A Scene-By-Scene Breakdown Of The Most Awkward Government Ad Of All Time
What the hell is a paleo pear?
Governments are notoriously shit at advertising anything. Remember Stoner Sloth? The NSW government spent $350,000 on a video featuring a stoned sloth having a great time. There’s absolutely no way it discouraged drug use, which was apparently its aim.
Now the federal Department of Finance is copping criticism for an incredibly awkward three minute video attempting to lure the best and brightest university grads to apply for a job. The video is called ‘The Game Changers’ and somehow cost $37,000, which is an extraordinary amount of money for something this bad.
The ad doesn’t feature any actors. Instead, real-life public servants read out terrible lines while trying to make the Department of Finance — one of the most boring places in the word — sound exciting. Let’s delve right into it.
The Game Changer Meets Senior Influencers
I wish this headline was a joke, but it is actually a literal description of the opening scene.
Meet the “Senior Influencers”:
Influencer One (the guy on the right) tells Influencer Two that he’s “so stoked” about his presentation to the executive this afternoon. “It’s been a massive challenge but I’m definitely looking forward to it,” he says to Influencer Two, who totally ignores him.
Mate. No one is stoked about presenting to the executive. What are you stoked about? You work in the Department of Finance, calm the fuck down. Also, why are they Influencers? Is that their actual job title? Seems a bit weird for the Department of Finance? Do they have a huge Instagram presence? No wonder the country is going down the drain.
Next up the Influencers meet our first Game Changer:
Game Changer One is supposed to be the person the ad’s target audience identifies with. I think. She’s the hip young grad who makes working in the Department of Finance look fun and not at all dreary and mundane. So how does she do that?
By asking the Senior Influencers if they’d like to join her in consuming some “paleo pear” and banana bread. This bit is confusing, because it’s hard to tell if she’s about to indulge in a bit of paleo pear and banana bread, or if she’s eating bread that contains both bananas and paleo pear. On that note, what the hell is a paleo pear? According to Wikipedia pear traces have been found in prehistoric remains, which would suggest all pears are paleo.
Anyway, we’re only 22 seconds in so let’s not get too distracted by the history of pomaceous fruit.
How do the Senior Influencers respond to the Game Changer’s offer of fruit and bread? Well Influencer Two straight up laughs in her face, saying “It’s a little bit fancy for me.” What the hell lady? It’s a piece of ancient fruit and bread. It’s the least fanciest thing around. What do you think this is, McDonald’s?
It turns out Influencer Two doesn’t have much time anyway because she’s off to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff network meeting which is… actually kinda cool, and a great initiative. Good stuff, Department of Finance.
Influencer One just fails to respond to the question, then says goodbye to Influencer Two and starts walking down some stairs with Game Changer One. I guess they’re getting some snacks.
The Bureaucrats Talk About Insanely Boring Shit
On their way down to the snack bar, Influencer One asks Game Changer One what she thinks about the grad program.
“I’ve been here less than a year and I never thought I’d be working on a project supporting the modernisation program across government,” she replies.
“Awesome,” says Influencer One.
Let’s be clear about one thing: this is not awesome. That sentence means absolutely nothing. What is the modernisation program across government? What’s your project? Arghh! This is why people hate bureaucracy!
Influencer One then appears to ask out the Game Changer? Which seems wildly inappropriate given the imbalance in their professional roles and responsibilities, and the power dynamic at play?
Awkwardly, the pair then run into the Deputy freaking Secretary of the Department of Finance responsible for Budget and Financial Reporting! Out of everyone to bump into!
David tells Game Changer One (who we discover is called Claire) that he read her report. Cool. Good on you, David. Sounds like you have a great job.
Sadly, It’s Time To Say Goodbye To The Influencers
At this point we bid Influencer One and Game Change One/Claire farewell. We’re introduced to Rina, the ‘First Assistant Secretary’ (seems a bit socialist to me, good stuff) in charge of the Finance Transformation Program, which again sounds like absolutely nothing.
David tells Rina he’s heard this year’s grads are real game changers. Woah! Meta!! Great way to subtly name-check the video you’re in, David! He also says he’s heard some fantastic reports. Fuck, does this guy do anything other than read reports?
Rina makes a weird joke about forcing the graduates to sprint, which sounds very Hunger Games and maybe explains why they’re struggling to recruit grads and need to resort to awful videos like this?
David responds with this super weird laugh that sounds more like he’s struggling to breathe. Maybe he just finished the mandatory Department of Finance sprinting challenge?
Wait, They’re Back!
False alarm! Influencer One and Game Changer One are back!
“It’s really great that we can talk to executives like that!” Game Changer One says. Influencer One looks absolutely stoked. A pre-meeting with the executives before his big presentation to the executives? Stoked.
We also meet these two people, but they’re never properly introduced:
Surely the only thing worse than being strong-armed into performing in this horrible video promoting your workplace is being strong-armed into doing it when you don’t even get a speaking role.
But look what they’ve got!
It’s the banana bread! Just in case you forgot, the good folks at the Department of Finance snuck in a little Easter egg for us. No paleo pear though. It turns out the Department’s cafeteria just offers plain old, stock standard banana bread.
I have some bad news. There's no paleo pear & banana bread at the department of finance. Just $4 banana bread. pic.twitter.com/Z0zNN1QNFw
— Alice Workman (@workmanalice) March 1, 2017
Mystery solved, time to go home. Oh wait, we’re not even halfway through the stupid video.
Meet Game Changer Two, referred to by Game Changer One by his ‘real’ name, Eddy.
PS. Check out how upset Influencer One looks about the fact that Eddy’s rocked up on the scene. There’s definitely some tension there.
He looks like he’s going to clock him! Maybe Eddy has been flogging his presentation notes or something. Maybe Influencer One is just jealous of Eddy’s gorgeous hair.
Welcome To The “Buddy Program”
“Heyyyyy Buddy!” says Buddy One to Buddy Two, before apologising and explaining that he has to “do that every time” because he’s in the “buddy program”. I hate to break it to you Department of Finance, but this is another reason no one wants to work for you.
Why are you forcing your grads into a program where they have to do a weird impression of The Fonz every time they run into a colleague?
The two buddies make some awkward chit chat and then Buddy One bails, dropping a “Good luck, buddy!” on his way out. The word buddy was just used three times in 15 seconds. Appalling.
Jenna Joins The Budget Surge Team
This bit is absolutely the most boring part of the video.
Dane (on the left) asks Jenna if she’s interested in joining the “budget surge” team. Jenna is nearly as stoked as Influencer One and jumps at the opportunity.
In case you were wondering what the “budget surge” team is, allow me to explain. In 2016 the Department of Finance adopted a new operating model called the “surge readiness management model”. The idea is to build short-term teams that “surge towards work priorities as they arise”. The largest and most successful surge team has been the budget surge team which helped cost policy proposals and worked with Treasury to put together the federal budget.
There you go, you learnt something after all, making this torturous process worthwhile.
Meet The Game Changers (Again)
After Jenna joins the budget surge, all the Game Changers reunite and sit down for a meeting with the executives, but there’s a twist!
Influencer One was a Game Changer all along! Why did they introduce him as a Senior Influencer? Is anyone really who they say they are? What if the buddies in the buddy program aren’t really buddies? This whole house of cards is collapsing on itself.
I guess it’s a bit less weird that Influencer One asked out Game Changer One now.
It’s Finally Over
The Game Changers are being addressed by Rosemary Huxtable, the boss of the Department of Finance.
She gives props to the grads and everyone looks really pleased (stoked, even) with themselves. She then says that the whole board is looking forward to hearing each grad’s detailed presentation.
Then the video… just ends. That’s it. That’s the climax. The boss saying “Can’t wait to check out your presso!”. How did anyone think that this video, especially with that limp conclusion, was going to convince anyone to want to work at the Department of Finance?
The end title screen then tells people to check out finance.grad.careers which is the weirdest URL I’ve ever seen, and I spend a lot of time on the internet.
And what’s on that website? A link to watch the stupid video we just sat through! It’s an infinite loop of inanity, just like the government’s financial processes (boom tish)!
The site also features weird modelling shots of each of the Game Changers that make them look like characters from Suits. I’m sorry guys, the Department of Finance is not Suits. You’re the Department of Finance.
So, $37,000 for a boring, confusing, terrible video that ends up telling you to watch the video again. Money well spent.
Note: I have enormous respect for our hard-working public servants and I feel very bad about the fact their bosses probably told them to be in this bad video. It’s not your fault, Game Changers. Keep on changing the game.