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A highly unscientific comparison of Labour and National's tv ads

Tuesday 29th August 2017

Two houses, both alike in dignity: but who has the better campaign ad?


With less than a month to go until the dreaded judgment day, our election is now in what one could safely call full swing - complete with peppy campaign ads from both major parties blaring hopefully from the elephant graveyard that is terrestrial television.

Labour’s is an upbeat affair starring new leader Jacinda Ardern as she Ubers her way to the party’s campaign launch while gazing thoughtfully out the window at our dinky little country. National’s, meanwhile, is a sleek, sexy, and slightly savage affair in which a crew of mechanically efficient joggers sweep the country leaving their opponents in a literal heap.

While neither advert wades into the murky sludge of pesky things like policy or specific information, the ads are still revealing and - as the ‘Eminemesque’ incident showed - can be unexpectedly telling of the true nature of a political party's attitude towards such important matters as, say, music licensing.

So which is better? We wouldn’t dare say. All we can do is identify the strengths (and corresponding weaknesses) of each and award the following prizes accordingly.


Best comprehension of the colour wheel

Screenshot: Youtube/National Party

While the National party has many strengths, sadly it seems a firm grasp of the colour wheel is not one of them and while the team of cheerfully sinister runners in their campaign ad are all outfitted in the same hue, it would be hard to argue convincingly that that hue is blue. Instead what we’re dealing with here is really more of a teal.

Screenshot: Youtube/Labour party

Labour’s ad meanwhile, manages to implement a consistent palette of bright, bold, and oh-so-trendy red that pleasantly evokes images of blood, ‘50s movie stars and sports cars.

Judges note: Teal is a nice colour, but not as nice as royal blue which you'd think they would have used.

Winner: Labour

Best reimbursement scheme

Running is very hard as we all know, and the people in the National ad do a lot of running. You will be happy to know, then, that they were paid handsomely for their efforts in a currency that ensures they will soon have some relief from physical exertion.

While we cannot be sure of how Labour’s extras were compensated, given that portions of it were shot in the chaotic space of the public sphere, it is possible that some of them were not. They do, however, look quite cheerful, so maybe they didn’t mind.

Judges note: Petrol is expensive.

Winner: National

Best illustration of the concept of forward motion

Screenshot: Youtube/Labour party

A tough category for two worthy contenders, both of whom take great care to emphasise the traversing of time and space in an attempt to reach both symbolic and literal destinations. 

National, which of course named its campaign Keep Moving Forward, is heavily focussed on the idea of propulsion here.

Labour, however, takes the cake for two important reasons:

- Jacinda is in a car which everyone knows is a faster and more efficient mode of travel than cross country long distance running.

- She actually ends up reaching her destination (an exciting campaign launch!) unlike National’s ad, which concludes with the tireless robo-joggers heading aimlessly out to sea 400 Blows style.

Screenshot: Youtube/National Party

Judges note: Extra points go to Labour for getting their actual leader and not just a bunch of anonymous runners.

Winner: Labour

Best homage

Screenshot: Youtube/National Party

It’s been a wee while since #ponytailgate but we have not forgotten and neither, it seems, has National. Having decided enough time has passed since that little ‘touching women without their consent’ incident to cheerfully allude to it, the Keep Moving Forward campaign advert features a blink and you’ll miss it homage to John Key’s strange wee fetish with one of the runners reaching out and giving his female peer’s hair what looks like a good natured yank.

Labour’s Let’s Do This features a subtler, but no less powerful, tribute in the form of a wink and a nod to the Supreme logo.

Judges note: A moving throwback to the former leader who just really likes ladies' ponytails.

Winner: National

Best grasp on basic humanity

Utilising their nice, personable new leader to full effect and showing the day to day lives of the kind of normie middle New Zealand types our media love to fetishise, the Labour ad effortlessly reminds us that people generally like nice, calm people who seem friendly and optimistic.

Screenshot: Youtube/National Party

Taking a rather different, but no less canny, tack, National decides to appeal to the cold, calculated side of humanity that prizes above all else the lovely feeling that is winning. Using the running metaphor to demonstrate not only their mechanically efficient progress but also to drag other political parties, National reminds us here that you won’t get far on your very long jog by stopping to help those who are not as good at jogging. Let them eat your dust!

Judges note: National lose points for their basic misunderstanding of the collaborative process of MMP and their overestimation of how endearing fitspo people actually are.

Winner: Labour

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Katie is a journalist at The Wireless.
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