After a competitive pitch, Post Creative has been brought on to 'engineer influence' for the Green Party's upcoming election campaign.
"It's a great win," says Post Creative's Nick Baylis. "And it's quite visible. There's a lot of interest in who does the Greens work."
- Check out our profile of the agency here.
While it was generally well-known which agency was doing political work back in the day, there seems to be more reticence to admit those connections these days. But Post Creative is out and proud and Baylis admits that it wouldn't have put its hand up to do the work if it didn't have an affinity with the party's beliefs.
"We're not mercenaries," he says. "We have to believe in the viewpoint to believe in the advertising."
The Greens worked with Special Group in 2008 ('Vote for Me', which won three gold Effie awards) and Running With Scissors in 2011 ('For a richer New Zealand') and Baylis says the party has set a fairly high bar for its election campaigns.
"It's done some brilliant work that's always stood apart from the other parties," he says.
Greens campaign director Ben Youdan agrees and says it has broken the political advertising mould in the last two election campaigns. And it will once again be aiming to come up with something a bit different and communicate its message in "a much more emotive way".
The Greens support base is younger and quite digitally savvy, Baylis says, and, following in the footsteps of the Obama campaign, which was lauded for its use of direct marketing tactics to target 'persuadable' voters, Youdan says the campaign will be a lot more data-driven (it has beefed up its in-house team in this area and invested in some "quite sophisticated data tools").
"Traditional forms are still valuable. They still have their place. We'll still be billboarding. We'll still use TV ads. But people also want to access information on their own terms and in their own way."
As such, he says social media will play a major role in the campaign to help point voters in the direction of its policies.
While the online realm certainly gives voters the opportunity to find out more, plenty don't. And that means short-cuts like advertising (or filters like the media) are still very important.
"[The advertising] is about showing what the party stands for and the success of the campaign will be in how it communicates what we can achieve for New Zealand," Youdan says. And success will also be based on whether it gets more votes than last time and is able to "form a sizeable proportion of a new progressive government".
The Electoral Commission announced its advertising funding for the political parties last week, and The Greens' allotment has been bumped up from $307,000 in 2011 to $401,000 this year.
According to the Herald:
The total being made available at $3.28 million is the same as 2011 but is being shared among 17 parties rather than 11 at the last election.
Criteria for allocating the funding include the number of voters for each party at the last general election and any subsequent by-election, each party's number of MPs, and any other indicators of public support including polls, membership and even "likes" on Facebook although the commission says it gives that little weight.
The funding covers party broadcast advertising but electorate candidates are free to use their own campaign and party funds to pay for their own broadcast advertising.
The election is scheduled for Saturday 20 September and the regulated period starts on 20 June, which is generally seen as the line in the sand when parties take over their comms and it becomes much more about competing for votes (each party can choose when it launches its main creative). Up until then, parties will be fundraising, enrolling and getting party supporters activated. And because there's such a short window for the "headline creative" to run, Baylis says there will be a lot of work leading up to the launch and then it will have to hit the ground running.
Youdan didn't want to discuss the other agencies involved in the pitch, but he says it talked with agencies it had used before as well of some of the bigger shops.
Labour is thought to be working with Running With Scissors on its election campaign, and it has taken over from String Theory and Image Centre. Andy Mitchell didn't return our calls but it has helped Jacinda Ardern with her local poster campaign #askjacinda, which is a riff on the Ask Me Anything series popularised by Reddit.
David Talbot from UMR Research has been named as Labour's campaign director, which is unusual as it's a job usually taken by a senior MP or top party office holder. According to Stuff, The "I'm in" for Labour social media campaign is his brainchild and "aims to seed ideas and messages with Labour's activists to spread among the wider support base and electorate at large".
Just like the last election, National is keeping pretty quiet about its connections, and so are the agencies thought to be involved (when we asked Marianne McKenzie of Rainmakers, she declined to comment). In an email, National campaign manager Jo de Joux said: "Traditionally we don’t comment on the people we partner with for our election advertising campaigns. However, we don’t use an agency and instead work with independent contractors, a number of whom we have worked with before."
Minster of Everything Steven Joyce will once again play the role of campaign chairman.