Wednesday, October 26, 2011

First campaign ads

New Zealand’s election season is officially underway, with party TV commercials hitting the airwaves today. The video above is the New Zealand Labour Party’s short ad on a Capital Gains Tax. It’s clear what it’s about and what the policy is.

The Labour ad below is more general, and longer, but it, too, hits the party’s main theme of “no asset sales”, combined with policies that will make that unnecessary. While such a brief ad can’t delve deeply into policy details, it nevertheless focuses on policy differences as compared to the current government.

This ad says the election is not a popularity contest, which is a risky, but interesting, tactic: National’s John Key has been polling far ahead of Labour’s Phil Goff, though National’s recent missteps and gaffes may affect that. When there’s a potential negative, there are two advertising tactics: Ignore it or take it head on. This ad takes the latter approach, and judging by Key’s comment today about Goff’s photo not being on Labour’s election hoardings, this tactic seems to have rattled Key and National. Maybe it’s because National’s recent mistakes have undermined Key’s popularity.

And finally, the ad below is the first from the conservative New Zealand National Party (also the only one available on YouTube as I prepared this post). While it hits National’s theme of “building a brighter future”, it’s very different from Labour’s ads in that it promotes no policies—or anything even remotely specific. Instead, it claims recovery is around the corner and declares there are differences between Labour and National without providing any evidence of either. The visual at first seems clever—stop and go signs—but while it reinforces the party narrative, there’s nothing specific to back it up (there are other problems with the visuals that I won’t bother going into).

My guess is that this ad is intended to reinforce support from voters who are already National supporters or who already lean toward them, because it offers no reason for anyone else to vote for the party other than “trust us, we’re right. It’ll get better eventually”. Maybe their next ad will be more detailed.

The first Labour ad is, in my opinion, the best of the three. If National’s ad was for soap or auto insurance, it might be okay, but as a political ad, it misses the mark for precisely the reason Labour’s ads are better: Specific policy. Labour’s ads talk about policy, National’s ad doesn’t. The longer ad with Phil Goff, while apparently setting the campaign tone like National’s ad, still uses specifics.

There will probably be different ads as the campaign season goes on, and I may comment on those, too. But Labour wins this first matchup.


Anonymous said...


Arthur Schenck said...

Um, HELLO?! The link you provided, Anonymous, is the last of the videos I posted. And the worst. Your point is?