'Me2' cartoon by Mark Knight, the Herald Sun, 2007

Description

This is a cartoon by Mark Knight showing Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd wearing a t-shirt with the catchphrase 'Me 2'. A character in the corner of the cartoon asks, 'What happened to Kevin 07'.

Educational value

The electoral contest between John Howard and Kevin Rudd in 2007 invited comparison of the two men. Cartoonists suggested that the similarities between the two leaders were greater than they first appeared to be. This became intensified when Rudd began to mirror many of the Howard Government policies, especially in the areas of handling the economy and the desire to be seen as economically conservative.

Embracing non-traditional media from YouTube to t-shirts was a key strategy in the Labor Party's 2007 election campaign. They deployed blogs, used behavioural targeting on the internet, ads on mobile phones and a raft of alternative media such as stickers and T-shirts to get their message across to voters in marginal seats. A website was created to sell 40,000 Kevin07 t-shirts and generated the 'wear your shirt' viral sub-campaign. The strength of the campaign was such that the digital campaign became symbolic of the difference between the parties - the 'future' and the 'past'.

Political cartoons have a long history in Australia and remain one of the most popular forms of political commentary. Although caricatures and satirical illustrations appeared in some of Australia's earliest newspapers, it was not until the 1830s that they became a frequent and respectable feature of print media. Publications such as the Melbourne Punch, the Sydney Punch and the Bulletin featured both caricatures and cartoons, and it was through these publications that political cartoons became a popular element of the Australian press.

Mark Knight is the editorial cartoonist for the Herald Sun and Sunday Herald Sun. He has previously worked for the Australian Financial Review and the Melbourne Herald.

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