Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been called a lot of things during his time in office. From the arguably affectionate moniker ScoMo to more critical pseudonyms like SmoKo and Liar From The Shire. But there’s one that’s persisted over the past few months and he just can’t shake it — Scotty from Marketing. We dug into where those three perfectly placed words originated from and why it’s likely to stick.
If you’re a regular on Twitter or Reddit, the popular hashtag to describe Australia’s Prime Minister, #ScottyFromMarketing, has been seen in the trending bar almost daily over the past few months. With rising frustrations over the government’s handling of the bushfires and the response to their path of destruction, it’s not a moniker that’s likely to subside any time soon. Let’s dig into to where it all began.
The first stone
Betoota Advocate published an article about Morrison’s ascendancy to Prime Minister on 8 August 2018. In it, the satirical website referred to him as the ‘Nightwatchman’ but in the third last paragraph, those three magic words are uttered. Our old pals at Betoota Advocate have confirmed it was their first reference to the phrase.
The ingenious phrase’s origins on Twitter are a bit more recent and can be traced back to an account, @GazBruce, in February 2019.
Has Scotty from Marketing just flagged that they're about to let some of these "stopped" boats through to make a political point?— Gee Bee. ???? (@GazBruce) February 12, 2019
This mysterious ‘Gaz’ account continued to use the phrase for the months leading up until December, along with a small handful of other accounts. The first time the hashtag was used was on 12 May 2019.
Around 14 months later, Betoota published another article on 12 November 2019, alluding to Morrison’s background in marketing.
It started with the opening paragraph:
Scotty from Marketing has been urged to do something. Address the nation, stand up there next to someone doing sign language, bring in the army, fucken anything.
Following the Betoota article on 8 December, Google Search traffic for the phrase spiked dramatically.
The internet had found the perfect three words to describe their fury, which only compounded as the crisis worsened and it was revealed Morrison had taken a holiday to Hawaii in the midst of it. A holiday his office denied he had taken, until mounting evidence forced the prime minister’s hand and he finally apologised.
Why Scotty from Marketing?
A quick look at Morrison’s career answers this question pretty simply. Prior to entering parliament in 2007 as the Member for Cook, an electoral division in Sydney’s southern suburbs, he was the managing director of Tourism Australia between 2004 and 2006.
Naturally, Tourism Australia’s primary purpose is to market the country as a nice, viable place for foreigners to visit and it might sound like an insignificant job for a prime minister if it had not been for one viral ad campaign during his tenure — the infamous ‘Where the bloody hell are ya’ ad.
While the ad has been cemented as ‘iconic’, due to its tacky taglines, it was highly controversial and was banned in both the UK and Canada due to the use of ‘bloody’.
Shortly after its release, Morrison’s three-year contract, giving him an alleged $350,000-a-year salary, was prematurely terminated, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report. He’d allegedly had a bitter falling out with the then-Tourism Minister, Fran Bailey.
Prior to that, he was the director of New Zealand’s Office of Tourism and Sport in 1998. It’s there he oversaw the adoption of the country’s wildly successful “100% Pure New Zealand” campaign, still in use today. So, there’s no denying that marketing is definitely one of his strengths.
Of course, the subtext about this moniker is the fact that he’s really good at advertising what he’s meant to be doing, rather than actually doing it. That’s where it’s supposed to sting him and apparently, it actually does…
Scotty doesn’t like it
While it’s certainly not the only negative moniker used to refer to Morrison, it’s now become the most common and this means it’s drawn his attention. In an interview with 3AW’s Neil Mitchell on Monday, he commented on the moniker being generated as a smear campaign from the opposition party, Labor.
“That’s what the Labor Party is saying and if others want to repeat those slogans, well, they’re just basically running a Labor Party campaign,” Morrison told 3AW.
“They’re going to seek to take political advantage of a crisis. I think that’s disappointing. I’m just focused on what people need. I’ll leave the politics and the commentary and the hoopla to others.”
It’s not the first time Morrison has dismissed the internet’s criticisms. He has previously commented on the widely-circulated conspiracy that Morrison unleashed his bowels in Sydney’s Engadine McDonald’s in 1997 after a NRL grand final.
“I note the great collective that runs the gallery has in its infinite wisdom decided to put tonight’s speech officially on the record,” Morrison said at the 2019 Midwinter Ball in front of a crowd of journalists.
“Sure, your call. But now you won’t get to hear… what really happened at the Engadine McDonald’s in 1997. It will remain the mystery of the ages.”
But as long as Morrison is perceived as being in Scotty From Marketing mode, the internet will continue to respond with more creative digs at him. Today, it’s pretty simple — #CrimeMinister.
Australia is facing a catastrophic bushfire season. It's not yet summer but bushfires have already ravaged parts of NSW, Queensland and Western Australia with the first catastrophic fire danger alert being recorded in Australian history. But a lot of the dialogue has turned to how it got this bad. Climate change is being touted as one of the major factors contributing to this crisis but with politicians playing down those claims and even censoring discussion of it, let's take a look at the links between climate change and one of Australia's most devastating bushfire seasons on record.Read more
Correction: Lifehacker Australia has updated the article to clarify it was Betoota Advocate with the first usage of the phrase.