COMMENT, Business Desk, 10 August 2023.
Millions of what’s raised for this year’s election campaign will go to professional ad agencies advising and booking ads for political parties. Here’s who’s in the mix this year.
Labour has confirmed it will again use the same trio of ad agencies this election, despite a change in leadership. Augusto, Hunch and Together are working on the incumbent party’s electoral ads, having worked on the previous campaign at a cost of $1.67 million, according to electoral expense returns. This includes agency fees and what was paid to media agency Together to pay media organisations for ad space. Augusto – which has offices in Auckland and New York – has been with the party since 2017, when it created Labour’s campaign just two weeks after Jacinda Ardern took over as leader seven weeks before the general election. Augusto was paid $201,714 for the 2017 campaign, while the agency which had worked under Andrew Little’s leadership, Moss Group, was paid $255,000. Campaign chair Rob Salmond said, “We have good relationships with our agencies, and they are excellent partners”.
Last election, the National party used BC&F Dentsu (which is now known as Dentsu NZ), but it is understood the agency won’t have a role this year. It paid over $532,000 to the global agency, including its media-buying subsidiary Carat in 2020. National party campaign manager Jo de Joux said the party would not use an ad agency for creative work “as in the previous elections I’ve run”. De Joux has been in multiple National party campaigns but was not involved in 2020. The National party will instead use contractors led by Sue Worthington and Glenn Jameson. Worthington had worked on National party campaigns from 2007 to 2017, including the infamous rowing track, which got the party into legal hot water after a judge found the “Eminem-esque” track was a copyright infringement. Rainmakers has been reappointed for media buying – having been paid more than $477,000 in 2020. Social media agency Topham Guerin is also believed to be involved.
Directed by NZ’s own Taika Waititi, this is very jolly indeed including both a trailer and a full 90-second ad featuring Michael Buble as Asda’s chief quality officer. What Christmas isn’t a bit better with a bit of Buble after all? It’s witty, original and cunningly works in a lot of food cues as Buble tastes, tests and advises. And it’s got pun of the year, “Make this Christmas incredibuble”.
One ad-man insider who worked on political campaigns in the past found the work “barely commercial” but said his agency had a good experience and the work gave it a high profile. Another ad agency source said political parties were demanding clients, in particular, if there were leadership changes in the run-up to the election, which there have been on both sides.
Quantum Jump founder Ben Goodale said there were several reasons why bigger ad agencies tended not to get involved in political campaigns. “If you are a global company, often they don’t want to get involved and offend anyone. “It can also polarise teams. Being asked to work on a political campaign can be quite conflicting; in the past, when I’ve done a weather check on my teams and whether they’d be interested in putting their hands up, I’d found we had such a diverse range of political leanings.” He said the money was never good with political parties, “they are always cash-strapped, very demanding, badly planned. Political parties are not good clients”. “For media planning, you are buying space, so that might not be too bad as there’s a lot of outdoor and radio to buy at market rates. But it’s certainly a challenging creative agency account.”
– Ben Goodale is the CEO of strategic advertising agency Quantum Jump.