Labor ad agency tried to bribe journos
to slag Turnbull’s NBN plan



blog Wow. There certainly is a bit of a propaganda war going on out there. We’ve seen a lot of questionable comments and activities from the Coalition with respect to the National Broadband Network project over the years. But I don’t think we’ve seen anything quite this bad before. The Sydney Morning Herald reports this morning that Labor ad agency Naked Communications offered exclusive interviews with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, in response for editorial coverage favourable to Labor — including on the NBN. The newspaper reports (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“The deal, which also encouraged journalists to produce “entertaining content on the theme of the inadequacy of the Liberal NBN plan”, was rejected on ethical grounds by Fairfax Media’s popular culture website, TheVine.”

I think it should be clear to everyone that this behaviour is unacceptable, and I highly support The Vine’s response in rejecting the ad brief put through by Naked Communications, as well as its move to report the issue to fellow Fairfax stablemate The Sydney Morning Herald. I’ve personally seen some pretty “out there” advertising briefs in my time in my decade in journalism, but I’ve never seen anything which crosses the commercial/editorial lines quite this badly. Exclusive interviews with the Prime Minister? In an advertising agency brief? In exchange for coverage slagging the Coalition? That’s the definition of unethical behaviour in the media industry. We hope that Rudd’s response is accurate and that nobody higher up the chain authorised this behaviour. I certainly think Naked, after being dumped from the Labor account, will be thinking twice about doing this again.

Image credit: Eva Rinaldi, Creative Commons


  1. It’s definitely not worse than having Rupert Murdoch force all of his media outlets to publish unfavorable copy about Labor and especially the NBN while at the same time giving Tony Abbott and the Libs a complete scrutiny holiday!

    • If this had come from Labor directly, then it would be far worse. As it is, it seems to be a result of an extremely arrogant (and really rather amateur) man. How an idiot like this could get into this position in the first place is beyond me. I wager if you were to dig a little you would find examples of other morally/ethically/professionally questionable behaviour in the course of this guy’s career.

  2. As much as I’d love to see “entertaining content on the theme of the inadequacy of the Liberal NBN plan” in the press, I only want to see it from writers that actually mean it. Attempting to bribe Fairfax in exchange for interviews with Rudd is seriously unethical and stupid. They must have known they were taking a big risk to make such an offer, and that Fairfax would print this should it be turned down, so someone has fu##ed up hard.

  3. Given that Labor actually sacked the company once this was brought to their attention, perhaps a fairer headline would read “Labor Sacks ad agency for trying to bribe journos to slag Turnbull’s NBN plan”?

    Just a thought. It is only incidentally, in the last sentence, that Labor’s response is mentioned.

  4. According to Crikey, the ALP has sacked them.

    encouraged journalists to produce “entertaining content on the theme of the inadequacy of the Liberal NBN plan”

    And seriously, most non-partisan journalists don’t need to be “encouraged” to see the inadequacies of the LBN anyway, they are self evident…the ALP was wasting their money with them.

    • The problem about Coalition policy is NOT self evident hence all Labor can come up with is emotional incorrect rubbish about $5K to get off copper under the Coalition, and just keep mentioning over and over the word copper in isolation, and make sure you don’t ever state the term Fibre to the Node in any context.

      There is plenty of meat if you want to pick apart Coalition policy, but it means you have to get bogged down in a technical debate on FTTN vs FTTP, put that in the too hard basket, and if left to Labor MP’s in the electorates to do it they would no doubt stuff it up to so badly they might end up selling FTTN.

      Too risky, keep it simple, and scare the electorate into wanting Labor NBN.

      • “The problem about Coalition policy is NOT self evident”…

        To some (including a few obvious ones right here).

        Speaking of which… wow did you just admit there is a “problem” with the Coalition’s policy…?

        Oh no you just mentioned the words Coalition, policy and problem in the one sentence.

      • but it means you have to get bogged down in a technical debate on FTTN vs FTTP

        Actually, it’s not even that narrow, you’ve been proved wrong on many other aspects of the LBN before, but decide to have amnesia about it…it just makes you come across as a bit sad and more than a bit bitter…

        I (and indeed many others here) concede some points to you (I agree that NBNCo should be allowed to do FTTB for MDU’s for example), but you can concede nothing at all about the LBN, for you it seems it’s your telecoms nirvana, with nothing at all that needs adjustment, in fact you seem to revel in the short-sightedness of it.

        The world must be a scary place for conservatives such as you, the very markets you adore, are those that drive the change you fear…

  5. That’s what we need a bit of competition for the Murdochracy and cloning of their strategies.

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