Exclusive by Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: Harvey Norman is currently running a television advertising campaign in which chairman Gerry Harvey talks up his company’s Aussie credentials. Is this a legitimate strategy, or is Harvey just shelving the blame for mass sackings onto the consumers?

In the ads, Harvey talks about how his publicly listed company supports Australian made, and that for this to continue, consumers must also support Australian brands and companies when they make purchases.

In order to find out whether this is a legitimate advertising strategy or the shirking of responsibility, a la Pacific Brands CEO Sue Morphett, we spoke to Current.com.au’s consultant advertising expert, OgilvyOne account executive Christopher Pascoe.

“Australians are a proud people and are very nationalistic, so I understand Harvey Norman’s strategy,” said Pascoe. “For as long as I know, Australians have been told that they should support Australian made and Australian owned because it is a quality product, and it keeps Australians employed.”

But how effective is this angle in penetrating the national psyche?

“Especially during this economic downturn, Australians want to help their mates – other Australians.”

Meanwhile, Harvey has been acclaimed for his advertising ingenuity on the high-rating ABC show The Gruen Transfer. Regular panellist Todd Sampson jokingly credited Harvey with “inventing” the emotional use of words such as ‘free’ and the phrase ‘no more to pay’ on the program’s 18 March episode.

Sampson noted that in periods of economic downturn, advertisers need to focus on getting consumers to think less about their purchases, as “the more time you have to think about a purchase, the less likely you are to make it.”