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Sunday, August 27, 2017

National’s terrible, awful ads


It had to happen sooner or later: I had to share terrible ads, and the National Party is the culprit. The video above is one of the two ads they’re currently running on TV, and by far the most often broadcast. The video at the bottom of this post is not an ad, which will take some explanation—assuming one has the energy after watching the ad up top.

The short fact about these ads is that they’re not promotion for a vibrant political party focusing on moving ahead toward the future with excitement. Instead, they promote a party that’s clearly tired, arrogant, and totally out of ideas, content to let the bland and banal take the stage. Their entire campaign is built on “don’t rock the boat”, evidently meaning for both their party and the country, but it’d be nice if they put some oars on the boat at least, rather than to leave it to drift in dead calm waters,

There’s so very much wrong with the ad up top, it’s hard to to know where to begin, so let’s begin with the fact it’s a stale reworking of their ill-fated ad from 2014. That year’s ads featured young, male and female fit people of all ethnicities in a slick racing boat appearing to be in a rowing racing competition, all wearing National Party blue. Most versions of the ad cut to a shot of an ordinary row boat with people wearing jerseys (more like sweatshirts) in colours meant to represent the other parties, with people rowing their oars in both directions. While visually humourous (the first few times one saw it…), the ad became notorious when it was revealed that the party ripped off Eminem when they used a blatant and obvious slight reworking of his “Lose Yourself” song. Eminem rightly sued them for copyright infringement, and the party was roundly mocked when the details of their theft became known.

This year’s ad features “young” fit people in National Party blue all running together. Then they pass older, unfit people representing various parties—the same concept, reworked slightly, as their 2014 ad. The original casting call was for “5 people vaguely representing the two Labour leader [sic], the two Green leaders and Winston Peters.” In the end, the four people appearing are merely in the colours of other parties and bear little resemblance to actual party leaders, making the final ad even more directly comparable to 2014 than had originally been planned.

Aside from being a tired rehash of their 2014 ad, the visuals in the 2017 ad are also awful. The National Party front bench is hardly a group of young, fit people of various races and ethnicities: It’s mostly middle aged white men, and a couple middle aged white women—not a very accurate portrayal of National at all. This ad reminds voters how old, tired, and unrepresentative of modern New Zealand the National Party caucus is. But by far the worst visual was this: Some genius thought it would be a great idea to have one actor pull a younger woman’s ponytail—you know, just like ex-National Party leader John Key did to young girls and young women many times, igniting a major controversy when one waitress objected and the full weight of National’s media allies and cronies came down hard on the woman to try to deflect attention and defend Key. Who on earth said, “Hey, I know! Let’s remind everybody how John Key used to pull the ponytails of young girls and young women! It’ll be great!”

It’s a truly awful ad and an insult to the intelligence of voters.

The music used in the background is bland, boring, and banal. It’s the same music used in their other ad. However, I can’t share that ad because National hasn’t shared it online yet—not on their Facebook Page nor their YouTube Channel. The ad was basically a shorter version of the video below, which was used at the party conference earlier this month. The ad uses images from that video and the same banal and boring “Let’s Get Together” song used in the background of the ad above, but with the singing intact.

There’s no point on commenting on the second ad, since I can’t share it, but you can get the soporific feel of that ad by watching some of the video below. National Party leader Bill English isn’t exactly charismatic, and is pretty boring, really. Why did the ad makers reinforce that with a drowsy look and feel for their ads? Where’s the energy and sense of drive? Where’s the optimistic look toward the future? National’s tagline is the stupefyingly dull, “Delivering for New Zealanders”, but none of these ads focus on what, precisely, they’re planning to deliver, apart, maybe, from a good night’s sleep.

National’s ads so far promote a party that’s clearly tired, arrogant, and totally out of ideas, content to let the bland and banal take the stage. There’s nothing to inspire in their ads, and that could be their undoing.



Update – 28 August: National have shared the 15 second version of their terrible ad from the top of this post, and it actually managed to make a bad thing even worse: The ad is nothing but negative and even keeps the ponytail pulling. Either National is taunting its adversaries, or the people who made the ad don’t like National and wanted to include a secret message to that effect. We can conclude that because putting it in the 30-second ad was bizarre and idiotic, but including it in the 15-second version is utterly inexplicable.



Disclosures: I’m a supporter of the New Zealand Labour Party, but have no position of any kind with them, nor am I in contact with party leaders. All opinions expressed are entirely my own, based on more than 40 years closely following election campaigns. In the interest of even-handedness, at the moment I’m sharing only ads that have been posted to YouTube because they’re easily accessible to anyone. I do not verify that all ads are actually broadcast, and anything I say about them being on TV is based entirely on my own experience; other people’s experiences may be different.

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