Harvey Norman unfairly ridiculed on Media Watch

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: Harvey Norman was last night the subject of ridicule as Media Watch lambasted the Launceston Examiner for running an insensitive advertisement on its front page. Harvey Norman was promoting its range of retail air conditioners; unfortunately, this was positioned below the Examiner’s detailed coverage of the Victorian bushfires.

The advertisement’s copy, which reads “…getting warmer, warmer, very warm, now you’re getting really hot…,” and later, “Escape the heat at Harvey Norman,” was directly below bushfire related newspaper banners including “It’s mass murder, says Kevin Rudd”, “700 homes destroyed” and “Death toll hits 135”.

Media Watch host Jonathan Holmes rightly attacked the newspaper, and not Harvey Norman, for this insensitive front page, saying on the ABC programme last night, “Did nobody at the Launceston Examiner actually look at their own front page before they sent it to the presses late last Monday night?”.

For Harvey Norman, this is more a case of bad luck than bad management. Advertisements such as this are written and booked well before the agency and the media buyers know what news stories will dominate headlines.

Regardless, it is not Harvey Norman’s responsibility to lay out newspapers in which they advertise; that is the remit of the newspaper staff. In this example, Harvey Norman is the unfortunate lame duck of its error of judgment.

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