exclusive

Australian ad giant Bill Muirhead and Liberal pollster Guy Creighton helping Rishi Sunak in UK election

Latika M Bourke
The Nightly
Australian ad giant Bill Muirhead, left, is part of the Aussie campaign cavalry helping out struggling Tory PM Rishi Sunak ahead of the July 4 election.
Australian ad giant Bill Muirhead, left, is part of the Aussie campaign cavalry helping out struggling Tory PM Rishi Sunak ahead of the July 4 election. Credit: Artwork by Will Pearce/The Nightly

The Conservative Party has hired veteran Australian advertising giant Bill Muirhead to help Rishi Sunak’s faltering election campaign land blows on Labour.

And The Nightly can reveal that one of the Liberal party’s most senior election campaigners, Guy Creighton, has been seconded in to work in Conservative Party Headquarters.

Britain goes to the polls on July 4. The Tories are headed for a wipe-out and are warning of a Labour Party supermajority if its own disaffected voters don’t turn out on polling day.

Sign up to The Nightly's newsletters.

Get the first look at the digital newspaper, curated daily stories and breaking headlines delivered to your inbox.

Email Us
By continuing you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

But the Conservatives are also facing a serious threat on its right flank from Nigel Farage’s Reform party.

The former UKIP leader who spearheaded calls for Brexit has enjoyed a surge in the polls and some celebrity backing.

Amongst his supporters are the former Neighbours star and pop singer Holly Valance, who donated £50,000 ($95,300) to Mr Farage’s campaign, using her father’s surname. Mr Farage and Valance are both major supporters of Donald Trump. Valance was reported to be considering a tilt at politics herself but in the end did not nominate.

Trying to stave off the threat of Reform splitting the vote and handing even more seats to Labour, under Britain’s first-past-the-post system is the task of Australian strategist Isaac Levido.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks at a Conservative Party election campaign event in London.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks at a Conservative Party election campaign event in London. Credit: ANDY RAIN/EPA

Mr Levido is a protege of Australian Lynton Crosby, whose firm Crosby Textor worked on winning campaigns for Boris Johnson and David Cameron.

Mr Crosby also worked with Mr Muirhead’s then advertising firm, M&C Saatchi to create the famous image of Labour Leader Ed Miliband in the pocket of SNP Leader Alex Salmond in 2015.

Mr Muirhead, 78, founded the new firm ACT III with his ex-Saatchi colleagues David Kershaw and Jeremy Sinclair. The trio has been contributing creative ideas to Mr Levido.

They devised the concept for the piggy bank ad which warns UK voters to start saving if Labour gets in.

Mr Muirhead, the former Agent-General for South Australia, is widely regarded as one of the best-connected Australians in London and counted the late Barry Humphries as one of his close friends.

The ad man became a global name in the 1970s when his former firm — Saatchi & Saatchi created the famous “Labour isn’t working” poster that contributed to Margaret Thatcher’s win.

Asked why his firm was willing to lend its creative vision to what is widely regarded as a losing campaign from the Tories, Mr Muirhead cited his roots.

“It’s never over until it’s over and my Australian instinct is to never give up,” Mr Muirhead told The Nightly.

“We’ve worked with the Conservative Party very successfully in the past.

“We strongly believe no party should ever think winning government is a fait accompli.

“Never surrender!”

Act III is not based inside Conservative Campaign Headquarters and its concepts are put together by the in-house digital team founded by Cass Horowitz, an adviser to Mr Sunak who ran a digital creative agency Founders Makers before going into Number 10. It is a departure from Mr Levido’s use of the Kiwi outfit Topham Guerin with whom he has worked on the last New Zealand, UK and two federal Australian campaigns.

Bill Muirhead, second from left, watches on as Britain's King Charles III is presented with a maquette of Queen Elizabeth II by the Governor of South Australia Frances Adamson, Rod Bunten, serving agent General of South Australia David Ridgway and Peter Flavel at Buckingham Palace in 2022.
Bill Muirhead, second from left, watches on as Britain's King Charles III is presented with a maquette of Queen Elizabeth II by the Governor of South Australia Frances Adamson, Rod Bunten, serving agent General of South Australia David Ridgway and Peter Flavel at Buckingham Palace in 2022. Credit: Aaron Chown/AP

Senior Liberal Mr Creighton also worked on those campaigns including as Director of Communication for Coalition Campaign Headquarters in 2019, when Scott Morrison lost to Anthony Albanese.

Mr Creighton, 31, from country Queensland worked for former Liberal MP Trevor Evans and served as an adviser to former Attorney-General Michaelia Cash.

Since the Coalition’s loss in Australia, he has been living and working in the UK for the last 18 months as a consultant.

One former Liberal staffer who works in the UK said Mr Creighton was a “good operator” with experience working across both wings of the party.

“He has a good understanding of the media and how campaigns work, he’s the genuine all-rounder,” the Liberal said.

Comments

Latest Edition

The front page of The Nightly for 23-07-2024

Latest Edition

Edition Edition 23 July 202423 July 2024

Australia’s top cyber cop lashes big tech firms for profiting from alarming scourge amid calls for further action on online image abuse.