Category: Marketing

How the #faketradie advert missed the millennial market

Normally, articles that claim there’s some special tactic to engaging millennials make me rather irritable. They’re all over business networks like LinkedIn, guru upon guru offering a magic formula of gimmicks and hashtags that is bound to bring in the next wave of decision makers.

I don’t believe the answer is that elusive, and yet, politicians especially are getting it so incredibly wrong.

Why is political advertising to millennials such a big deal?

As of March 31st 2016, roughly 2,879,760 Australians on the electoral roll were aged thirty or below. Out of the enrolled population of 15,468,329 that’s 18.62%. Almost a fifth of voters in this election are Generation Y or later. The ever-elusive millennial market.

With those sorts of numbers, this demographic may well decide the outcome. And unlike their more traditional parents and grandparents, they are less likely to vote for the party their family does.

Aren’t millennials politically apathetic?

It’s an unfortunate assumption. Millennials are largely swing voters, far more likely to change who they vote for based on past performance, policy, and media representation. This means that awareness of what the politician has done, and is planning to do, is incredibly important in helping millennials make their decision at the ballot box.

Right. So advertising is still important. Isn’t that what the Coalition’s advert was for?

I would assume first that it wasn’t targeted at millennials, or at least–I hope not. But even as we break it down in terms of what millennials look for when confronted with advertising campaigns, there are a number of things that still ring true no matter what generation you’re from.

Advertising in general has entered a stage where audiences are too skeptical and too analytical to accept adverts at face value. Overwhelming streams of advertising messages shoved under our noses every day mean we’ve learned to pick, choose, and decide for ourselves what rings true.

Millennials especially have grown up native to this environment. They’re ready to spot the flaw in your message.

Breaking it down: #FakeTradie is… well, fake.

Two things are truly starting to shine in advertising: humour and authenticity. Spots that entertain will be memorable and shared, while spots that are authentic will allow a connection to the audience by passing ‘authenticity’ filters that digital natives have created to help them deal with the onslaught of advertising messages.

The Coalition’s advert isn’t (supposed to be) funny. To resonate with millennial audiences especially, it must then be honest, straight-forward, only make claims that can be tested and proven, and the tone of the message must be one that is positive if it really wants to drive a call to action.

Millennials do not respond well to scare campaigns. Typical political adverts that seek to discredit the opposition are largely ignored the way their parents ignored them trying to get their siblings in trouble. You’ll say anything if you want someone else to look bad.

They’re also more likely to fact-check before forming an opinion. Not only that, where they find discrepancies in the claims, they will speak up. The internet has given digital natives a platform for revealing truths that shouldn’t be underestimated.

The largest issue with what has been dubbed the #FakeTradie advert is that from the set, to the script, to the appearance of a man claiming to be a tradesman outraged by Labor’s policies, nothing felt authentic enough for the message to come through.


They used an actor though. That’s what actors do! They act!

Actually, that was an incorrect assumption. The alleged ‘actor’ is a metalworker in Sydney–a real tradesman! Unfortunately, he’s become the face of a campaign that tried so hard to be relatable it became a mockery of itself.

Builders across Australia were quick to point out the safety hazards visible on set, the lack of dirt on his clothes, and even the ceramic mug which ‘would be hard to get on a real building site’. All of these clues took away from the sense of the actor being a true tradie (even though he is!), and increasingly the impression was left of a government trying to put words in tradie’s mouths.

And the words were…

For anyone who wasn’t put off by the visuals in the advert, the script offered a whole new layer of fake. It was like watching an alien try to mimic human contact for the first time.

That Malcolm Turnbull and his party are largely made up of wealthy white Australians that attended private schools and wouldn’t know how to catch a real tram is no secret–the game is up! We know!

The Coalition’s attempts relating to, and ‘understanding middle class Australians’, have been nothing short of horrific. From catching public transport with a mob of cameras to prove how ‘normal’ he is, to claiming that children should be able to ask their parents for loans into the housing market, Turnbull has proven time and time again the disconnect between himself and the average Australian.

Which honestly wouldn’t be so terrible if he just accepted it, and stopped trying to force something he clearly isn’t.

If he stood up tomorrow and said, ‘Average Australians, I really have no idea what your life is like, so these advisors here are going to help me make decisions on what is best for you.’ I would applaud that. I would applaud a Prime Minister who stood up and admitted that he didn’t understand something but was making a move to try.

Admittedly… only if those said advisors were people who did understand what life is like down here.

Phrases like ‘stick with the current mob for a while’ are so bizarre and almost stereotypical to what foreigners believe Australians sound like that once again, the Coalition’s advert does little more than underline the vast disconnect between their lives and ours.

Those were not the words of an authentic tradie. The advert failed the authenticity filter, and earned itself a spot in #auspol ridicule, even gaining its own hashtag: #faketradie.

What could have been done better?

Aside from everything, and taking the Coalition’s policies out of the equation (this article is about millennials and political advertising, not a political view point. The Coalition is not the only party to get this wrong!), a few basic steps could have been taken to improve the authenticity of the advert.

Rather than putting scripted words into a perfect set, interviews ‘on the street’ with tradesmen at work would have gone down much better. Close up shot of a tradesman, still grubby, busy building site in the far view (far enough away that everyone is safe!). Voicing opinions in their own words, just as they would to their mates.

More clarity on the tradesman’s issues with the Labor party would definitely have improved the message, rather than vague phrases like ‘go to war’ that are designed to wind people up without explanation. Millennials especially want to know facts.

How is Labor going to war on our banks? How does the Liberal/National Party plan to do things differently?

Political advertising needs to shift, and fast, if it wants to capture new voters as they enroll.

Attack-based advertisments are (thank goodness) going to lose effectiveness as the younger generations systematically ignore or research the truth of them.

Political adverts will need to adapt the way that other advertising has adapted in response to regulations on false claims, by either entertaining the audience or by connecting in a meaningful and honest way.

Oh. And by advertising the actual policies with facts and figures, so we know what we’re voting for. That… would be rather nice, I think.



Nine ways (not) to telemarket.

I’d never done telemarketing before last week. In fact, I’d actively avoided any position that listed telemarketing as a possible task. You can imagine the dread that settled in my stomach when I was informed that yes, my wonderful new job required me to put in a few hours each day calling through prospected clients.

I’m not a phone person. I can’t even order a pizza. I won’t call my own sister if a text message will do. And yet, here I was at my beautiful new desk, staring at the phone trying to summon the courage to dial the first number.

Now, I have a lot of support in the role. In just a week I’ve not only discovered that I can make those calls, I actually love it. The one downside to an office job as opposed to a retail position is not getting to talk to as many people, telemarketing fills that gap quite nicely.

So with all of a week’s experience under my belt, I answered the phone on Friday afternoon to a fellow telemarketer. I won’t say what she was pushing, only that I spent far too long trying to get off the phone and back to the meeting I was supposed to be in. That’s when it occurred to me that while the training I’d been given was certainly helping–almost everything I knew about telemarketing I’d learned from the other end.

Here are some of the more annoying mistakes and pitfalls I’ve found.

1. I am not your darling, your dear, or your sweetheart.

It doesn’t help that I sound like a twelve-year-old, but my childlike voice is not a licence to treat me as one. Speaking too familiarly with someone too soon will put them off. You’re not their friend. Laugh and joke as the conversation leads, and call me by my name if you have it available, but whatever you do—don’t call me baby.

2. Use my name—not someone else’s.

You might have just been talking to Maria, the name was still stuck in your mind. It just slipped out. It’s an honest mistake that we’ll all make at some point, just be aware that it will almost definitely cost you the call. One minute we’re happily chatting, the next I realise you’ve been chatting to some other ‘Maria’—and you’ve lost me. Sorry. This potential customer wants to feel special, not just another number on a list. Be extra careful with names. Say the name of the person you’re calling five times before you dial just to make sure it’s locked in your head.

3. Pronunciation matters.

I don’t think my name is hard to say, but you’d be amazed how many people make a mess of it. There are definitely worse names to try and say when you’ve only ever seen them written before. There’s a real skill to recovering when you’ve mis-pronounced someone’s name, so unless you’ve got that knack you’re going to need to think more strategically when faced with the next Stephen (is it pronounced Steven or Stefan this time?). Most people say their own name when they answer, so listen hard and mimic when you need to. The same applies with voice mail. If your CRM has a ‘pronunciation’ field, check that.

4. Youreallydoneedtotakeabreath.

I’m not going to hang up in the time it takes you to breathe. Telemarketing is a role where it’s especially important to be clear and precise in what you say. Slow your words down and let me hear your message before I decide to continue with the call or not. Rushing forward is a waste of time, you end up keeping people on the line who are truly not interested—they just can’t find a space to hang up. If you’re worried about keeping people on the line longer, ask questions. Engage in a two-way conversation that allows you to discuss what you’re offering properly.

5. And listen.

There’s no point asking me questions if you’re not going to take my answers into account. If I’ve just told you that I don’t have a dog, you shouldn’t be asking me what colour it is. The same goes for information I offer without prompting. My most recent experience with a telemarketer had her talking over top of my trying to explain that I had no control over decision making. In fact, she went as far as to insist that I did have that power and would be able to supply her the information she was asking for. I couldn’t get off the phone fast enough.

6. Now is not always a convenient time.

In that same conversation, I had to explain that the actual decision makers were in a meeting. It took a while to get through, but eventually I was able to ask if I could take her details and get someone more appropriate to call her back. My reward for that was being told that it “had to be now”. By this time she’d wasted nearly fifteen minutes of her time and mine. How many potential customers had she not called while she was on the phone with me? Accept that the people you need to speak to aren’t always there. Ask when would be a more convenient time and make a note to call back.

7. Grumpiness begets grumpiness.

It’s an age-old rule of customer service. However grumpy and bothered you are, never let it show. Customers can smell it over the phone. It poisons the call. You’re more likely to get happy conversations if you approach your calls with a positive attitude and a smile in your voice. My phone has a little sticker below that says ‘Smile when you Dial’ and silly as that small thing seems it helps a lot. Keep that smile going until you’ve hung up, no matter what happens. Once that phone is down you can do what you like. Run around screaming like a velociraptor if you must. If you want your calls to go smoothly and pleasantly, you need to be the one to set the tone.

8. Remember: you’re the voice.

While you’re on the phone you’re no longer you. You’re the voice of the company. What you say and how you say it directly impacts the impression the customer has of your company. If you have a script, stick as close to it as you can. Those words have been especially chosen to communicate the company’s intent. If you don’t have a script, discuss with your colleagues what language you use when calling. Consider what really represents the company’s core beliefs and stay true to those when speaking on the phone. Stay positive and professional.

9. Above all else, don’t lie.

Never make promises the company can’t keep for you, and never guess at information you don’t have. This goes double for anything involving money. If you say you can save someone a hundred dollars a week, they won’t be satisfied with $99.99. Make sure you can back up everything you say, and make sure you do everything you say. Again, as a point of contact for the company, your misdirection and false information will create a poor image of the company. Even if it gets you the sale, it’s not worth the disappointed and angry customer down the track. Offer to find the information, to investigate what can be done. Never, never, lie.