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  • Writer's pictureCarma Levene

Scotty From Marketing

It seems incredibly dismissive and belittling to refer to one's Prime Minister as "Scotty From Marketing" and since I'm a marketer, and you're likely in marketing, and the PMs doing a TERRIBLE job of marketing himself right now, this is too big to not write about.

I'll try and stick to the facts (I'm sure you'll be able to guess my political leanings anyway) - but I believe this is now beyond politics.

Scott Morrison is in the middle of a PR meltdown - and in all fairness he deserves it.

Let's back up a bit.

Here's the downlow on ScoMo:

Australia is on fire. It's bad, it's been going on for months and his leadership during this time has varied from non-existent to mind bogglingly incompetent.

He went missing, then we found out he went on holiday - then apologised but blamed his kids.

He denied firefighters more resources and said there was "nothing more he could do" when this isn't true.

He kept blathering on about the cricket for some reason.

He denies climate change is responsible for our worsening natural disasters.

He hosted a completely weird press conference where he made all kind of analogies to spilt milk and being stuck in traffic.

He forced people to shake his hand when they didn't want to.

He was run out of one town.

Many of these actions had their own trending moment.

People asked #wherethebloodyhellareyou in reference to his tourism campaign, he was referred to as SmoKo due to the horrendous smoke that was (and still is) choking many of our major cities - all the while hosting parties, hanging out with the Aussie cricket team and smirking.


#ScottyFromMarketing has been trending on Twitter (although it has dropped to number 13 - lucky!) and there's even now #ProMo tag gaining traction.

I'm sure you know about this - but just in case there's any doubt that - regardless of politics - this is not a list of actions you want attributed to your nation's leader.

How did Scotty From Marketing come about?

Scott Morrison used to work in marketing.

He was in charge of Tourism Australia when they produced the "Where the bloody hell are ya" campaign with Lara Bingle. One could argue no tact was used then either...but I digress.

If you look up this campaign, you'll find out is was banned in several countries for being offensive (oops, probably could've looked that up before the concept was finalised...but anyway) and that Australian tourism actually decreased after the $180m campaign, which was pulled in 2008.

Scott Morrison was fired from his job at Tourism Australia for unpublished reasons.

So marketers, he's a marketer.

I'm not sure how we would have fared in the election of the general public had known he was a professional at positioning. He did play the goofy dad character quite well though.

Anyway - that's not the whole story of how he became Scotty From Marketing.

The Betoota Advocate, the one publication we can rely on to actually tell it like it is and Australia’s oldest newspaper had something to do with it too.

On Reddit, user Yelling_At_Clouds explains the "from marketing" part probably originated in their articles referencing a "pigeon from marketing" in regards to the promotion of Rugby Union in Australia - and other instances of incompetence.

Scott Morrison had been referred to as "Scotty" previously when he didn't pay to renew his domain in time and someone bought it out from under him, making the whole site the Scotty Doesn't Know song from EuroTrip.

It's a deliberately disrespectful and patronising nickname, so add the "From Marketing" which in this case is historically accurate, and also accurate to the culture of Betoota's articles on incompetence and there you have it - Scotty From Marketing.

Because we know how our industry is thought of, don't we marketers?

We've all had to work harder to gain the trust of clients due to past marketing abuses.

We've all taken over accounts that are a complete mess and spent weeks or months undoing the damage.

We all know a Scotty From Marketing.

Ok - ScoMo was in Marketing... but I wanted to know what most PMs did before politics so I looked at all the Australian Prime Ministers since I was born.

And it turns out we haven't had anyone with a marketing background as PM - at least not since I've been alive.

Many of the list below had completed law degrees (even though they didn't all end up practicing law)

Malcolm Fraser (75-83) - Liberal Party

Sheep farmer.

Bob Hawke (83-91) - Labor Party

Rhode Scholar.

President of the ACTU.

Paul Keating (91-96) - Labor Party

Left school at 14.

Worked as a clerk.

John Howard (96-07) - Liberal Party


Julia Gillard (10-13) - Labor Party


Student Union.

Kevin Rudd (07-10 & 13 ish) - Labor Party

Department of Foreign Affairs.

Tony Abbott (13-15) - Liberal Party

Failed Priest.


Rhodes Scholar.

Malcolm Turnbull (15-18) - Liberal Party



Venture Capitalist.

So it seems a career in marketing isn't the stepping stone to the top job...

But does this affect marketers or the industry as a whole? I don't think it does. People already have a distrust of marketers so I think we'll be fine.

Brand ScoMo isn't fairing as well though. And he hasn't followed the PR golden rules in a crisis

to mitigate the fallout. As such there's multiple petitions to ditch him as the PM, and one calling on him to meet with fire & rescue experts that has over 130k signatures.

You can even buy a Hawaiian shirt with his face on it that was so popular the website crashed. The product description is cleverly written:

Australia is reeling from an unprecedented bushfire emergency, and to rub coal into the wound, the Prime Minister has smirk-bombed his way to Hawaii for a refreshing mai tai. To mark this momentous abrogation of responsibility, MR. KOYA has created the Mahalo ScoMo – an enduring combination of Hawaiian vibes, simpering leadership vacuums, and the colours of an increasingly-combustible Australian summer.

The PR aspect of recent ScoMo antics have been widely reported on in The Guardian, Mumbrella, and even the Sydney Morning Herald.

What should he have done differently?

Well, aside from his job of running the country (which should include making sure that both nature, personnel and resources are prepared for fire season) when the PMs PR goes pear-shaped they need to follow the same PR principles as anyone else. If anything more closely.

Don't forget he's not a marketing team of one. He has advisors, agencies and the like all 'helping' him manage these instances of public backlash. Thats money well-spent.

So what SHOULD he have done?

IMO - first, be present. Being absent from a disaster is even more disastrous. Natural or PR.

Second, take responsibility. It doesn't matter who on the team did the thing, the leader is ALWAYS responsible. Blame is for the weak. Blaming your kids is even worse.

Stop referring to the state teams (premiers, etc) - we know it's just so you can blame them later. Also stop saying "Jenny and I," Australia didn't elect her, and "my wife thinks I'm cool" is not an endorsement. She's not Michelle Obama.

Thirdly, communicate with EVERYONE. Folks on the ground, experts, the public...

Forth: Show some compassion and common sense. Don't visit disaster-stricken areas without supplies, don't force people to shake your hand, understand that they are hurting and will be for some time emotionally, physically and mentally.

Fifth (actually this should have been number one) stop smirking! The latest presser I saw he almost looked like a leader in the scripted part - then as soon as the Q&A from the journos started he went back to smug-and-defensive as is his default setting.

You'd think as a professional spin doctor and long serving (?) politician he'd have better read the room, or at least when he realised the room was on fire, done a better job at putting out at least the PR flames and not fanning them.

Wanna read more about "Scotty From Marketing" and see how prolific it's become? Tap this link:

So how will Scott Morrison survive? WILL he survive? What happens next?

All I can say is #notmymarketingdepartment.


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