Strong similarities between National and Labour’s short ads

Labour Party election advertising

By Nikki Preston, NZ Herald 14 September 2020

The launch of both Labour and National’s “incredibly dull and safe” short online ads over the weekend are similar in style and are selling similar messages, according to marketing and political experts.

Labour released its campaign ad featuring Jacinda Ardern sporting a red jacket in Premier House with the slogan Stick Together and Let’s Keep moving.

National leader Judith Collins launched an ad in response starting by saying “Let me be straight with you” and promoting her team to rebuild communities and futures.

They both speak directly to the camera and the ads contain little imagery.

Marketing expert and Quantum Jump chief executive Ben Goodale said both ads were “incredibly dull and safe” and he didn’t think any ad executives would be winning awards for them.

“I don’t think you could call either of them creatively interesting or significantly engaging … They are not interesting adverts which are going to do anything more than just be watched and forgotten,” he said.

“They are both reliant on the total personality approach – the leader is the party kind of thing. That presidential style of campaigning.”

Goodale liked the fact that Ardern was seated behind a desk to show she was working hard, but thought National was sending a strong statement by including a photo of the team.

“They both play to their strengths – they are both strong, confident leaders,” he said.

“Jacinda particularly with her success of Covid playing to that sense of security with her.”

University of Waikato political science lecturer Dr Justin Phillips said National’s ads had taken a slightly different approach to when it was in government and had ditched using a comparison between them and Labour used to show they were the stronger party.

“There is no negativity at all. It is all about what National can offer.”

He said another clear message from National was that it had a team and that Labour did not.

“In essence it is less of Colins vs Ardern and the implication that it is National and its team vs Ardern.”

He said Labour was obviously sticking with what works by using Ardern’s strong communication which New Zealanders were used to from her over the past few months.

However the messages from both leaders were the same and were in essence talking about jobs, jobs, jobs. The parties had also reverted to traditional political advertising rather than the fancy imagery used in the past few election campaigns.

“I wouldn’t say they were tremendously different. That’s definitely the thing that came across to me – they are talking about the same things, they are outlining how to rebuild the economy and working together so forth.”

AUT associate professor of marketing Mike Lee told Newstalk ZB Jacinda was very clearly Labour’s star player so the party appeared to be just selling her, while National was selling its team.

Lee said having Ardern sitting at a desk signalled to people that she was already their doing the job and supported the “Let’s keep moving” tagline.

He said National’s choice of having Collins in front of a blue background was an interesting choice and differed from previous campaigns where they would have businesses or communities they were aligning themselves with.

He also questioned if National’s mention of a “greener smarter future” for the first time was a subtle signal that it was willing to work with the Green Party.