The Internet Party, “New Zealand’s newest, most awesome political party”, has landed with a bit of a thud on the political landscape, with a controversial founder/funder, a partnership deal with the Mana party and the announcement of Laila Harré as leader (and the ensuing leadership photo, which, according to Twitter, looks a lot like a cast photo from either The Almighty Johnsons, Star Trek or Outrageous Fortune). So how is it planning to woo the voters? We asked brand manager Andy Pickering a few questions.
How would you describe the Internet Party brand?
A fresh new voice in politics. With a cool purple logo that features an unexpected full stop used in a surprising way. We’re typographically definitive. The Internet Party represents the internet generation. Everything that is important to young people today—education, family, work opportunities, internet privacy and freedom, the environment, digital culture, that’s what we represent. In the same way that the internet is a disruptive force of change, the Internet Party is a disruptive force in politics. The analogy is that the existing political parties are legacy systems, rooted in the past. Slow moving, resistant to change, unable to adapt to create new opportunities. The Internet Party is a sleek, modern, fast start-up that seeks to leverage the disruptive power of the internet to improve the systems of government, education, work, health, entertainment, life. We understand technology and will apply our skills to leverage a tech/data/science-based approach to improve the quality of life for all New Zealanders. Why can’t we apply tech industry-style improvement cycles to government? We’re a small start-up with big dreams and the right talent and resources to change the game. Politics as usual is ripe for disruption. That’s what we’re all about. Democracy 2.0.
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What are you hoping to tell the public through your brand messages?
Our first brand messages were designed to make it clear that we are are a serious political party that looks forward to contesting the election in September and achieving a strong result [Poll results for the Mana Party, Internet Party and Internet-Mana Party totalled 1.4 percent in a recent Herald Digi-Poll survey]. Certain sections of the media have tried to paint the Internet Party in a negative light, i.e: ‘Kim Dotcom’s political plaything’, ‘a one issue party with no policies’ or that we exist to ‘further Kim Dotcom’s fight against extradition’. None of this is true, of course. The reality is that we are a fully fledged political party with a leader, a policy platform, a large pool of members, a policy team, a social media team, a campaign team, a marketing team and 16 great candidates who will be announced next week. When the Internet Party launched earlier this year, we published our Action Agenda immediately, which is our high level policy overview. Each item in the Action Agenda is then fleshed out with a full policy draft. We’ve been releasing one new policy draft per week. You can see these on our website as they are released and we’re expanding the Action Agenda with additional policies very soon. As we release each policy we do a mini-brand campaign around each policy. So for example, the ‘Smile for the GCSB’ posters related to our policy on Privacy and Internet Freedom.
There is an expectation that the Internet Party will be innovative. How are you doing that in terms your online and outdoor advertising and digital activity?
We’re innovative in the sense that we’re using the internet and various digital tools to get our message across, but it’s not limited to advertising. Advertising is one of the things that we do, but it’s more about using these tools to engage with our members in a democratic and transparent fashion. Digital democracy. We are the first political party in New Zealand to use an app, and we used the app [get it via the App Store or Google Play] and our website to allow members to sign up over the internet including being able to sign their signature digitally and pay their membership fee by Bitcoin. On the day we launched these we gained the 500 financial members required to register a political party in New Zealand in just seven hours. Our website now has a policy forum and a policy incubator where party members are able to suggest and discuss policy with fellow members and our policy wonks. As we release a new policy draft it is posted on the website and then members with expertise in that particular policy area are encouraged to suggest improvements, or things we’ve missed. Our policy team then absorb this information to improve the policy further before final release. Our Policy Incubator runs on a platform called Loomio, a tech start-up from Wellington. Hundreds of our members use our policy incubator every day. This is where members can suggest new policy areas and other members can then agree or disagree. It’s an effective way to see what percentage of our members support any given idea. We think this is how politics should be done and it’s an exciting process to be involved with.
As the campaign period begins you’ll see more innovation across all our platforms. Our messages are released over multiple channels at the same time. So with the ‘Smile for the GCSB’ street posters, they included the #TakeBackPrivacy hashtag. We did a social media campaign using the same imagery and # across Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, and online advertising on various news websites. So far our messages have promoted the ideas that the Internet Party supports. Rather than the usual approach of having a smiling politician promising a better future, we focus each mini-campaign to a specific policy idea, and use our distinctive colour purple to instantly signal that this is an Internet Party message, and you should pay attention [it is also attempting to lure the internet generation out with the Party Party tour, which features a range of Kiwi musicians].
Do you have an agency working on your campaigns?
Everything is done in-house. The Internet Party campaign team (engine room) now consists of around twenty five people. Departments include marketing, brand, data, social, production (web, design, film), youth strategy, events, volunteers, candidates and media. All departments are run by experienced professionals with expertise in their chosen fields. We’ve all come together quite quickly and are looking forward to making a big impact. The disruption engine is now in place and we’re about to pull the trigger.
Who worked on the website? And how has traffic been to your site?
Traffic is good, both globally and locally. Again, it’s all done in house. We have some talented designers and developers who work on the website. They are kept very busy as the website continues to evolve from week to week as we undertake a new project, complete and then begin a new one.