Less rights than an Ice Dealer?

Less rights than an Ice Dealer? Now I’m scared.  


It’s that time of the year again, after the initial announcement of a pending federal election that we can look forward to the onslaught of political advertisements that plague our television sets. Although in saying that, the advertising has become somewhat entertaining.


Early April, 2016 saw the emergence of a new advertising campaign put forward by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union in response to Coalition’s Bill to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission watchdog (Colman 2016).

The ad compares the rights of an ice dealer to that of a construction worker, concluding that if the current government stays in power, it will take away those rights. With respect to Integrated Marketing Communication, it seems as though the CFMEU has a clear marketing and public relations strategy, fear advertising being at the forefront (ABC, 27 April 2016).

Fear in the media.

fear-sells-advertising-graffitiAdvertising on television during the prime time viewing slot is intended to achieve the
goal of reaching the targeted audience (Iacobucci 2014). Emotional advertising that uses fear as a driver, is designed to change a desired behaviour in the viewer (Mukherjee & Dube 2012). The CFMEU chose to use the fear advertising campaign in order to not only influence the target audience’s voting habits, but to make sure they as an organisation keep operating as the status quo.

safteyHas it become the norm to accept fear based advertising if coming from a Not for Profit organisation or Union? Not for Profit organisations, especially Unions, rely on membership and in some cases government concessions in order to operate. As a general rule, Unions are seen as an enforcer of rights and safety for its members, a view that seems to be shared by the general public (Parry et al.2013)

So it was no surprise the advertisement highlighted the Construction Worker as ‘having the right to remain silent’, and ‘less rights than an ‘Ice Dealer’ (another contentious social issue of our time). Here the advertisement is designed so the viewer will be shocked that this scenario could actually happen, whilst emotionally connecting them to the innocent construction worker (Mukherjee & Dube 2012).

Does Fear Advertising work in isolation?

As shocking as the advertisement was, not everyone fell for the fear propaganda and thought civil rights could be taken away overnight, did they?

Previously it was believed that if you were in the Not For Profit sector and you chose to use fear based advertising to influence your audience, you were seen as a risk taker. In modern times there has been a shift to suggest these tactics are justified because the NFP’s are looking after their consumers and the audience can empathise (Parry et al. 2013).

Additionally it has been discovered that humour, when linked to fear based advertising, can increase the efficacy of the desired behavioural response of those targeted (Mukherjee & Dube 2012).

Was this the intention of the CFMEU? To make the accusations in the advertisement so ridiculous, the material is actually funny?

Ms Bulter, a former solicitor at Maurice Blackburn told Sky News “Most people would find that to be quite a surprising idea that a body investigating possible breaches of civil law should have the right … to say to that person, you do not have the right to silence; you do not have the right to refuse to answer questions if you consider the answers may incriminate you” (Colman 2016).

‘Left’ with more questions?

  1. Did the CFMEU influence the target audience via fear advertising alone?
  2. Was this strategy too risky, even though they are a NFP?
  3. Will the success of the campaign be based not by the approval rating of the CFMEU but by the result of the upcoming election?


See you at the voting booth!

voting booth


Colman, E 2016. ‘CFMEU TV ad claiming ice addicts have more rights than workers under ABCC ‘is nonsense’, The Australian, 27 April, retreived 5 May 2016, <http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/industrial-relations/cfmeu-tv-ad-claiming-ice-addicts-have-more-rights-than-workers-under-abcc-is-nonsense/news-story/3d5962332a84d7d9b403b19fdb24c51d&gt;.


Iacobucci, D 2014, ‘Marketing Management (MM)’, 4th Edition, Cengage Learning

Mukherjee, A & Dube, L 2012,’Mixing emotions: The use of humor in fear advertising’, Journal of Consumer Behaviour, vol. 11, pp. 147–161, DOI: 10.1002/cb.389

Parry, S Jones, R Stern, P Robinson, M 2013, ‘Shockvertising’: An exploratory investigation into attitudinal variations and emotional reactions to shock advertising’, Journal of Consumer Behaviour, vol. 12, pp. 112 – 121, DOI: 10.1002/cb.1430

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