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29 November 2004

What is the idea of labour now?

My business partner and I were talking the other day about the image problems the Australian Labour Party has. Not unlike many other political parties in the world these days. Is it just that the demographics traditional working class parties were built on have changed so much, or is it that the left has comprehensively failed to change and keep watch on the changes that have gone on about them?

The Australian Labour Party and the Democrats are tearing themselves apart, trying to work out why they lost their respective Federal elections. In both the USA and Australia there have been massive changes in both electoral sentiment and the idea of labour. Like the companies we work for, who are acknowledging the need to change their image and position, we think it's high time political parties reappraise their brands, if they even have one anymore. What is their essence? What is their vision? What brand values do they have? What do they look like? Who do they market to? You cannot market to everyone, yet in both our countries there was the ambiguous use of "middle class", "middle America", "working class" by leaders and strategists and their respective advertising and polling agencies - they didn't know who their electorates/markets were. Clearly, like so many companies and multinationals, these organisations are lost and disenfranchised. Clearly they need to reappraise and re-align their brands.

Yet, in our country they think that sacking their advertising agency will do this. They think that introducing performance contracts for candidates will mean they will get greater responsibility and better candidature. When it comes to understanding who they are and what they are, there is little attention to this.

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