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Beyond parody

Written By: - Date published: 1:15 pm, September 3rd, 2008 - 55 comments
Categories: election 2008, national - Tags:

National’s new billboard. It’s like when your Dad tries to rap.

55 comments on “Beyond parody”

  1. bill brown 1

    Yes, just wondered up to see it in the flesh (along with two TV news teams – obviously this is where you go for National policy announcements).

    Spend the whole time walking back trying to think of something to say about it, but it speaks for itself really.

    I suppose the only way’s up from here.

  2. Julie 2

    Is it somehow significant that the words are aligned left of centre this time, whether they were hard right last time?

    How about
    Get them into debt,
    not into education.

    And what is National’s Youth Guarantee? are they seriously guaranteeing that no youth will get into trouble under a National Govt? Or do they not know what guarantee means? (And if they fail does that mean we get our money back?)

  3. gobsmacked 3

    They’ve thoughtfully left a nice space below for some real graffiti. I give it 24 hours max.

    “Not into power”?

  4. Guarantee certainly is a strong word. Not that I would wish that such an approach be unsuccessful, but they are setting a high-bar to clear here – such language at face value is simply incredulous.

  5. Ben R 5

    Better than the previous billboard. Clearer message & some alliteration to make it more memorable.

  6. I like how the area beneath ‘National’s youth guarantee’ is empty, just like that particular policy.

  7. i think that artistically they’re a mess – you’ve got three different lines of text with three different colours, three sizes, and two fonts. the background colour changes too behind the words.. all of which makes it hard to read.

  8. Lew 8

    Heh, a cow-orker of mine saw it and thought it WAS a parody.

    There’s a tricky little dog-whistle in there about training – going along with the boot camp idea. It’s not `Get them into education’.


  9. Paul Williams 9

    I’ve commented on this over at Public Address.

    This is quite laughable. The limited policy Key announced on Breakfast this AM largely replicates existing policies. What’s unbelievable about this is that Labour’s done a great job at improving youth transitions through various initiatives including changes to TOPs, the implementation of Modern Apprenticeships, Gateway and massive increases and improvements to Industry Training. Plus of course, NCEA. All the numbers on NZ education show improvements in absolute and relative terms.

    English was looking like he’d come up with a meaningful educational alternative to the current government’s; his move was unfortunate and their subsequent position on tertiary education has been inconsistent, ridiculous and simplistic… a lot like this billboard.

  10. randal 10

    extra extra read all about it…”Mathew Hooton is hysterical and has a mental complaint”…George Liggins QC this morning on nine to noon

    [lprent: I’ve always thought so… but how about a link. It should be available by now.]

  11. It’s Classic Crosby-Textor. Just compare it to the 2005 Uk Conservative Party billboards.

    Parole will be next. Then racism.

  12. Ben R 12

    “All the numbers on NZ education show improvements in absolute and relative terms.”

    What about reading standards?

    “Professor Nicholson, who co-heads Massey’s Centre of Excellence for Research on Children’s Literacy, advocates teaching how to sound out words using phonics, which has been largely dropped by the New Zealand education system in favour of a “whole language’ approach.

    He says that approach is failing Maori children particularly because phonics is well-suited to learning to read Te Reo and would provide an easy transition to English.

    New Zealand was first in the world for reading achievement in 1970, dropped to 13th in 2001 and was ranked 24th out of 40 countries and five Canadian states by the latest (2006) Progress in International Reading Literacy Study statistics for 10-year-olds.”


  13. Dom 13

    Get them into military training
    And then we’ll send them to Iraq. Or Iran. Or whatever war the US decides to start next.

  14. Oh, this is true yukkiness.

  15. Lew 15

    Ben R: The whole language/phonics debate in language acquisition is a live debate upon which reasonable and properly-qualified people can and frequently do differ. It’s not something you can obviate by citing one expert in a field.

    I’m not disputing your data; just that it’s not an open-and-shut case as your comment implies.

    Not that it’s anything to do with the billboard.


  16. Ben R 16

    “I’m not disputing your data; just that it’s not an open-and-shut case as your comment implies.

    Not that it’s anything to do with the billboard.”

    Indeed, it was in response to the claim that all the numbers show we’re improving in absolute & relative terms (maybe we are, but I’d like to see a link with the evidence).

  17. Jasper 17

    And the apostrophe is in the wrong place..

    National is Youth Guarantee?

    So if we vote national we guarantee our youth? Woohoo, I’ll keep being 22 thanks.

    Typical – want higher education standards, yet are barely educated themselves.

  18. Tim 18

    I’m with gobsmacked. I predict that it will become a badge of honour to put a bomb or tag on one of those billboards.

    A perfect opportunity for graffiti.

    Awesome, I can’t wait!

  19. Lew 19

    Jasper: The apostrophe is fine. National’s == belonging to National.

    Glass houses, stones, etc regarding your last comment – epic fail.


  20. mondograss 20

    I have a lot of respect for Prof Nicholson having studied under him, but there’s nothing in the curriculum etc that precludes a school from using phonics. I don’t believe his comments should be directed towards government policy, but more towards educators in general to consider wider approaches to literacy education. In particular, to consider using a mix of approaches according to the needs of the children.

    The govt has done a good job preventing the curriculum from becoming too rigid and encouraging schools to find methods that work for them.

  21. Rocket Boy 21

    Ben R – The best thing that can be done for reading standards is for parents to take time to read to their children.

    Now that would be a much better billboard and yes it would probably help ‘Youth’ to get into training.

    I wonder what ‘Youth’ think of this billboard, is there anyone under 20 who reads this blog?

  22. yl 22

    Rocket Boy,

    “Ben R – The best thing that can be done for reading standards is for parents to take time to read to their children.”

    i agree one hundred percent, the biggest impact on a child’s success at school is the role that the parent chooses to play.

    The students that achieve well at school, have parents that are involved with them, the school, and their learning.

    More work needs to be done building relationships with parents and teachers, as is done in early childhood.

    Although Labour have not got it completely right yet, the answer is not to establish national education standards and then hold teachers and students accountable to them,

  23. Dom 23

    Get ‘them’ into training…it’s what some old smelly guy at a bus stop might rant at me while we’re both waiting for the 7:10am…

    I don’t understand how this scheme works. If you stay in school, do you get money?

    Who will be administering this? WINZ? How will National cut the public service if they give them more to do?

  24. mondograss 24

    Get them into the Army
    And into Iraq

  25. Paul Williams 25

    Ben R, what Lew said – I’m really reluctant to get into a phonics v whole language discussion, not least of all because I’m not nearly qualified to do so.

    However, regarding this question/statement:

    Indeed, it was in response to the claim that all the numbers show we’re improving in absolute & relative terms (maybe we are, but I’d like to see a link with the evidence).

    My earlier comment, about absolute and relative improvements, is backed-up by our performance in a number of international studies which show, for instance, that reading literacy for Year 5 students which is “better than the international average”, and that NZ is continuing “its high performance in reading literacy at the senior secondary level, with only two out of thirty OECD countries achieving significantly higher mean scores than New Zealand.”

    These quotes are taken from the various reports available online at the education counts site, here: http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/indicators/education_and_learning_outcomes

    It just is not true that NZ education standards are low or are slipping; they’re high and are improving.

  26. michael 26

    Jasper, you ignoramus. Clearly you’ll benefit from the improvement National will offer you in terms of your education.

    I imagine that the National team are hoping some dole-bludging vandal DOES tag their billboard. It’ll prove the point of the staggering rise in youth crime, and generate a free media opportunity that flies under the EFA.

  27. randal 27

    lprent…sorry I dont know about this link stuff and it was Peter williams QC who said it.
    Have no idea where I go t the george liggins bit… I was in a hurry this morning. It is probably availlable on replay radio. anyway Randals sister saw Hooton on tv3 last week and he was beside himself and even the old biddies on snakeoil radio (talkback)are beginning to complain about how nasty the nats are getting.

  28. monkey-boy 28

    I think that the fact that both billboards have gone right over your heads is proof that they aren’t aimed at you, and are not designed to appeal to your concerns. However, to a wavering old-skool (sorry) Labour-voter, they speak volumes, and this is who they are targeting. Your responses suggest an out-of-touchness with ‘middle-NZ’ which of course is a big part of Labour’s (correctly place apostrophe) problems as they cruise into the election, hell-bent on erecting a papier-mache statue to Helen’s legacy in the form of the ETS. That’ a lot of hyphens.

  29. bill brown 29

    extra extra read all about it ‘Mathew Hooton is hysterical and has a mental complaint’ George Liggins QC this morning on nine to noon

    Actually in:

    RNZ NTN:
    NZ First Funding and SFO Investigation
    Peter Williams, QC, is the lawyer acting for Winston Peters. He says his client is the subject of an hysterical witchhunt.

    3:34 and 8:26 in

  30. Stephen 30

    michael, there might be some clever vandals out there, which could be funny, but I suspect they’d be politically motivated, rather than just some pissed off young taggers…

  31. Dom 31

    Further irony – the ‘youth’ that is implied to have tagged the billboard can at least spell the words ‘not’, ‘into’ and ‘trouble’ and even added a full stop at the end of the phrase. I would question how much training this young person needs.

  32. Wondering 32

    So when are Labour going to release some new policies?

  33. Paul Williams 33

    Your responses suggest an out-of-touchness with ‘middle-NZ’ which of course is a big part of Labour’s (correctly place apostrophe) problems

    Can you be more specific? Do you mean that the criticisms of National’s billboards – that they promise unquantified tax cuts as a solution to emmigration and the continuation of existing education policy – are missing the point? If so, I assume that you genuinely believe tax cuts will stop people heading offshore? Bizarre. I wonder if it’s us or you that’s out-of-touch?

  34. Jasper 34

    Shall we get into semantics and claim that National is a collective? So seeing as National is a party, made up of many members, it’s therefore a “plural” ownership of the Youth Guarantee.

    So therefore, Nationals’ would be more accurate, as National’s implies only one individuals guarantee.

  35. Jasper 35

    Actually, I stand corrected Lew et al. My apologies.

  36. randal 36

    williams also said that it is a fundamental principle of our system of justice that if you allege a crime then you must prove it. and randal see hooton on tv and listen to hooton on the wirless and read his bi weeekly column in the sst and other forums and sources and williams is right. hooton is hystrerical leading the infantilised media on a folies du tout. more a bit like a dance macabre but yu get the picture. a;lso hands up who saw garner in a blue and white check shirt with ared tie.. covering all bases and the stars ‘n stripes an all. go dunk.

  37. monkey boy 37

    Paul S59, EFA, ETS, retrospective validation, pledge card overspend, rising crime (perceived) rising mortgages, fuel costs, continued ‘exodus’ overseas, PM’s ethical compromises over Winston, that apalling rendition of ‘The Gambler’ at the LP conference, mike Willliams’ memory lapses, government by oligarchy, Cullen and his attitude to taxation, desire to replace SFO, preoccupation with EB, ramming unpopular legislation through with urgency foreshore and seabed, – etc.

  38. Lew 38

    Wondering: They’re releasing a whole lot right now, under urgency!


  39. Paul Williams 39

    monkey boy, I understand these are issues that concern you, albeit I’d not agree with your characterisation of at least half of them, but I’m none the wiser as to what Key would do differently?

    And on the issue of honesty, Key’s equivocations on various issues doesn’t satisfy me. Nor does his failure to release policy assuage my fear he’s got at least two sets of plans, only one of which is public.

    And by the way the s.59 amendment was a Green Party proposal that both National and Labour ultimately supported.

  40. Felix 40

    monkey boy you’ve successfully identified the issues that matter to bloggers who support the Act Party. Nice work.

  41. Jeeves 41

    Shit. I am a tory and find this simply embarassing. Fire the fucking ad agency. Isn’t Steven Joyce meant to be organising the campaign? He is brighter than this. ACT can have my vote if National is going to treat the public so patronisingly with its faux-graffiti. Yurk.

  42. Felix 42

    As for the faux-graffiti, who tags with a brush? In comic-sans?

  43. Principessa 43

    Catching the bus to town this avo I spotted the aeroplane one, except you couldn’t make out the aeroplane pattern at all because the sun was shining on it so it just looked like a light blue (Act party blue???) billboard.

  44. monkey boy 44

    Paul – my point is it doesn’t matter what Key would or would not do differently, the purpose of the billboard is not to engender a catch-all summary of the political party’s policies, it is a dog-whistle to the softer underbelly who feel threatened and disenfranchised. i really don;t want to get into another nit-picking session about the s59, I know the history, right back to the moment Clark announced her own intention on the morning after Coral Burrow’s murder that ‘smackishe would like to outlaw smacking, followed by her ‘against human nature’ statement, and the use of the Party whip to ensure the s.59 amendment would be voted in, not put to a conscience vote. All of which again, refer back to the out-of-touchness of a party run by ivory-tower academics, who clearly beleive that saying something makes it so, when, in ‘ther real world’ it don’t. That is the summary of the dogwhistle to shich I referred, and yes, it obviously went over your heads.
    You are not taking National’s Billboards seriously, because you are blinded by having it your own way for so long.

  45. Principessa 46

    Just spotted an Air NZ ad on nzherald.co.nz that looks like the same blue too.

  46. T-Rex 47

    “It’s like when your Dad tries to rap.”

    Or like when your party leader says “dude” in an assembly hall.

    My first impulse is that this is fantastic, one of the lamest branding efforts I’ve seen in a long time (ok, maybe since Labours maildrop following the budget) but on the other side of the coin I get a sharp pang of uncertainty every time I hear someone say “The NZ public is too smart to fall for this”.

    Is this the same NZ public that bought into the housing boom hook, line, and sinker? Because that was pretty dumb, and it’s hardly an example in isolation.

  47. What is wrong with National wanting to get young people into training?

  48. Principessa 49

    Labour wants to get young people into training i.e modern apprenticeships.

    National wants to get young people into boot camp style training.

  49. gobsmacked 50

    It’s not the promise of training that is bad. It’s the breathtaking dishonesty of it.

    Here are John Key’s words, launching the billboard today:

    “The policy will provide a universal educational entitlement for all 16- and 17-year-olds. It will allow them to access, free of charge, a programme of educational study towards school-level qualifications at approved institutions.

    “This entitlement will be on top of, not instead of, the education entitlements they have now.

    (my italics)

    In other words, a good old social democratic spend-up. A very expensive one. While promising to rein in government spending.

    Either National are going to outspend Labour or they are lying. Take your pick.

  50. Lew 51

    Lee: “the purpose of the billboard is not to engender a catch-all summary of the political party’s policies, it is a dog-whistle to the softer underbelly who feel threatened and disenfranchised.”

    I’m 100% with you here.

    Not so sure about the remainder – looks like a lapse into feeling threatened and disenfranchised on false grounds.


  51. Paul Williams 52

    Again, what Lew said plus

    it is a dog-whistle to the softer underbelly who feel threatened and disenfranchised.

    Yeah, I agree and if they had some policy the same issues, or any issues really, I’d be less concerned by it but the fact is National are hoping to win government without telling us what they’d do. Tragically, as redlogix said at KBB a while back, much of the media are either unwilling on unable to challenge him.

    I don’t disagree that this campaign strategy might work to win the election, but is it a strategy that gives you insight into what they’ll then do?

  52. Paul Williams 53

    In other words, a good old social democratic spend-up. A very expensive one. While promising to rein in government spending.

    I doubt it’ll have either a significant impact or cost much; I suspect the take-up will be low frankly and/or it’ll displace existing pathways. This is policy clutter, not clarity.

    That said, the economic benefit from getting school-leavers to do additional years of training is significant; an Australian study, in 2005, estimated that by progressively increasing retention rates you can achieve net increases in GNP.

    There’s always all sorts of assumptions in this kind of analysis, econometric general equilibrium modeling, but you can play around with these and get different result. The underlying logic is sound. Why Key’s anouncement is clutter however, is because many of these pathways are already in place.

    In 2007, 4.9% of all school leavers left school with little or no formal attainment. This represents a 71% decrease from 2001, when the percentage of all school leavers who left school with little or no formal attainment was 17.0%.

    That quote’s from here: http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/indicators/indicator_page/schooling/753

    There’s lots of reasons for this, both to do government initiatives (NCEA, Modern Apprenticeships, Gateway et al) but also increased demand for labour.

  53. Phil 54

    “It’s like when your Dad tries to rap”

    No-ones yet mentiond that d4j has a ghetto-esque vibe…

  54. the boss 55


    This is a great billboard. Who did it?, really cool.

    About time someone did something good that works.

    What labour doing?

    I don’t Vote by the way before people give me the bash bro.

    The Boss

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