The Fake Tradie ad is an insightful piece of subversive modern performance art, says the fake advertising agent behind the Coalition’s new promotional campaign. He speaks exclusively to Independent Australia.
WHEN MELBOURNE PERFORMANCE ARTIST Branler Massif decided to set up a fake advertising agency about a month ago, he had no idea he would soon be catapulted right into the middle of the 2016 Federal election campaign.
The idea behind the agency, which Massif named It’s Unreal, was to produce fake advertisements that would provide an ironic commentary on modern methods of persuasion and propaganda. His aim was to convincingly ape a modern advertising agency in all respects, even to the extent of opening a fake office and setting up a fake commercial website.
And so when Federal Liberal Party national campaign director Tony Nutt responded to a fake advertisement on It’s Unreal’s fake website and asked Massif to produce a commercial for the Liberal Party, Massif was delighted to assist. He regards the advertisement as, perhaps, his magnum opus so far.
Today, Independent Australia spoke to Bran Massif in the wake of the extraordinary social media reaction to his fake advertisement, which began airing over the weekend.
INDEPENDENT AUSTRALIA: Mr Massif, thanks for speaking to us this morning. First of all, can I ask you about the social media reaction to your Liberal Party advertisement featuring the fake tradie.
FAKE ADVERTISING EXECUTIVE BRANLER MASSIF: I think it’s fantastic. I’m absolutely delighted. I haven’t had this sort of public reaction since I succeeded in gaining employment as a fake adviser to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and managed to persuade him to make himself minister for women. This sort of performance art is time consuming and not easy to pull off, but when it works it is extremely gratifying. So yeah, chuffed.
INDEPENDENT AUSTRALIA: What precisely were you hoping to convey by this work?
BRANLER MASSIF: Well, this is art, so it’s not precision. Clearly, people will respond differently to it, depending on their viewpoint. But I guess it would be fair to say it was a satirical take on modern political campaigning, and its transparent trickery, fakery and, in the main, poorly executed propaganda. A fake advertisement, featuring a faux tradesman in an obviously staged environment, mouthing false and unconvincing platitudes on behalf a political party that is really just a front for big business, and which is led by a rich, patronising phoney — that was what I was angling for and, it appears, that is how it has been received.
INDEPENDENT AUSTRALIA: It seems that social media has picked up on the majority of the themes you have embedded in your work, but do you think you made your fake advertisement too convincing? Do you think some people may mistake it for a real ad?
BRANLER MASSIF: Well, we are talking about Australians here, so I guess some of the more gullible might. But, really, it’s pretty clear that this “tradie” [does air quotes] is an actor who had never been on a worksite in his life. To make that even more apparent, we made him sit on a workbench puzzlingly situated in the middle of a laneway outside the worksite, with a plugged in buzzsaw placed perilously close to his dangling gold bracelet and Rolex. In fact, we deliberately placed as many OHS issues in that advertisement as we possibly could so there could be no confusion about its genuineness and in the hope we may be able on-sell this ad to WorkSafe as a “what not to do”.
Of course, we also asked the British actor we hired to not quite conceal his real accent and had him end with: "I reckon we should see it through and just stick with the current mob for a while." I mean, come on! No fair dinkum political advertisement would end with something so pathetically wishy washy. If anyone was spoofed by this obvious parody ad, then more fool them.
INDEPENDENT AUSTRALIA: What has been the response from the Liberal Party about the almost universally negative reaction to the ad?
BRANLER MASSIF: Well, when people are satirised and mocked, they are seldom happy about it, but I presume they will eventually see the funny side and accept what I was hoping to achieve in the cause of art.
INDEPENDENT AUSTRALIA: But the Liberal Party actually commissioned the advertisement, didn’t they?
BRANLER MASSIF: No, no. Don’t be silly. It was commissioned by someone who called himself Tony Nutt, who was clearly doing a satirical impersonation of a campaign director for a party of rightwing nutjobs. He was definitely "Nutt" [airquotes] the real McCoy. Frankly, I was impressed that he commissioned the advertisement fully in character. It certainly did add to what I was trying to achieve.
INDEPENDENT AUSTRALIA: Makes sense. Thank you for speaking to Independent Australia.
BRANLER MASSIF: No worries.
BREAKING: Liberal Party sources reveal #faketradie ad was produced by a fake advertising agency.— Dave Donovan (@davrosz) June 19, 2016
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Malcolm Turnbull sounds pretty hoarse this morning. Probably from shouting at Tony Nutt about that #faketradie ad.— Dave Donovan (@davrosz) June 19, 2016