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I cannot stand waste. And this week the debate about how the government is spending $38million on selling (advertising) a tax package has really made me mad!

What a waste! (Not for the agency, or media who are the recipient of the funds) But as a marketer I know you cannot spend yourself into having a great brand image. Building a brand takes so much more than advertising. No amount of icing can hide the mud in mud pie.

I remember years ago Ansett, the airline spent a fortune trying to boost the ‘morale’ of its employees (I was one of them) by creating an advertising campaign. ‘You can’t have the greatest airline in the world without the greatest people.’ Fantastic sentiment, which they spent millions on creating TV ads depicting different employee groups of the airline saying how great they thought the airline was…. Yet just a few months later (whilst the ads were still on air) the pilots first chose to strike and then resign and Australia didn’t have an aviation industry for nine months. There was clearly something structurally wrong – and no amount of spend on advertising was going to fix it. Icing on mud pie.

Fast forward to this governments $38m spend and I see exactly the same thing. People are not idiots and we are being treated as if we are. You cannot dress this so called tax reform up. (Mud pie) The fact that there is so much debate means something is not right – and there has clearing not been the consultation and inclusion needed from business.

If I was running the show I would not be spending money on advertising (yes you heard this from a die hard marketer) I would be looking at how I can save money – I would be looking at the discretionary effort that each person in the public sector has to offer – I would be hiring really, really smart people – I would be making those in the public sector feel very, very proud of where they work – I would notice their contribution and make sure others knew what they would do. I would spend money on recognition. I would make our teachers, doctors and police people feel like heros (that they are) and the administrators who support them… heroes for what they do.

I’m a simple woman who believes in the power of people. No matter what business you are in (including government) nothing can get done without the contribution of individuals all aligned and heading in the one direction. If they spent that $38m on the people of the public sector – you would see a far greater return on the investment – and not have to sell a fundamentally muddy tax system.

Reader Interactions


  1. My thoughts exactly Naomi! I am busy working with a network across the Victorian Public Sector to address the lack of reward and recognition of staff across the Victorian Government. Your staff Kate and Verity have been fantastic in sharing the Red Balloon ideas that I can use to drive change in this area. They are fabulous! Also in my plan for the year is building up a network across Australia to look at this area and I have the support of the Australian Public Sector Commission. I thank you for the inspiration you have provided me at the events I have seen you speak (Australasian Talent Conference 2009 and Future Summit 2010-we had a quick chat and I visited your Sydney office-it has a great feel!) and your blog, which I find insightful and thought provoking . I look forward to our paths continuing to cross in our goal to help more people realise the value and ease of rewards and recognition. Sharing this with you is my personal thank you for the positive part you are playing in my life, Thank you Naomi, you are an insipiration and a great role model to me.

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