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Bill’s latest rort

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, October 29th, 2009 - 77 comments
Categories: bill english, corruption, Media - Tags:

I hadn’t seen the Bill English ad until now. I guess I had kind of assumed it couldn’t be that bad – surely it would be a promo for the show with a few stock clips of English because he’ll be appearing. Nope:

It’s just an ad for English. In fact, I’ve got no idea what the show will actually be – presumably just more unbalanced and unanswered political rhetoric from English.

TVNZ claims there was no intention to create a political ad for English “It’s a creative idea not a political idea.” Sorry, that doesn’t wash. Maybe TVNZ’s creatives are idiots who didn’t understand they were giving a million dollars in free political promotion to a political party but their bosses sure as hell did.

You don’t accidentally make a political ad for someone. This has the fingerprints of TVNZ’s pro-National leadership, including Rick ‘110K bonus’ Ellis, and the minister’s office all over it.

The Electoral Commission needs to investigate this as a possible breach of the broadcasting rules.

77 comments on “Bill’s latest rort ”

  1. tc 1

    Coincidence that Recycling Rick E gets 110k extra xmas stocking filler then this……you be the judge. If you put weight on Megan the mouthpiece claiming it’s for prior years performance would mean that nice Mr Ellis waits a full 12 months to claim a performance bonus…..that would make him a unique CEO indeed…..YEAH RIGHT ! In fact very right indeed Mr E.

  2. corkscrew 2

    Susanne Paul does not promote herself as flagrantly.

    Capcha = values (superb timing as ever).

  3. tc 3

    Coincidence? Yeah Right…..in Rick’s case far right indeed. TVNZ gets grubbier and more political as Recycling Ricks second reign unfolds. Add to this the Veitch saga/sensing murder etc etc and the former nations voice has become a paltry example of what it should and never could be under it’s current stewardship……independant.

  4. fraser 4

    also – if this was all and only TVNZs doing, wouldnt they be pumping their own hosts over a politician?

  5. Anne 5

    Labour must lay a complaint with the Electoral Commission on this one.

    TVNZ can dress it up in whatever language they like, in practice it’s a party political broadcast. As Campbell Live pointed out, English has even used some of the same words and phrases he used in his 2002 general election ads.

    It sticks in my throat that up to $400,000 of taxpayers money has been used to promote Bill English and the National government!

  6. Lew 6

    You don’t accidentally make a political ad for someone.

    Eddie, thanks — this has been the major point I’ve been wanting to make on the topic (but haven’t had time to). This is a form which has been finely tuned and crafted over half a century to serve a very specific set of purposes — it’s a complex and very challenging medium where every frame, every word, every note is loaded up with as much subtle meaning as possible. With apologies to Tolkien, one does not just walk into political advertising.

    Oh, and another thing: if the best TVNZ’s bod Eric Kearley can come up with is the Lebowski Defence (viz, ‘well, you might think it looks like propaganda, but that’s just, like, your opinion, man’ again and again on Morning Report the other day) then I suspect they have bigger problems than simply an overzealous promotional team.

    L

  7. vto 7

    It doesn’t seem quite that way to me. There is no promotion of the nats, if you ignore the blue colours (like we had to try and ignore the red colours under the previous regime). It just talks about the NZ economy and its current position and its relativity to Australia. I don’t see any party stuff there.

    What words in particular make this a party political broadcast?

    • snoozer 7.1

      vto. It’s 40 seconds of ‘English knows what he’s doing, English is there for us, English is one of us, English has the ideas to take us into the future’. In fact this is a better political ad than most political ads you see.

      The wording is not objective – it’s straight out of the National lines book and its portrayed as if English is going to be the host or something dispensing his wisdom to us in ‘plain English’ while we all admire his leadership.

      Just imagine if the ad featured Cullen.

      • vto 7.1.1

        He is the Minister of Finance. Fronting an ad for a programme about NZ’s economy. Seems quite legitimate to me.

        What you say suggests that no minister should ever front such a thing. And if so, how are Ministers supposed to communicate with the public?

        And there are still no words which point directly to party political stuff. Are there?

        • Richard 7.1.1.1

          A minister can, of course, be in a programme about the NZ economy. And such a programme should be more than just the minister telling us stuff — it should contain either alternative viewpoints or be a serious interview that challenges what the minister says.

          However, a minister shouldn’t be advertising a TV programme, especially if it is ambiguous about whether they are advertising a TV programme or themselves.

          • vto 7.1.1.1.1

            hmmmm. straw clutching it seems..

            • Richard 7.1.1.1.1.1

              What is straw clutching about it?

              The whole issue is that this ad looks like party political broadcast. The issue is the content of this particular ad.

              Ministers being on TV in general is not the issue.

        • felix 7.1.1.2

          vto,

          Do you look at porn and think “well they’re not actually talking about pornography” and conclude that it obviously isn’t porn?

          I know a political ad when I see one.

    • You have got to be kidding!

      Did you have your eyes open?

      Wingnuts normally respond “Oh but Helen/Michael did xyz”

      Please list the occasions when Helen used TVNZ as a party political mouthpiece …

      • vto 7.2.1

        What parts of the ad are party political mickeysavage? Be as specific as you can.

        • mickysavage 7.2.1.1

          All of it. Starting with the bit when Blinglish appears in front of an Auckland scene. I thought he lived in Dipton (he he).

          And the rest where he is trying to appear to be a competent manager of the economy.

          This ad raises issues concerning false and misleading advertising as well as the use of tax payers money to support political parties.

          Even the wingnuts are outraged. Have you read Cactus Kate’s comments?

          • vto 7.2.1.1.1

            “Starting with the bit when Blinglish appears in front of an Auckland scene. I thought he lived in Dipton (he he).”

            Good one. But seriously, how does that prove party political influence?

            “And the rest where he is trying to appear to be a competent manager of the economy.”

            How is that related to the national party? Compared to his role as The NZ govt Finance Minister?

            “This ad raises issues concerning false and misleading advertising as well as the use of tax payers money to support political parties.”

            Where in this ad is the national party being supported?

            This thread has contained the highest quantity of useless hot air I have ever come across.

  8. vto 8

    I just think there is little of any substance to the claims of it being a party political thingy.

    Is everything English says and does party political? Or in his role as a member of the govt?

    It seems that it is the pollie-hounds who cannot see the wood for the trees.

    What is party political about it? Nobody has come with anything specific to support the contention – merely, “it looks political” “I know political when I see it” etc etc. Specifics folks, specifics. Or as r0b would say, evidence please..

    • felix 8.1

      Have you ever seen a political ad? Maybe you just don’t know what they look like.

    • felix 8.2

      Also, I’m quite serious about the porn question. Have you ever come to this conclusion?

      • vto 8.2.1

        porn, sheesh. I have heard that usually there is no talking in porn, mostly just moaning and groaning and squealing and squeaking.

        Which is quite different to political porn, which involves copious amounts of talking (as well as moaning and groaning and squealing and squeaking).

        So the analogy has a sag on..

        • felix 8.2.1.1

          Then how do you know if it’s porn, vto?

          If they’re not specifically talking about porn then surely it’s just an ordinary film. No?

          The analogy isn’t perfect, (none are) but it’s a serious question. How do you know?

          • vto 8.2.1.1.1

            Because it involves $^#king and all those sexual acts. If there was no sexual activity in it then it would not be porn.

            This ad, as I keep stating, and in keeping with your saggy analogy has no party political act in it. It has no %#@king and all those usual party political acts and shenanagins.

            What particular words, or statements, or pictures, are party political acts in this ad?

            Perhaps you fullas are just jealous because Labour didn’t think of doing similar. Perhaps it is just a different way for the govt to cvommunicate with the people. After all, this govt goes about things quite differently to the last govt.

            • Lew 8.2.1.1.1.1

              vto, I’ll see if I can find time to do a close analysis of the ad at some stage.

              The point of this sort of thing is that it’s subtle; being too obdurate to realise there’s politricks in it makes you more, not less, susceptible to that politricks.

              In that regard I suppose it’s not like porn.

              L

            • felix 8.2.1.1.1.2

              I could show you plenty of porn without any “$^#king and all those sexual acts”. You’d still know that it was porn.

              Likewise, I can show you plenty of work full of “$^#king and all those sexual acts” which you probably wouldn’t recognise as porn.

              It’s complex, but the distinction has more to do with the way it’s presented, not what is presented.

              You’re looking for “particular words, or statements, or pictures” because you think that’s what defines a political ad, just like you’re trying to define porn as “$^#king and all those sexual acts”.

              The truth is that neither medium is as simple as you think it is.

            • fraser 8.2.1.1.1.3

              “If there was no sexual activity in it then it would not be porn.”

              ergo – if there was no finance minister talking about the economy then it wouldnt be a political broadcast?

            • vto 8.2.1.1.1.4

              Felix, you sound all paranoid and conspiratorial.

              As an exercise in following your suggestion then, try taking all the “words, statements and pictures” out of the ad. What is left? There are only “words, statements and pictures” in the ad. Which ones are party political?

            • Lew 8.2.1.1.1.5

              vto, pictures — yes. But it’s more than just words; there is also music and cuts and and delivery and personality and … you get the idea. All this stuff has meaning, for them what has organs to perceive.

              L

            • felix 8.2.1.1.1.6

              Explain “paranoid and conspiratorial.” I think I’m being quite straightforward. Actually don’t bother, let’s stay on topic.

              There are only “words, statements and pictures’ in the ad.

              Wrong. Look again. If you take all the furniture out of a room can you say “there’s nothing in here”?

    • snoozer 8.3

      He claims that New Zealand has been under-performing relative to Australia in per capita growth. That’s not true, NZ grew faster than Australia in percentage terms under Labour.

      Of course, you could argue back that Australia grew faster in dollar terms but there, we’re already having a political debate…. and that’s the problem – English has been given a million dollars in free airtime to make political comments.

      Not to mention that the gap with Australia was a plank of National’s election campaign, no-one else’s.

    • Lew 8.4

      vto,

      Is everything English says and does party political? Or in his role as a member of the govt?

      Yes. He’s a career politician, Member of Parliament and deputy Prime Minister. His default mode is ‘political’, and anything he says and does reflects upon his party and the country he leads.

      So, yes, everything he does is political. But that’s not what’s at issue here — it would have ben reasonable to feature English in these ads, supposing other measures were taken to leaven the politicking — such as including other political actors, or choosing a different form, or … well, not conducting a brazen homage to his 2002 election campaign would have been a good start.

      L

      • vto 8.4.1

        Yes of course everything politicians do is political. And when in govt the two roles mentioned are vastly mixed up.

        Nobody has yet pointed out anything party political about it though, other than some similarity to some ad back in 2002, which is so long ago nobody but pollie types will remember it.

        You suggest Lew that the politics should have been leavened. What politics? What words, statements or pictures are party political?

        • felix 8.4.1.1

          vto, stop trying to narrow the issue down to specific “words, statements or pictures”.

          Those are not the defining characteristics in question.

          • Lew 8.4.1.1.1

            Well, in a way they are — the text in question is made up of sound and vision, and the meaning which those sounds and visions contain. It is possible to nail down a text’s meaning to specific things like words and pictures, and I intend to have a preliminary crack at it today. 45 seconds isn’t long, but you sure can cram a whole lotta meaning into it.

            L

            • felix 8.4.1.1.1.1

              Yes, I should have said “not the only…”

              I look forward to your analysis. I found the costume changes particularly interesting.

            • Lew 8.4.1.1.1.2

              Yeah. A Bill of two halves. Pity there wasn’t one of him in a swanndri and gumboots.

              L

          • vto 8.4.1.1.2

            felix, see my post above. There are only “words, statements and pictures” in the ad. Take them out and you have a blank screen.

            • felix 8.4.1.1.2.1

              And as I said above, if you remove the furniture from a room, is there nothing there?

              Of course not. You might have lighting, temperature, a mixture of gases, windows, frames, wallpaper, walls, flooring, insects, architecture, etc etc. Oh and Bill English.

              Why do you insist there was nothing in the room except furniture?

            • Armchair Critic 8.4.1.1.2.2

              vto:
              There have been plenty of advertisements featuring politicians, including not just images but also sound-bites. As far as I can recall there has not been an advertisement that has lasted so long and focussed solely on one individual politician or political party, outside party political advertisements at election time. Just using a politician (of any stripe) makes the advertisment political.
              What concerns me is the lack of balance. If the program were fiction, then I suppose having a single politician feature in it would be okay, albeit weird. But I expect that in this case the program is not fiction, in which case some measure of balance should be expected, not just in the program itself but in the promotion of the program. Because to be balanced the program will need to effectively present alternative viewpoints. Without advertising that alternative viewpoints will be presented, the advertising is misleading. And since the advertising does present a viewpoint (that of Mr English on behalf of the government), not presenting advertising containing alternative viewpoints is not balanced.
              In short – I don’t like what has been done, it is not the proper thing to do.

            • RS 8.4.1.1.2.3

              vto, you are digging a big hole trying to defend this – first time I saw it I really thought I had woken up in an election campaign. You would have been bleating and squeling if Michael Cullen had fronted such a thing. Or would that have been ok with you?

            • Lanthanide 8.4.1.1.2.4

              In vto’s world, there are no oscars for set design, costume, lighting, makeup and most importantly editing.

              *You* may think that none of those things matter, but there is a very wideheld belief that they do amongst everyone else, so much so that there are university and trade courses where you can spend years studying them, and the top craftsmen spend decades in the job while still learning new things and improving themselves.

            • vto 8.4.1.1.2.5

              So anyone come up with a description of which words, statements and pictures are party political? Or which empty rooms with no furniture are in fact rooms with furniture? Or blank screen tvs are party political? Or music? Delivery? Personality? Just a single description of anything or things in the ad which qualifies as something party political.

              Colour of his tie perhaps? The way he says the words “together we can do it”? They way he says the two sentences either side of that sentence perhaps? The way the furniture is arranged? They way the ad finishes off with a flourish? The lighting and setting even? I don’t know – you tell me. One example.

              Everyone has said “it is” but none of you have backed it up with evidence/examples to describe “how it is”.

              Or is it just the vibe, the mabo..

            • r0b 8.4.1.1.2.6

              You’re just taking the mickey vto. Everyone knows its an ad.

              On the off chance that you truly are blind and deaf to blatant advertising – watch this TV3 item:
              http://www.3news.co.nz/Bill-English-and-the-telly/tabid/367/articleID/127236/cat/67/Default.aspx

            • gitmo 8.4.1.1.2.7

              What’s being “advertised” that everyone’s worried about ?

              Do you really think anyone outside of the small number of political hacks on blogs will give a feck ?

            • vto 8.4.1.1.2.8

              r0b, you’ve done it too. Even the people on the tv3 item. All said “Everyone knows its an ad”.

              An ad for the National Party? An ad for a tv program about the govt and the economy? A political ad?

              “Everybody knows its an (political) ad” but nobody can point out why.

            • felix 8.4.1.1.2.9

              vto, we’ve been pointing out why all day. You’ve chosen, for whatever reason, to ignore that.

              Redbaiter was doing the same thing just the other day – asking the same question over and over and pretending no-one was answering it.

            • vto 8.4.1.1.2.10

              That was my whole point felix – nobody in fact has said why. They have only said it is. Describe to me why this ad is party political. Or point me to where someone has already described why this ad is party political.

            • felix 8.4.1.1.2.11

              Go back and read it again – I’ve given you lots of answers, as have many others.

              Short answer: it’s more to do with how it’s presented than what is presented.

              If you want more of an answer you can start answering some of the questions I’ve put to you. For now I’m done explaining things you either already understand or never will.

            • vto 8.4.1.1.2.12

              No worries. But I just went back and re-read every one of your posts on this and other than some analogy type thingys there is no description of which parts are party political (whatever type of part).

              I’m not going mad here am I? Surely there must be others out there who can see my point..

        • felix 8.4.1.2

          vto:

          You suggest Lew that the politics should have been leavened. What politics? What words, statements or pictures are party political?

          Did you even read to the end of the sentence? Lew wrote:

          “such as including other political actors, or choosing a different form, or well, not conducting a brazen homage to his 2002 election campaign would have been a good start.”

    • Lew 8.5

      vto, here you go, never say I don’t do nothin’ for you ; )

      L

      • vto 8.5.1

        Thanks Lew, I read your post there. Well done on being the only person to explain the ‘why’. For the record I have not been obdurate etc I have seriously been asking for the proof to the accusation – comes from some academic and legal background. It is the sort of thing that should have been provided in this original post / thread to give it some support and cred.

        Following your post on politico, it would seem then that it could be very difficult for any politician to advertise anything without it being seen as political. I think Pascals bookie says similar below re English selling gingernuts.

        imo one of the stronger parts of your analysis is where the change from Finance Minister Bill in suit and tie to polo-shirted Bill takes place and, as you say, links the two roles. Mixes the Ministerial role with the personal role. Probably naughty and could have been avoided.

        As a tangent – this govt certainly does things very differently than the last. It could be that television programmes are a new (and possibly very clever) way to communicate with the public. If so there will be some gnashing of teeth by the opposition for the now obvious advantage and a rough settling-in period. Interesting.

        Thanks for putting up with me. Again, I was not being difficult, just demanding some robustness to the accusation / thread.

  9. Blue 9

    The first time I saw the ad I wondered what on earth National were doing paying for an ad for themselves at this stage in the electoral cycle.

    Then, because it seemed to be all about the recession I thought it might be some sort of bizarre propaganda designed to ease citizen’s fears about the economy.

    It wasn’t until the very end of it that I realized it was actually a plug for a TVNZ show.

    Then I just became confused at why on earth TVNZ had allowed such a thing on air. Surely someone at some point in the process recognised that this was a bad idea?

    Then again, listening to TVNZ’s response, maybe not. The PR people have always a disturbing ability to insist that the sky is green and the grass is blue like they really believe it. Perhaps they do…

  10. spot 10

    …and TVNZ will eventually back down, survey the ‘mess’ and wonder if it could ever have drawn such publicity for a show on a channel that barely, and routinely, figures in the ratings margins…

  11. Bill 11

    On a positive note…he has made many more people than usual aware of exactly how he sees the recession playing out. (Basically business as usual by next election)

    And he is wrong. Very, very wrong.

    This promo could well be a wee rabid dog that comes back to nip and bite both him and National when they’d rather everyone had forgotten how they refused to crisis manage and simply got on with lining their (or their mate’s) pockets and blindly implementing ideology.

  12. Jasper 12

    My neighbours saw this ad before I did and were frothing at the mouth about it. They’re about as far away from the beltway as you can get, one works in manufacturing, the other works on a boat.

    Even they saw it as a National advertisement. What really got them going was Englishs use of “we’re nearly out of a recession, together we can do it”

    Hypocrisy, flagrant abuse of power and a totally condescending attitude, not new to the tories.

    They voted National last year. Have now finally owned up to it after professing to vote Greens for the better part of this year, and they wish that the people of NZ had the power to demand a snap election.

    In their words “Labour lite they sold. Labour lite we bought. What did we get? Frakking Cylon skinjobs”

  13. Lanthanide 13

    I was confused when I saw it on TV as well, until it got to the end and they said it was for ‘Plain English’, which itself sounds like the show is going to be hosted by English.

    As someone else said above, imagine if they had Cullen fronting up for something like this, just in terms of having the minister of finance (from any government/party) doing a long rambling speech on a TV ad. I don’t think Cullen would ever have seen it as appropriate, nor would Helen. Then imagine the Nat’s outcry if he had done such a thing. Imagine if they had Cullen doing it *now*, when he isn’t even in government, what a big outcry that Nats would make over it.

    Alternatively they could have had just ~5 seconds of Bill English talking at the head or trailer of the ad, or mentioned that English will appear on an episode of the show (if he will in fact do that, I don’t think that’s the plan though), which would have been much more acceptable, if still not entirely appropriate. What we’ve gotten, however, is a very slick-looking spot that makes Bill seem like he has all the answers and reeks of self-promotion.

  14. oh, i think this was a deliberate strategy by tvnz, as it is with many advertisers. create something as controversial as possible and hopefully just over the line to draw out complaints. then sit back and enjoy the free publicity, while being totally self-righteous and innocent. even if no-one complains, people will take notice of the ad because of it’s controversial nature, and then you try harder next time to offend and draw the complaint. it’s all win for the advertiser and client. not so much for the rest of us.

    • Lanthanide 14.1

      Only because there are rarely any sensible consequences to those sorts of actions to act as deterrents to future behaviour.

  15. VTO you are a troll.

    How about starting an argument that night is day?

    If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is a duck.

    This is the biggest duck I have seen since the last general election, and it is funded by my tax dollars. Can you imagine how p*&d off this makes me feel?

  16. vto 16

    I am not a troll. You just sound like all the other kneejerkers. No answers.

    • felix 16.1

      vto, do you actually have any arguments for why this is not a political ad? Ones which haven’t already been dealt with today, above?

      Or is it just a case of you being right and everyone else in the blogosphere being wrong? (not saying that couldn’t be the case)

      • Pat 16.1.1

        It is not a political ad. It is a promo for a new programme.

        vto is right. No-one can point to anything specific that is party political.

        It only seems like a political ad, simply because Bill is fronting it, and his only other TV promos have been political ads, during election campaigns.

        Because of this, it does him no favours. At first sight/sound you assume it is a political ad. And doing a promo for a new program called “Plain English” only makes it harder to differentiate.

        Bill has a tendency to mis-judge opportunities to promote his profile. Think Fight for Life. He should stick to what he is good at – speaking in the House (one of the Nats best) and being a moderate Finance Minister.

        • felix 16.1.1.1

          Nah, you just don’t know much about the subject. See if you can find any non-political adverts that look, sound and feel like Bill’s one.

          • mickysavage 16.1.1.1.1

            The blogosphere is great.

            The one weakness is that some think that they are entitled to argue the indefensible.

          • Pat 16.1.1.1.2

            Do you deliberately miss the point?

            Let me put it another way – Bill English could advertise gingernuts and it would still look and sound like a political ad. He does not know how to look or sound any different. Phil Goff has the same affliction. Too many years in the Beehive has scarred their personality.

            • Pascal's bookie 16.1.1.1.2.1

              Do you deliberately miss the point?….Bill English could advertise gingernuts and it would still look and sound like a political ad

              That is the point Pat, but you seem to miss why that means the ads were of concern.

              The fact that they look and sound like political ads, means they function as political ads. If English was advertising gingernuts in a typical gingernutty ad way, (warm fire, kids, cups of tea, smiling father figure putting his feet up) then yeah, that’d be political too. You betcha.

  17. QoT 17

    @gitmoWhat’s being “advertised’ that everyone’s worried about ?

    Are you aware of the concept of “branding”, gitmo? Or “profile”? I guess they’re not “words, pictures and statements” so feel free to play the vto card.

    • gitmo 17.1

      QoT .. meh maybe in the run up to an election ….. but this far out who cares ?

      Besides in relation to “branding’ or “profile’ English’s is pretty much stuffed .. politician, Minister of Finance, failed party leader and rorter……… I would have thought this blog would want as much of him on TV as possible.

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