The final lead up to the national election gives the citizens of the country the unique pleasure of being able to see politicians dressed in formal attire standing in the rain, feigning smiles and waving at all the cars driving by. It’s unclear whether such seemingly desperate measures have any sway over the location of the ticks on election day, but they are entertaining nonetheless.
Traditionally, these last-ditch efforts by political parties have been limited to doing impersonations of brand mascots on street corners, but in a digitised world they are becoming more sophisticated. These days, politicians recognise that political messages have the capacity to reach a wider audience if they are delivered online. And for this reason many the nation’s parties have taken to the internet to consolidate their street-based efforts.
National kicked off its last-minute campaign push by launching a 15-second follow-on TVC that shared a series of headlines that pointed to some of the shortcomings of the party’s competitors.
Conveniently, the TVC left out a few of the following headlines: ‘National Party sued over Eminem copyright infringement’, ‘Key not sure if US spy agency has role here’, and ‘Key: Snowden "may well be right’.
The party is also combining a traditional promotional push with the online channel by recording brief clips of the bus tour John Key is currently taking across the country.
The cult of personality might elude David Cunliffe, but Labour has a secret weapon in its arsenal: Tamati Coffey. In a recently published YouTube clip the former TV personality shares his reasons for voting Labour this year, and tries to incite the Kiwi public to vote for the red team. And with over 25,000 views at the time of writing, it’s quite evident that Coffey still has quite a few fans out there.
Labour’s other rising star, Jacinda Ardern, who recently took to Tinder to increase the spread of her political messages, has been publishing a consistent stream of tweets on from her Twitter account.
Took about 30 minutes to walk 5 metres with David Cunliffe on campus today! Great questions and soo many selfies. pic.twitter.com/7SiDlRUG51— Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern) September 17, 2014
Door knocking....Auckland Central style. http://t.co/zpqh8p2SAg— Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern) September 15, 2014
The habit of politicians to share messages from the campaign trail is by no means unique to Ardern, but it is quite humorous when looked at from the perspective of the average denizen. At the end of the day, politicians are just doing their jobs, and this is really akin to a member of the accounts team sharing selfies with spreadsheets in the background and proclaiming, ‘Wow, I entered so many digits today’.
Adern's boss, David Cunliffe, has been very active on YouTube, releasing three videos over the course of the last day. These clips range from shout outs to the standardistas to asking volunteers to assist the party in getting voters to the polls.
Over the last few weeks, the Green Party has been releasing a series of 20-second videos that share some of the party’s key policies with viewers. The most recent of these clips published on 4 September featured Green Co-leader Metiria Turei speaking about its policy to combat child poverty.
This message has been further consolidated by the Greens’ opening broadcast, which places major emphasis on the party’s commitment to improving the situation for the poorer members of society as well as introducing measures to ensure a cleaner environment.
On Twitter Russell Norman has also shared pictures from the campaign trail, as well as few others of him making coffee and standing next to Jordan Luck, the musician who unfortunately resurrected Rebecca Black’s Friday for a recent Vodafone campaign.
Since its ‘Fuck John Key’ video, Internet-Mana has toned things down a bit by sharing a closing address from the party’s co-leaders Hone Harawira and Laila Harre, in which the pair deliver a relatively sombre message on what they hope to achieve.
In recent weeks, the party has also launched its own YouTube-based news channel called ‘Not the six o’clock news’, which features Laila Harre delivering topical message with a partisan leaning.
Any discussion of pre-election campaigning would be incomplete without including a reference to ‘The Moment of Truth,’ which saw Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Glen Greenwald deliver their insights on mass surveillance in New Zealand. And while much of the discussion was dominated by the general revile that many people feel for Kim Dotcom, what the trio had to say was very relevant to a democracy in an increasingly digitised world.
At a recent minority party debate, Maori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell claimed that the Maori Party was struggling with a branding problem in the sense that many Kiwis see the party as exclusively relevant to people of Maori ethnicity. He argued that the party’s policies were in fact also relevant to other ethnicities and that the aim was to create a fairer society for all New Zealanders.
Despite the goal to attract support from a broader range of the population, the party’s final push has again targeted the main support group in three messages that are specifically relevant to the Maori community.
In addition to its online efforts, the Maori Party has also released a campaign poster that features 2014 New Zealander of the year Lance O’Sullivan endorsing the party.
The most sensational TVC released this year came from Act in the shape of David Seymour’s YouTube clip for the Epsom electorate.
Recently, the party’s leader Jamie Whyte seemingly used the same editorial team to shoot a video that features a range of awkward scenes, one of which might actually have been filmed in the mythical home of the Teletubbies.
For its final promotional push, Act has combined humour with serious messaging by first releasing a Jamie Whyte blooper reel and then an Act press conference. At the time of writing, the blooper reel had been watched almost 2,000 times while the more serious clip was yet to reach 20 views.
In his campaign diary for MetroMagazine, Steve Braunias recently said that based on the results, Colin Craig “He has fought the best campaign of anybody in Election 2014”.
He backed this statement by listing a few facts:
“He has! Look at the figures. In July, the party was polling 2 per cent. A month ago it was 3.2 per cent. Last week it was 4.7. And tonight TV3 brings the results of a new poll which Steve Braunias’ Campaign Diary: Day 12 is embargoed from revealing until 6pm, but put it this way – Steve Braunias’ Campaign Diary: Day 12 was standing next to Craig this morning when his press secretary, Rachel MacGregor, told him the news, and the leader said, verbatim, ‘Wow.’”
Over the last few weeks, Craig has taken some time off suing the nation’s satirists to campaign throughout the nation and he also twice posted the Conservative Party opening address to his personal YouTube channel.
And as his campaign comes to a close, we can look back fondly to his interview with David Farrier, in which the quirky journalist quizzed the politician on the monochromatic death stare that was used in his campaign posters. Funnily enough, such criticisms of the posters eventually led to Colin Craig releasing a second batch of posters, which featured a slightly less ominous death stare.
NZ First is keeping its message delivery strategy old school by sending the king of one liners Winston Peters to as many places as possible to share the party's gospel. The events section of the New Zealand First website functions largely as a calendar that provides a schedule of where Peters will next be speaking.
And while the party's preference to campaign in the real world has made it relatively inactive on YouTube, this hasn't stopped Peters from sharing his pearls on Twitter.
.@rnzgallerychris Neither blue or red is my favourite colour. I'd paint them both black with a white stripe and give them much more vroom!— Winston Peters (@winstonpeters) September 19, 2014