HomeMark McGowan, Scott Morrison, Annastacia Palaszczuk: Why Australian politicians love Bunnings

Mark McGowan, Scott Morrison, Annastacia Palaszczuk: Why Australian politicians love Bunnings

It’s no secret Aussies love Bunnings – and it seems our politicians are just as infatuated with the DIY mecca, for one cunning reason.

Earlier this month, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk grabbed a Bunnings snag while chatting to shoppers at the hardware giant as part of her state’s vaccination campaign.

Last week, WA Premier Mark McGowan also urged the public to “get a snag and roll up for WA” in a hilarious TikTok urging people to get jabbed at Bunnings.

And even Prime Minister Scott Morrison seems to be a fan of the DIY mecca, after being spotted shopping at Bunnings last year.

In fact, in 2020, the PM went viral with not one but two Bunnings-related social media posts, after building a cubby house for his daughters using Bunnings materials, and after sharing a snap of an inflatable toy he bought at the chain on Facebook.

It seems Australian politicians are just as obsessed with Bunnings as everyday voters are, with leaders from across the political spectrum falling over themselves to be snapped at an outlet or to casually name drop the retailer in conversation.

It’s so common that the practice has repeatedly been called out by commentators, with even satirical platform the Betoota Advocate noting Mr Morrison’s Bunnings fixation.

But is there more to this odd trend than meets the eye?

Savvy move

According to public relations expert Nicole Reaney, our politicians’ universal love for the store was likely part of a calculated plan.

She told news.com.au pollies were likely hoping to align themselves with such an iconic, well-loved brand in the minds of voters, and that using Bunnings in the vaccine roll out specifically was a smart move to encourage vaccination uptake.

“Unlike the vaccine or politicians themselves, Bunnings is not divisive and is an adored retailer to many Aussies,” Ms Reaney explained.

“It’s iconically Australian, a popular destination and is completely removed from sterile medical environments people associate with health procedures.

“These are attempts to appeal to everyday Aussies and encourage uptake of the vaccine as simply and easily as a ‘trip to Bunnings’. Research also shows that men are generally least likely to attend to health matters, and by aligning to Bunnings, they are capturing this market in a place they are most comfortable.”

Ms Reaney stressed that Bunnings had broad appeal.

“Bunnings is a retailer almost every Aussie frequents – it has something for everyone, and even when it doesn’t, people can count on the sausage sanger to top off the trip,” she said.

“During lockdown, Bunnings remained one of the most-visited retailers, with lines of people eager to escape isolation with a little home improvement.”

She said the state governments were likely working with Bunnings’ marketing team, but said there was a small risk involved.

“It can possibly backfire in that it makes light of the vaccine and the significance of the pandemic to the community and medical sector,” she said.

‘Milking’ votes

Amanda Williams, a public relations director and former political media adviser for both federal and state politicians in Queensland, told news.com.au it was a savvy move to align with such a popular brand, although she agreed there were some risks involved.

“The last time I looked at the stats, I believe around 50 per cent of Australians actually shop at Bunnings regularly, so we know there’s a lot of allegiance there with voters,” she said.

“Partnering with Bunnings is smart because it gives access to Bunnings consumers … and it also makes the politician look like a regular, Aussie person who also happens to shop at Bunnings – they are trying to be relatable.”

But Ms Williams said this ploy could backfire, with Australians having little patience with politicians who try and “pull the wool over our eyes”.

“We are smarter than they think we are, so we tend to see these things for what they are,” she said.

Ms Williams said political stunts were rarely used out of fear they could go wrong, but said Mark McGowan’s Bunnings TikTok was an example of one done right, attracting mostly positive feedback so far.

“These stunts are a great way of showing a human side and that Aussie spirit and larrikinism, to laugh and downplay a serious situation … it was a smart move and while there is a risk of appearing to be too crafted, it’s no coincidence the government and Bunnings are pairing up and collaborating,” she said.

“There has never been a time like this where everyone knows the names of the Premiers, so it’s a great time for them to get their names out there and get their messages across.”

Ms Williams said it was rare for politicians to align themselves with one particular major retailer, but said it could also be an attempt to boost vaccination rates among men in particular, or perhaps due to the fact that Bunnings was simply more willing to come to the party.

But at the end of the day, she said one thing was clear.

“Pollsters know how to milk things for votes,” she said.


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