Let’s Get Political

“In the Northern Territory from 2012-2016 it really did seem that the Territory was run by ‘crocodiles in the cabinet’ . . . Is it possible to be a small, independent player, and yet make a major change on the political landscape?”

You bet it is.

Enter Eli Melky.

Eli Melky is a local councillor on the Alice Springs Council and if there is anything that gets him fired up, it is the people, the taxpayers, being treated like mugs.  And that is exactly what Mills-Giles Country Liberal Party was doing to the people of the Northern Territory from 2012-2016. Their arrogance was palpable.

Terry Mills was the Chief Minister as elected when the Country Liberal Party won the 2012 Territory election. Within a year of being elected, Mills was overthrown in a bloody coup by his successor, Adam Giles, whilst the former was in Japan on official business securing more trade alliances for businesses in the Northern Territory (NT).

What ensued was a boys club at the apex of NT Government, where political scandal was the course de rigueur. There were more cabinet reshuffles than life-rafts on the Titanic. For more information on the litany of scandals, see the authoritative “Crocs in the Cabinet”, (Smee & Walsh, 2016).

However, the NT electorate and Chief Minister Giles electorate of Braitling are naturally conservative leaning. With a swing of 20% required to unseat the Chief Minister in his electorate, despite all the scandals, he looked likely to hold onto his seat, even if his government looked less likely to remain in office.

The Challenges

Eli Melky’s desire to make a stand against the hubris he saw fermented over a number of years in particular in the last couple of months before the election on August 27. By late July, he threw his hat into the ring. However, the election was only a month away … What could be achieved?

Well, most strategies have shorter and longer term elements. The strategy determined was that with the short amount of time, we could achieve two things:

  1. Splinter the conservative vote in Braitling by offer the position of an “Independent Conservative”; and
  2. Build brand awareness for future campaigns

The Communications

We started with a blank canvas a ticking clock – the election was only four weeks away.

The campaign roll-out had to take place in 4 stages:

  1. Build the Melky brand – choose corporate colours, design a logo, write a slogan and build a website
  2. Bring awareness to the candidate and his candidacy via traditional and digital advertising. This advertising included:
    • Craft and produce 3 television commercials
    • Write and record a radio commercial
    • Design 8 newspaper ads
    • Social media campaign including daily posts on Facebook & Twitter, page monitoring for comments (and trolls), and a paid ad campaign on Facebook to spread the message wider amongst the younger audience;
    • Direct mail pieces including “How to Vote” and “How to Preference” cards designed, printed and distributed via unaddressed mail to the householder; and
    • Design Corflute signs for power poles and fences around the Braitling electorate
  3. Secured free media by liaising with the local newspaper, “The Centralian Advocate” and the local FM radio station4 – 8HA.
  4. Underpinning all of the above stages was ongoing, daily, communications and strategizing to shape the message while responding to what was happening in the dynamic ‘environment’ – namely, the election campaign, which was a live, moving target.

The Outcomes

The conservative vote was fractured in the election, and the Chief Minister, Adam Giles, lost his seat by a mere 27 votes in an historic election in which the Chief Minister not only lost government, but lost his safe seat in the process.

The NT now has a new government and the people have spoken – they won’t be taken for fools.

Eli Melky’s political brand is now well-known in Alice Springs and he is better positioned to have another tilt at any future elections, should he hear his civic duty calling his name.

What did the client have to say?

“I really set a task for the team at Catalyst and I couldn’t have asked for more in terms of a campaign communications partner. When I look back on it, I can’t believe how much we achieved in such a short time-frame.”

Eli Melky