'Everybody hide, an election is coming!'

An examination why some Australian advertising agencies refuse political accounts

David Waller and Michael Jay Polonsky

This article examines Australian advertising agency executives' attitudes towards political advertising and political accounts. The study examined a sample of 101 advertising agency executives from Australia's 300 largest agencies to determine why some Australian agencies refuse to accept political accounts. The results, combined with comments from various advertising agency executives, have provided a number of suggestions for agencies planning to obtain or keep their existing political accounts.


Political advertising has been playing an increasingly important role in election campaigns in democratic countries around the world. Millions of dollars are regularly spent on promoting candidates at all levels of government (Kaid et al., 1986). In the USA this growth in spending on political advertising has been accompanied by an increase in the number of political consultants who are wholly devoted to the running of political campaigns, which has resulted in a decrease in advertising agency involvement (Sabato,1981; Hill, 1984). The Australian political system still depends on advertising agencies to run these campaigns with little sign of following the US move to 'political consultants'. Evidence of this is the limited number of such 'political consultants'; only two are listed in the telephone directory of Australia's capital and they act primarily as lobbyists.