Bill Leak cartoon and smashed avocado column focus of The Australian’s new marketing campaign

by Miranda Ward / Mumbrella

The Australian has kicked off a new marketing push drawing on the title’s image and cartoon archive,  including Bill Leak’s controversial Aboriginal fathers cartoon.

The campaign, which kicked off today and is running across television, digital and within the newspaper itself, features different images to highlight the newspaper’s coverage of various events and introduces the new positioning for the News Corp-owned newspaper “For the informed Australian”.

Speaking to Mumbrella, The Australian CEO Nicholas Gray said the campaign is a response to the wider world context, including the rising notion of fake news, and the role of journalism within that.

Created by Archibald/Williams, the campaign also draws from another controversial moment for the title, referencing columnist Bernard Salt’s article which was criticised for its apparent drawing of a link between millennials’ willingness to buy expensive smashed avocado brunches and inability to save for property deposits.

“The key point for us is in an era of fake news, sound bites and pieces of information coming at consumers from a wide array of places, it’s important both our existing readers and potential readers understand that The Australian is a place they can go to get more knowledge and more depth,” Gray told Mumbrella.

“We’ll go deeper into stories, we’ll pursuee them for longer, we’ll carry opinion writers and columnists that will advance both sides of a debate and we’ll decode the complex. It’s about that depth of information and understanding you get from reading The Australian that you can’t get in a lot of other places.”

This ethos for the campaign is encapsulated in one of the pieces of creative which reads as a long copy manifesto for the newspaper.

The campaign aims to increase brand awareness of the publication with the goal of driving paid sales.

“Clearly investing in your brand drives more people to trial the product and more trialists to potentially pay for it,” Gray said.

“Our number one consumer objective is people paying for our content whether that’s newspaper retail sales, digital subscriptions or six-day bundled subscriptions. We’re focused on paid audience, not free audience, and that therefore is our number one objective.”

On the use of the Bill Leak cartoon, Gray said while it was deliberate to remove the caption from the cartoon for the advertisement, it did not indicate the publisher was backing away from it.

“Every piece of creative was very deliberately framed to be the most effective visual representation for an ad,” he said.

“It would be wrong to interpret cutting off the words as not standing by them, it’s more we’ve tried with the creative to be bold, clear, powerful and uncluttered.

“The reason we’re using the Leak cartoon in that context is to recognise the important role that cartoon played in provoking debate.

“There’s an incredible debate that’s ensued both around free speech and 18C that is very important but also around Indigenous children and the care for them, for example the explosion of the Indigenous dads Twitter handle that celebrated a lot of positive stories around Indigenous parenthood.”

Gray acknowledged The Australian’s picture editor Milan Scepanovic “who was intimately involved in selecting all the images”.

“Some of them are our images that our photographers took and many of them are stories we have covered extensively.”

Andy Reynolds