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The battle for the killer slogan

By Ad astra  

I could commence this piece by debating why slogans influence voters, no matter how tiresome, no matter how monotonous. But why bother? We know they work. Why bother to question their use, or scorn those who use them? It is surely more practical to examine how to use them creatively. This piece is just the beginning of the search for the killer slogan.

Recall how potent was Tony Abbott’s ‘Axe the Tax’. Remember how Julia Gillard’s ‘price on carbon’ was twisted into a ‘carbon tax’ by Abbott and his chief of staff Peta Credlin, who later admitted that was what they did quite deliberately, knowing how mendacious that was, and how lethal that misrepresentation would be. Reflect on how the ‘carbon tax’ slogan changed the meaning and intent of Gillard’s ‘price on carbon’, demonised it, killed it, and eventually her prime ministership too.

The obvious truth is that these tiny sound bites are easy to remember. As you read this, stop for a moment to recall Abbott’s three word slogans. It would be surprising if you did not remember: ‘Axe the Tax’, ‘Repay the debt’, ‘Stop the boats’, and ‘Stop the waste’.

Over and again PM Morrison used two key slogans: ‘Jobs and Growth’, and ‘Building our Economy, Securing our Future’. They captured important elements of LNP policy. His oft-repeated homily: ‘If you have a go, you’ll get a go’, while superficial, even folksy, had popular appeal. To bolster the LNP’s economic credentials, Morrison and Frydenberg cheekily coined: ‘We’re back in the black’ although a surplus is still years away, adding their own brand of alliteration: ‘We’re back on track’. It was a smart, although dishonest slogan.

The LNP’s negative slogans were even more powerful, reinforcing what pollsters have peddled for years, namely that the public believes that the LNP is a better manager of the economy than Labor. ‘Labor can’t manage money, so Shorten’s coming after yours’, ‘The Bill Australia can’t afford’, and ‘Paying off Labor’s debt’, hit their mark powerfully. Morrison hammered the line: ‘There’s a big price for changing government’, and reverting to John Howard’s ‘Who can you trust’ meme, assailed us with: ‘Who do you trust to manage a $2-trillion economy.’ and ‘Who do trust to keep the budget in surplus?’

Do you remember Bill Shorten’s prime slogan for this election: ‘A fair go for Australia’? It was appropriate, as a ‘fair go’ is a central element of Labor’s belief system, but why not ‘A fair go for Australians’, or better still ‘A fair go for all Australians’, or even better ‘A fair go for you?

More powerful were his: ‘Everything is going up, except your wages’ and the lines about Liberal cuts. His negative slogans though did cut through when he referred to the Coalition’s ‘Chaos and division’ and ‘A coalition of creeps, crackpots and and cranks’, contrasting it with his ‘united party’.

Somehow though his slogans lacked potency. They fell rather flat, delivered as they were without the verve they deserved. He might have had more impact had he spoken the words he used at the May 30 Labor Caucus meeting: “We are the party of progress, we are the party of reform, we’re the party of the big picture, the party that champions the big changes.”

Anthony Albanese made a good start at his address to Caucus”Labor is not just a political party; Labor is a movement for a better Australia.”  The statement has both punch and depth.

As commentators responding to the election analysis How, Why? suggested the piece should have had a go at creating some slogans, here it is.

Initially I searched Wikipedia for Labor’s slogans. I found a list, but it is at least ten years old. Take a look at the list. How many are still in use? Most are union slogans. Many would now grate on voters.

So let’s start with some contemporary ones with a positive tone. None though had the potency of Gough Whitlam’s ‘It’s time’, although Labor did try to evoke the memories of that 1972 election.

I invite you to add your own slogans in ‘Comments’. I’ll send them to Albo as our contribution to the next election.

Labor wants a fair go for you.
Labor wants a fair go for all.
Labor wants all Australians to share this country’s wealth.
Labor wants prosperity for everyone, not just a few.
Labor wants a better deal for the next generation.
Indigenous Australians deserve the same as other Australians.
Indigenous Australians must be lifted out of poverty and disadvantage.
Indigenous Australians deserve respect and recognition as the nation’s first people.
Indigenous Australians must be recognized in our Constitution.

Everyone is entitled to secure employment.
Everyone is entitled to satisfying employment.
Everyone is entitled to decent wages.

Let’s get wages rising again.
Corporate profits are soaring; let’s lift wages too.
Let’s encourage large and small business to expand.
Labor is ‘business friendly’.
Business builds our nation’s prosperity.
Employers and employees together will build a better Australia.
Restore Victoria’s fair share of federal infrastructure funding

Stop wage theft by greedy employers.
Stop employers cheating you by not paying your superannuation on time.
Restore penalty rates.

Everyone is entitled to a safe workplace.
Everyone must be able to come home safely.
Every family deserves to have loved ones come home from work unharmed.

Labor will increase childcare funding and gives a fair go to millions of households.

All school leavers deserve to get a good job
All school leavers deserve a good education and sound training for work.
All school leavers deserve a place at university or TAFE.

Everyone deserves a financially secure retirement.
Everyone deserves reliable superannuation.
No one should be in poverty after retirement.

Everyone deserves high-quality health care whenever they need it.
All Australians deserve affordable, accessible health care.
Good healthcare for all.

Everyone deserves decent end-of-life care.

Everyone is entitled to a clean, unpolluted environment.
Our children must be able to inherit a sustainable planet.
We owe it to our children to clean up pollution and preserve our country and all its precious assets.

Farmers need security of water supply, protection against adverse conditions, guaranteed markets, and financial security

Overseas trade must be promoted and preserved.
Trading tariffs and regulations must foster international trade.
Trade barriers must be reduced.

Let’s now try a few negative slogans.

First, avoid reference to ‘The top end of town’
Avoid slogans that disparage business, executives, and shareholders.
Use instead: Labor encourages all who seek to become shareholders.
Shareholders are the backbone of Australian business.

Here are some personal slogans that might strike a chord.
Go slow Scomo
Slomo Scomo
Can Slomo do it?
Where’s your miracles, Scomo?
Morrison, show us your miracles.

Here are a few pointed ones aimed at Coalition behaviour:
The Coalition looks after its masters.
He who pays the piper calls the tune.
Big coal calls the tune.
Big business calls the tune.
One Nation and the United Australia Party call the Coalition tune.

Here are some that aim at Coalition weak spots:

Will the Coalition protect our planet?
Will the Coalition save the Barrier Reef?
Will the Coalition stop rising sea levels?
How will the Coalition tackle droughts, water shortages, land degradation?
How will the Coalition manage threats to endangered animals and species?
Will the Coalition reduce carbon emissions, not just talk about it? How?
Emissions are still rising. How will the Coalition stop them?

Will the Coalition stop pollution by plastics? How?
Will the Coalition clean up Australia? How?
How does the Coalition intend to reduce pollution?
The Coalition says it’s serious about promoting renewables. Show us how.

If you’re interested in the slogan game, you may find this reference of interest:
It’s time to unpack this election’s campaign slogans by Judith Ireland, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald of May 7.

Let’s leave it here. It was not my intention to provide an exhaustive list of slogans, but simply to suggest where a start could be made. Those listed above are only examples. There are many other areas that lend themselves to telling slogans.

Please add your own slogans in ‘Comments’ below. I’ll forward them to Albo. Every slogan we can send him will contribute to success in 2022.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

For Facebook users, The Political Sword has a Facebook page:
Putting politicians and commentators to the verbal sword – ‘Like’ this page to receive notification on your timeline of anything they post.

There is also a personal Facebook page:
Ad Astra’s page – Send a friend request to interact there.

The Political Sword also has twitter accounts where they can notify followers of new posts:
@1TPSTeam (The TPS Team account)
@Adastra5 (Ad Astra’s account)

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20 comments

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  1. Josephus

    Food before coal mines
    Water for life, not to make polluters rich
    Respect and equality for First Nations
    Education for critical minds not passivity/conformity

  2. Win jeavons

    Common wealth should be more than a word!

  3. Frank Smith

    Ad Astra, I don’t want to hijack your article, but here is a related issue that concerns me greatly. There is no more potent “slogan” in Australia than the Aboriginal flag. But now even that has been so commercialized by extremely culturally insensitive money grabbing creeps that it risks becoming an Australian symbol of capitalism vs common sense and social cohesion. And of course “the law” will back up the so-called “rights” of these obscene pilferers of Australian First Peoples rights and symbols and uphold the ridiculous white man copyright laws that are at the heart of this scandalous injustice. Our aboriginal communities do not need this nonsensical adulteration of their rights to symbols or slogans – let them use their flag in whatever manner they choose.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jun/11/company-that-holds-aboriginal-flag-rights-part-owned-by-man-prosecuted-for-selling-fake-art

  4. Matters Not

    Look at some of the really successful slogans over the years and learn. Must be short. Three words – ideal. Meaningless in itself – so that almost any meaning can be given via a non-definitive pronoun. (It) Thus we have:

    Coke is it. and then Just do it. It’s the emotional meaning (response) **evoked that’s the cruncher.

    Slogans tend to be emotional reinforcers. Not winners in themselves.

  5. Matters Not

    Just for Australia

    We are Labor

    For All of Us

    We are the future

    But seriously, the professionals would have workshopped many more and better options than the above – including images. music, singers etc. It’s quite a science as well as a well-developed art. And a lot of hit or miss activity as well.

  6. wam

    The conservatives have two devastating slogans:
    labor and the unions
    labor and the greens
    Albo has taken a risk with cmefu setka.
    It should work and if it does he needs to expose brown and the loonies as greedy calculating pragmatist.
    He will need to correct the autocue children when they tack the greens on to labor.
    Then all but what ^#&&&%&#* all it is, all he has to do is show how inept fryghtenburg and scumm are.

  7. Kerri

    1/ You voted for Tony Abbott.
    You got Malcolm Turnbull.
    You voted for Malcolm Turnbull.
    You got Scott Morrison.
    Life should not be like a box of chocolates.

    2/ With the LNP the Scum(mo) always rises to the top!

    3/ Make Australia Generous Again.

  8. Stuart Anderson

    It’s time, again

    It’s our time

    Times up

    Fairs fair

    Time for change

    Time for a change

  9. Pauline Harris

    STOP GLOBAL WARMING!

  10. Pauline Harris

    After all, it’s our main concern.

  11. Bob Ruwoldt

    Need over greed !

  12. Jaquix

    Labor candidate for Warringah, Dean Harris, had a good simple one.
    Think it was We Can do Better or something like that.
    Do it Better would work too.
    Lets Be Better.
    Albo good on 7.30 last night, asked about “aspiration” he said (more or less) “The government has a different interpretation of aspiration than I do. They think it means for individuals to get ahead financially. I believe its people striving to make life better for their families, their community, and their country.”
    Thats a powerful message!
    (So, longwinded entry would be Family Community Country.

  13. Vikingduk

    Given that we are well on our way in our quest to become a fascist nation, devoid of morals, lying at whim ably supported by an incompetently corrupt media, a nation that is ruled by a completely corrupt bunch of arsewipes, tragically called a democracy, do you honestly think that all Labor needs are some catchy slogans?

    For me, Labor needs to grow a spine, stop supporting the spivs, shonks and liars when they fear being wedged. Stand up, get up on your hind legs and fight for urgent climate action, protect whistleblowers, genuinely care for the weakest. No more insipid bullshit.

  14. Henry Rodrigues

    Vikingduk…….. Absolutely endorse your view. Bugger being nice and acceptable, time to get down and dirty. Take the fight to the bastards.

  15. helvityni

    “Coke is it”…what is it? Tasted it once and that was enough for me…no more…

    I never liked slogans either, they don’t work for me.

    So sorry, no can help…

  16. Kaye Lee

    I’m not really a slogan person either but how about

    “Together we can”

    It’s more a starter to helping people understand that together we can recognise the challenges and address them.

    Together we can bring new industries to North Queensland to provide the jobs and security that the region needs to flourish.

    Together we can protect the flora, fauna and landscape that make this country so unique

    Together we can provide a better future for our children

    Together we must aspire to a life of dignity for all

    Together we can make this world a better place

  17. Paul Davis

    Best slogan for the coalition “Weasel While You Work”

  18. New England Cocky

    1) Voters before corporations.

    2) Health before corporate profits.

    3) Dream BIGGER Australia!

    4) Women supporting National$ support Adultery.

    5) Australian voters before foreign corporations.

    6) It’s time ….. again!!

  19. Ad Astra

    Folks

    Many thanks for your innovative contributions towards the ‘killer slogan’. When this post is done, I’ll send the link to Albo.

  20. RosemaryJ36

    Truth, fairness and transparency

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