The Electrical Trades Union has addressed a Queensland government asset sales campaign by registering a domain name similar to the official campaign website.
The background to this move is that the Queensland government has proposed a number of solutions to deal with the state’s $80 billion worth of debt, including selling public companies (such as those in the electrical industries) to private investors.
The official website – www.strongchoices.qld.gov.au – has resources and information to engage the public in discussions about the economic situation and budget, with phrases such as “Dealing With Queensland’s Accumulated Debt Problems” and “Great State. Great Opportunity” prominent on the site.
The Electrical Trades Union (ETU), on the other hand, has set up www.strongchoices.com.au, which calls for people to “join the campaign to save your essential public assets”. When the ETU set up the site, it also paid for Google ads that set it at the top of the search results, although the government has since invested in its own site to improve the ranking of the official site.
At the moment, the ETU site is basically just a splash page with links to the ETU’s official campaign website against the sale of electricity assets in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
But ETU state secretary Peter Simpson still says that buying this country code top-level domain name was “money well spent” and that registering the domain name was surprisingly easy considering the PR company employed by the government has been paid over $6 million to effectively run the “Strong Choices” campaign.
“The union has nowhere near $6 million to spend on a campaign, we have no access to unlimited public funding,” Simpson explains in a Brisbane Times interview.
“So we thought, why not throw a few Google ads around advertising our site and let Queenslanders come to a real site with real facts, not a biased joke such as the other one.”
Simpson says the idea came from one of the ETU’s supporters and highlights “how much of a cobbled together campaign Strong Choices really is.”
Political motives aside, the ETU’s move shows how effective buying a domain name can be when you have a message to share with the public. What’s more is that it can be a lot cheaper than traditional campaign programs and – with some investment in advertising and seo – as effective as you want.