Large-scale issue-advertising by third parties appears to be increasing in Australia. This article analyses recent official data on political expenditure, and situates such campaigning in historical perspective with case studies of the bank nationalisation, Medibank, WorkChoices and mining tax campaigns. The success of the latter two campaigns illustrates the potential for well-resourced sectors to employ what has traditionally been seen as an “outsider” tactic. The various drivers of the phenomenon are discussed, including evolving trends in political engagement and the media, and fluctuations in perceptions of governmental strength or weakness. The most distinctly Australian aspect of the phenomenon is the tendency in recent decades for governments and third parties to engage in a “call-and-response” cycle of issue-advertising.