5th April, 2017 ยท CEO Message

CEO Message No. 23

3 minutes to read

Last week, President Donald J Trump gave an in-depth interview to the Financial Times. Among many alternately fascinating and horrifying things the President said were these gems …

“I have over 100m followers between Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Over 100m. I don’t have to go to the fake media…
…You know if you issue hundreds of tweets, and every once in a while,
you have a clinker, that’s not so bad…” 1

Donald J Trump
45th President of the United States of America

In the messy fallout from his unexpected win last November (unexpected, that is, by the traditional media) one thing is fundamentally apparent. Since 1932, important and sometimes surprising victories in presidential elections have been won by candidates who better understood the shifts in media mix needed to tap into populist sentiment (the so-called Zeitgeist).

Franklin Delano Roosevelt won four consecutive terms as president because he understood the power of radio and used it in his ‘Fireside Chats’. John F Kennedy won in 1959 because he understood the new medium of television far better than Richard M Nixon and dominated the presidential debates on TV.

President Trump pulled off a stunning unexpected victory because he understood far better than Hillary Clinton how best to use two new 21st century media tools: reality television and social media.

For the AADA, the message is clear.

To win the battle for populist support with politicians in the legislatures of our nation we must modernise our media strategy, renovate our assets and use appropriate tactics to deliver our arguments. For example, ‘hundreds of tweets’ isn’t a tactic that comes naturally to mind, but apparently, it works.

Over the next few months you will begin to see changes at AADA that reflect modernisation of our thinking on communications.

One of the most important messages we can deliver to government is to assert and emphasise the power of our membership economically which can translate into electoral influence.

Those of you who attended the recent Town Hall Meetings conducted in all state capitals will have seen a prototype example of the Electorate Fast Facts interactive tool we are developing.

There is little point in keeping this powerful asset to ourselves. It needs to be all over modern social media platforms as well as being accessible to members as a Smartphone and tablet app that can be used instantly to demonstrate our economic contributions to Australia.

A recent shift in the competitive landscape adds urgency to our modernisation and provides a prime opportunity for leveraging this new thinking to our advantage.

The push to make more of our proprietary intellectual property available to independent non-franchised repairers at no or low cost is now gathering new and powerful support. A surprising new coalition of organisations wants the OEMs and franchised dealers to simply hand over large chunks of our business to the independents.

Led by AAAA’s social media misinformation strategy, they attempt to promote the myth of the ‘little guy’ being monstered by the multi-nationals, with AADA members as the supporting cast. We know that this is not the main agenda.

Our job is to use modern media to blunt this attack from AAAA and others, and to win hearts and minds on Capital Hill.

We do have a credible story around equity and fairness, not to mention employment and investment. Sometimes, these arguments lose out in the social narrative because politicians constantly look for the maximum electoral impact that policy changes can deliver. Given that, we must demonstrate our adeptness at engaging with social media to put our messages to the wider important audiences that our opponents constantly target.

While the never-ending attack on the Industry Agreement on Repair Information is a good example of the challenge, these same considerations apply to the other important matters on our work docket.

It will be an exciting journey into the future of communications and we are working hard to make the transition quickly.

We will of course keep you up to date with developments.

In the meantime, as always…

Good luck, and Good Selling!

Kind Regards

David Blackhall
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Automotive Dealer Association Ltd


1 Barber, Sevastopulo, Tett – Financial Times – April 4, 2017