The Demtel Man

Those who remember free to air television in the 80s and 90s will remember the advertising for ‘as seen on TV’ products marketed by a company called Demtel. A quick Google search will remind you of the process if you are fortunate enough to have either not lived through the era, only watched Channel 2 (the only ABC Channel in those long-gone days) or have completely and probably mercifully forgotten how annoying the advertising really was. Alternately, watch one of the TV shopping channels that infest digital television for ten minutes and think about how much they would have to speed up the delivery if they had to fit the product advertising into a minute or so long spot on one of the commercial television stations.

Demtel’s favourite ‘spruiker’ was Tim Shaw. He is famous enough to have a Wikipedia stub article. While the time worn joke ‘but wait there’s more — ring in the next ten minutes and receive a free set of steak knives’ probably had its origins in a Demtel advertisement spruiked by Shaw, the promise of gold bullion or fame and riches beyond compare as the ‘free extra’ is probably an exaggeration. However, Shaw did attempt to sell the proverbial ice to Eskimos (with the previously mentioned steak knives as a free gift) with some initial success.

A bit like Scott Morrison really. Morrison has made a lot of announcements since his rise to the Prime Ministership. It’s almost looking like he’s back in the advertising agency brainstorming slogans to get the mug punter to buy the pretty shiny new toy they neither want or need. Former Liberal Party Leader (and co-incidentally also a former Member for Wentworth) John Hewson recently wrote an opinion article for Fairfax listing Morrison’s various policy announcements/backflips during the Wentworth by-election.
the lingering image of him hugging a lump of coal; his defence of advertising on the sails of the Opera House, wanting to see not just horse racing but also car racing; his mishandling of the issues of funding and independence of the ABC generated by the dismissal of chief executive Michelle Guthrie; his multiple positions on the treatment of gay students and teachers; the white supremacist/neo-Nazi parliamentary vote; announcing the possible shift of our embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (even after most devout Jews in the electorate would have already pre-voted, to avoid having to do so on the Sabbath); the possible rejuvenation of a New Zealand deal on refugee resettlement; and then, finally, the assertion that a Kerryn Phelps win meant “instability”, conveniently ignoring the instability in his own party that had resulted in the byelection in the first place.
Fortunately, it seems others with some influence aren’t buying the slogans either. A group who manages substantial Qantas shareholdings have asked the company to review its policy of transporting refugees and asylum seekers at the behest of the Australian Government citing
Qantas is “exposed to certain human rights-related risks”.

“Allegations of human rights abuses can inflict, at a minimum, reputational damage and may dramatically affect shareholder value … We believe that a thorough review of how this issue is being handled would be in the best interests of shareholders.”
Shareholders of Whitehaven Coal are likewise concerned about climate change, possibly moving a resolution at the Annual General Meeting in the next few weeks that
calls on the company to disclose climate change-related risks to shareholders, in line with recommendations of the Financial Stability Board’s taskforce on climate-related financial disclosures.

Another proposal says that shareholders call on the board to make strategy and capital expenditure decisions “consistent with the climate goals of the Paris agreement” in order to safeguard the longer-term success of the company and respond to risks and opportunities posed by climate change.
The same article also reports that the rail transport company Aurizon acknowledged at their Annual General Meeting that parts of their rail network may be stranded assets at some point in the next 50 years due to reduced demand for coal.

Even Hewson has a problem with Morrison’s lack of real management ability. From the same article as above
Morrison’s only hope is a new beginning. He will surely last until the next election, so he should seize the opportunity by leading a complete policy reset, a complete repositioning of the Coalition. Not just a remarketing exercise, but a substantive reset, addressing issues such as climate, refugees, integrity in government, the cost of living and broad-based tax reform. Policy boldness would be his electoral friend. He simply must be seen to be attending to the health of the government horse, putting other potential jockeys in their place.

I doubt he is capable of even thinking about this. I fear he will continue to slide from bad to worse. The COAG energy ministers are to meet this Friday. Energy is mostly a state responsibility, the Commonwealth having only a limited platform for influence. Yet, apparently Energy Minister Angus Taylor is attempting to heavy them to ditch anything to do with emission reduction strategies and an effective transition to renewables in favour of his “socialist” regulation of the “gentailers”. In the hope of a genuine energy/climate action plan, the states must stand their ground.
Morrison doesn’t have a quality product to sell and while there are always those that will fall for the fancy new thing regardless of its actual usefulness or quality, as people realise they are getting poor value for their money, they’ll move on. Morrison has been in power for a couple of months and there has been no improvement in the polls, continual criticism of his actions by his own side of politics and amazement that he still can’t articulate why Turnbull was so bad he had to go (while continuing to implement Turnbull’s policy settings).

Maybe we should go back to Demtel to see how this ends. Tim Shaw is now the breakfast announcer of Canberra’s ‘talk radio’ station (which also relays Alan Jones and Ray Hadley) while the company owner spent nearly five years in jail for money laundering ‘But wait- there’s more’ indeed.

What do you think?

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David Heath


Did you realise that TVSN had its roots in Demtel? 

When the US TVC execs came to Australia in the mid 90s to set up a TV shopping channel, they bought the whole of Demtel to quickly obtain TV production facilities an a call centre.

On a separate note... departing Prime Ministers always seem to fall on their feet in some well-paid business role... but I'm totally stumped if I can figure out who might employ Scott Morrison once he loses the election.

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Our Demtel PM is not doing well.

Morrison’s sales pitch to Kerryn Phelps is coming unstuck, as is demonstrated in this article by Bevan Shields in The Sydney Morning Herald:  

Back in August, this is what Bill Shorten wrote in The Guardian: Morrison a less popular salesman than Turnbull, which begs the question of how good a salesman, with or without steak knives, he ever was.   

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For a chilling résumé of our newly-minted Demtel PM, take a look at the Featured Video halfway up the page.

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Here's another article that questions our Demtel PM's behaviour: If Scott Morrison wants to get re-elected he needs to learn to shut up, by Sean Kelly in The Sydney Morning Herald 

And he should take John Howard's words seriously:  Politics is “not a public relations tournament”.

lawrence winder

  1.  Shonky Ruling Rabble.....why not Demtel man?  This incompetent cabal, finally,  is only achieving its true natural level.
T-w-o take away o-n-e equals?