Victorian government advertising campaign
In July, 2020 the Victorian Government released an advertising campaign on TV, radio and social media.
The campaign, an example of the Government using the media to try to create a positive influence, is said to be aimed to "help Victorians understand the reality of widespread deaths that the state if fighting to avoid.
"It is an unfolding tragedy that is hard to get your head around." - Brett Sutton
The campaign uses a variety of techniques to make a personal connection to the audience, including the use of non-actors, a direct to camera speech and shocking and emotional stories.
The campaign released just as there was a rise of coronavirus cases in Victoria, and many people being fined for not following government guidelines.
This campaign is similar to the campaigns which have run in Victoria, including the road safety campaigns run by the TAC (Traffic Accident Commission).
THE TAC road safety campaigns have been running since 1989 and their mission statement is to 'upset, outrage and appal' Victorian drivers in order to reduce the number of road deaths in the state.
When the campaign started, the road death toll was 776 in a year. In 2011 it was down to 287.
Of course, the TAC’s progress in reducing road casualties is not just about effective advertising. Safer cars, better roads, government legislation, heavier police enforcement and heftier fines have helped. But these factors are at play in other states too – and road accidents are still more common beyond Victoria’s borders.
The ads use similar techniques to those in the Coronavirus ads, using shocking imagery or emotional real world stories.
Setting The Agenda
One of the ways to understand these campaigns is through the media communication theory 'Agenda Setting Function Theory'. This theory states that:
The media can't tell you what to think, but it can tell you what to think about.
This came out of research in 1972 out of America which studies the issues that voters thought were important against what issues were reported prominently in the media.
These campaigns are often created to 'set the agenda' for what and how people will talk about certain issues. In the past they have used tactics such as media 'roadblocks' where every television station will play the advertisement at the same time to guarantee that everybody watching tv will see it.
So whilst these ads may set the agenda for what is discussed in a society, it might not necessarily change the thoughts or actions of anybody watching it.
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Today we're looking at the Agenda Setting Function Theory which suggests that the media can't tell you what to think but it can tell you what to think about. The Agenda Setting Function Theory was developed by Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw in 1972 as a result of their study of North Carolina voters during the 1968 presidential election campaign.