March 08, 2009 | Graham

Not a good look

Subliminal factors contribute strongly to election results. That intangible “I don’t know what it is, but there is something that I don’t like about x,” feeling only needs to affect one or two percent of voters to be significant.
Labor’s handling of the subliminals in this campaign have been poor. For example, they’ve chosen formal clothes for most candidate shots that I have seen. This is presumably to emphasise authority, but in fact what I think it emphasises is that they are too smooth and out of touch with concerns of average Australians. So in my view it is feeding the LNP vote, which Labor is turbo-charging by portraying Springborg as a hayseed.
The worst example of ineptitude is the photo they are running of Anna Bligh with the little “Chairman Mao” chin that I’ve never noticed before. Anna can be fresh, girlish and relaxed, which is the image they need at the moment. Instead they’ve turned her into a dominatrix.
Here’s the Anna photo.
And here’s Mao – note the chin.
But it gets worse.
Australians recognise these eyes.
Here’s Big Sister.
This is not a good look.

Posted by Graham at 8:29 pm | Comments (13) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. The funny thing is they’ve ALSO branded the Premier as “Anna”, which to me smacks of over-familiarity (but I’ll use surnames when referring to people I don’t know in online discussions and usually use titles as well as names).
    So that’s a mixed message – my taste is for politicians to be a little bit formal, they are after all applying for the job of running a State or country, not the job of being my friend. Presumably I’m out of touch with the public’s taste on that, though.

    Comment by David Jackmanson — March 8, 2009 @ 9:14 pm

  2. Are we at the point where we have expectations about what’s appropriate for women running for premier? I don’t think so.
    When we have women in politics like Julia Gillard and Julie Bishop, it would be pretty hard to paint Anna as a dominatrix. Put the three of them in black leather and Anna would be the least convincing.

    Comment by Lyn — March 9, 2009 @ 8:19 am

  3. I think they went with the Anna tag as they are trying to get away form their history and “track record”. There is the Beattie/Bligh link that is bad so they think anything new like Anna can only help. It is also a poor attempt at Kevin07 though.
    Note how on here website (developed down south) she mentions Labor ONCE. And Beattie doesn’t get any mention. The guy who gave her her job. They seem embarrassed about him or something.

    Comment by Joe — March 9, 2009 @ 9:34 am

  4. Lyn, that sounds like a standard 70s feminist critique. When I’ve run candidates, or run myself, I’ve been just as careful with image irrespective of gender.
    I think one of the problems with the imaging is that it doesn’t coincide with Anna’s personality. Which is something you need to be careful of. You can shade the way people present, but you can’t fundamentally change them.

    Comment by Graham Young — March 9, 2009 @ 10:31 am

  5. A relaxed look with a slightly open mouth which gives a confident appeal has been lost in the pursuit of prescriptively tight lipped control. Not a self assured or comfortable expression which exudes confidence.

    Comment by Dallas Beaufort — March 9, 2009 @ 11:43 am

  6. Graham
    You should buy a current copy of the Womens Weekly – therein is a 4 page/8 sheet insert on Anna, paid for by Anna4Qld.

    Comment by Rossko — March 9, 2009 @ 11:45 am

  7. I can only speak for myself, but the mental imagery of Anna comes from years of TV footage, not the campaign photo you’ve got here.
    The accumulated image is peter pan collars, puffed sleeves, pastels, straight skirts, feminine hand movements, wrapped around a business-like attitude and an air of confidence.
    Arguing that women shouldn’t have to look like Margaret Thatcher to succeed in politics would be a feminist argument. I’m not saying that. I’m questioning whether it’s right to assume that the public have particular expectations of what a female premier should look like, and whether they have expectations of what Anna looks like.
    To me, the photo you’ve got here looks more like Joe’s Bligh than like the familiar Anna, if that makes sense.

    Comment by Lyn — March 9, 2009 @ 11:51 am

  8. Frankly, if I see another photo of Anna I think I will throw up. This woman has had her image plastered everywhere you look. I am sick and tired of seeing her. Give us a break!

    Comment by Sparkyq — March 9, 2009 @ 2:01 pm

  9. What Anna (my former Office of Cabinet colleague) and Mao have in common is that are both ideologues – perhaps it’s the ideologue look. Anna has never, as education minister, treasurer or premier, been innovative. She got some innovative input at education from UQ’s Mirko Draca (now at LSE), but didn’t act on it. At Treasury, with an extremely risk-averse, totally non-innovative Under Treasurer with no understanding of economics (Gerry Bradley), her department was not a player. As Premier, she’s backed legislation to have domestic cats registered from 1 July! Fundamental reform or unnecessary state intrusion? More Mao than miaow, I’m afraid.

    Comment by Faustino — March 9, 2009 @ 2:22 pm

  10. Well there ain’t many of these posters being proudly deployed in my neck of South Brisbane, which is as close to Anna Central as you get, with her electoral office, the Gladstone Rd NightOwl thinktank, and PeelStreet Deals’R’Us Central all within spitting distance. Not compared to the forest of “rights@work” ones, which I would have thought is as good a measure of the party faithful as you’ll get. There were 5 in my street in Fed’07, and not an I’mAFannaAnna to be seen. There’s even less Mary Carroll’s, but plenty of Greens. I’m told quite a few are getting torn down, and not by the folks hosting them, what does that mean?.
    The fact that there are B/W ear-to-ear grin, ye olde Anna posters in the field as well, serves to create a bit of a field of cognitive discord: “Who is the real Anna Bligh, now, the one trying to scare me into voting for her party? Now you remind me of what she was, I’m a bit suss about what she might be” I got the fright of my life when the New Improved Evil Anna image, huge, jumped into my browser.
    There’s been plenty of stories locally of Bligh and Labor’s failures on the envirnment front, including at the local electorate level, and this is definteley an IMBY? aware electorate. “Anna Bligh faces an embarrassing revolt on environmental issues from within her own South Brisbane ALP branch.”: telling?.
    I reckon there’s a real and growing chance, given (1) the dudness of the LNP cnadidate as an inner metro Lib voter attractor: she’s the re-badged Nat secretary, thinks the cafes belt of south brisbane is melbourne street, and the only press she’s had is over how she neglected her duties to declare 2x$100000 donations, (2) Green is the New Inner Metropolitan Black, in real estate industry demographic terms, Greens are classed Alternative Rich, ie there’s a big crossover (3) the greens candidate is not a first timer, is very middle class credible, he took the libs close last time to not being #2 (4) for not having much of a party machine behind him he’s doing ok, got his questionnaire leaflets and posters out (5) Anna’s local pitch and leaflets ( climate fridge magnet etc) themselves have highlighted that the environment is the issue, especially locally(6) this electorate has the highest installation rate of solar PV panels in the country, as a green marker, (7) it’s reported that libs here have no qualms against preferencing greens over hteir own accord, >50% in the local elections ….
    Anyways, Anna’s 18% margin, including as it does greens prefernces from last time, but not this time, might not be as comfortable as it looks; the ronan lee labor, shifting greenwards, might be significant; that combined with libs who might prefer some middle class fashionable green-ness over the organisation-stealing Nat apparatchik, might mean that the green gets up here as #2, thus harvesting the libs preferences, and that in the context of Anna seriously having to go to preferences. What do you reckon: just my fevered imagination?

    Comment by SouthBrisbane — March 9, 2009 @ 2:41 pm

  11. I’m sorry South Brisbane, but I can’t see a resurgent Greens anywhere in my figures, or anyone else’s. They’re tracking exactly where they were last election. If they couldn’t win the Brisbane by-election I can’t see them winning anything this time.
    You’re right about the enthusiasm of Labor supporters though – it appears to be rock bottom. But I’m not seeing a lot of LNP signs either.

    Comment by Graham Young — March 9, 2009 @ 3:02 pm

  12. Spweaking of Anna and adverts have you seen this one?

    Comment by Joe — March 9, 2009 @ 4:53 pm

  13. Hmmmph … a very shallow article.

    Comment by Q&A — March 12, 2009 @ 9:54 pm

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