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Real John vs Brand Key

Written By: - Date published: 5:41 am, July 3rd, 2008 - 31 comments
Categories: john key, slippery, spin - Tags: ,

Let’s go back to the heart of this story: it is not about push-polling or whatever, this is about how Brand Key has been purpose-built by a company world-renowned for its secretive, anti-democratic practices.

Crosby/Textor are not just some consultants like parties might use to assist policy development. They have built our image of Key from the ground up along these simple lines – create a nice life-history myth loosely based on the facts, speak all the time of being positive and ambitious  (when was the last time you heard Key actually say something positive?), keep policy vague so voters won’t be turned off, and smile, smile, smile. Finding out that Crosby/Textor is behind Brand Key is the final piece of the puzzle that makes all we’d seen before clear.

Let’s look at the real John Key vs Brand Key repeating Crosby/Textor lines:

Real John is quite a rightie and has a tendency to speak his mind. He’s the one who said his differences with Brash were not fundemental, more a “matter of tone”. Brand Key is the ‘tone’ created by Crosby/Textor – bland and shallow but inoffensive and electable. Just remember, it’s Real John who would be PM, making daily decisions that affect Kiwis’ lives.

31 comments on “Real John vs Brand Key ”

  1. dave 1

    C/T are image builders not robot builders. Key is less of a robot than you maintain. Perhaps Clark needs to use C/T after her latest smear tactics and push polling claims. Next thing Clark will say
    ” We`d love to see push polling rise” or “smear is here, get used to it – even if I am ‘misspoke’ at times”.

    Can we have some posts on positive politics – you guys are starting to sound as desperate as Helen Clark. Is something wrong?

  2. Stephen 2

    That table at the top is something a little odd dave…

  3. higherstandard 3

    Dave agreed

    Perhaps a healthy debate on the positives and negatives of ACC privatisation along the lines of yesterdays discussion would be more worthwhile than the continued attacks on Key – although as I’ve noted here previously it appears that smearing Key is Labour’s only hope/strategy of winning the election – tis rather tedious however.

    I thought the Prime Minister might try and rise above it but the last couple of days suggest that’s not going to be the case.

  4. monkey-boy 4

    Steve Steve Steve, we get it! You don’t think John Key is a suitable Prime Minister!
    But no matter haw many ways you try to reconstruct the argument, it still comes across as desperate, negative and ivory-tower-stuff.
    As I suggested yesterday, you are simply doing C/T’s work for them, it must be the easiest gig they’ve ever had!
    Look at Helen Clark’s attack in Parliament yesterday, she’s even not above bring Keys ‘family’ into the attack campaign.
    There is a thin line between moral indignation and nastiness, and I think this strategy and Helen’s Strategy is starting to cross it.
    Another thing that has to be considered – is it possible that the electorate are actually keen to get ‘Real John Key’ into power, because they want to punish Labour for a failed tenure? In which case, again, you are simply underpinning the very reasons they would line up to vote for him!
    Now, sorry and all that, but I’m going back to work. As addictive as your blog may be I really have to be strong today and try to stay away…

  5. monkey-boy 5

    ps one last thing Steve – that table of yours was rather reminiscent of Clare Curren’s working document of last year, I think. Plagiarism?!? Outrageous!?!?
    WIll the real Steve Pierson please stand up?

    [all my own work old boy. It’s not hard, just a good memory and some google searches. I’ve never met Clare Curren, you seem very fimiliar with her work though. SP]

  6. rjs131 6

    How about doing a table of Helen Clarke changes in position, such as opposing tax cuts then supporting them when teh polls went against here, not reversing the 1991 benefit cuts, ending closing the gaps (which was supposed to bea flagship policy), thinking Taito Philip field was only guilty of helping people etc…

  7. BeShakey 7

    Drawing a pretty long bow monkey – talking about whether Key properly declared his interests through a family trust is hardly an attack on his family. If you want to see a proper attack on someones family check out how Peter Davis has been treated at times. Keys family has never been exposed to anything like that (and shouldn’t).

    The reason there are so many ‘personality’ attacks on Key is that that and tax cuts (the details of which are yet to be seen) are all he and National have offered as a reason to elect them. If their election platform is elect me I’m a nice guy, I wouldn’t do anything you would disagree with, plus I have a nice smile, then a critique of that is reasonable. Usually parties have to try to make the media and public aware of their policies, in this case the media and public are so keen to find out what the hell Nationals policies are they are doing the work for them. Unfortunately no one has had much luck finding out much about the policies they will run on.

  8. mike 8

    Steve, was Helen’s rabid attack yesterday a “hit and run”?
    Pity she tripped and landed in a pile of pooh during the getaway eh

  9. coge 9

    Steve, the main issue here is your PM’s performance in the house yesterday. She came in fired up, but ended up doing a cinderella. TV3 covered it well.

    Overall question time was most entertaining especially the Winston & Rodney show.

  10. Scribe 10

    From the Herald:

    A spokesman for Helen Clark said last night that she accepted Mr Key’s word on the matter but said “the wider point is that he has privatisation in his blood”.

    Isn’t this exactly the sort of thing you accuse Key of doing, SP? I’ll await a post on that later today.

    “Tui” moment

  11. You know guys – if you want to see posts, you’re welcome to set up your own blogs and put them up there. It’s a free interweb.

    HS. Got a post on ACC coming up soon. But if you want an in depth look at the system – read the PRiceWaterhouseCoopers report we’ve linked to several times.

    dave. I wrote to Audrey Young yesterday for the actual quote from Clark on pushpolling, she said it woudl be going up on her blog but it’s not there yet.

  12. higherstandard 12

    Thanks SP

    I look forward to it.

  13. Dilip 13

    I think this is Labour’s new campaign strategy. Continue attacking and smearing John Key and make politics in New Zealand so dirty that less people engage in it, and make people so depressed about the state of politics that fewer people turn up to vote. I think Labour believes that its voters will turn up anyway but if they can depress middle New Zealand by making politics really sleazy as we have seen from the Prime Minister yesterday and the Standard all last week then they will turn all of politics into a rubbish dump.

    I just hope Mr Key doesn’t respond to Labour sleaze. He should stay with his dignity and continue to positive while Labour stays in the gutter. The Standard should be ashamed of how they engage in this gutter politic.

  14. BeShakey 14

    Dilip – how about a few examples of the positive policies JK has rolled out? And a cheeky grin isn’t a policy.

  15. Dilip 15

    beshakey so do you really think that Labour’s shameful attempts to make New Zealand gutter politics by smearing John Key and using hit and run attacks is about raising quality of policy debate? How often does the Standard talk about policy? Almost all of posts this week are about John Key and Crosby Textor and slandering him. They have nothing to do with policy. Labour doesn’t care about debating policy and neither does the Standard.

  16. r0b 16

    Labour doesn’t care about debating policy and neither does the Standard.

    Labour and the Greens certainly do care about policy. Every one of their members can have a say. In National their policy is so secretive that not even the “spokespersons” know it. One is left with the impression that National develops its policy by auction to the highest bidder.

  17. Shock! Horror! Politican changes his mind! Ahh! Not bound in ideology! No! Someone get me some oxygen I’m going to faint!
    Too late AHHHHhhhhaaa……

  18. Tane 18

    Let’s not forget women on the DPB “breeding for a business”

  19. Dilip 19

    So every one of Labours members had a say in increasing road user charges by ten percent and not giving truck drivers any notice of this rob? That was decided and hatched in secret. It was so secret and announced the same day that kiwirail is built so now we know where the money is coming from to subsidise rail: truck drivers are paying for it.

    Tomorrow truck drivers will have their say about how Labour doesn’t let anybody have their say. Labour certainly knows about highest bidders, being the highest bidders for toll holdings and paying big premium to them for a train set that will cost one and half billion dollars.

    When will labour release the secret on what the train set really costs? Why is Labour being so secretive about it? Why is it that the prime minister has time to research what shares john key had and when he had them (and still gets it wrong) but doesn’t bother to learn about the basic detail of biggest asset purchase in new zealand government history?

  20. So, Richard when he says “we would love to see wages drop” and says “we will increase after-tax wages” before before and after the first statement, which way has he changed his mind, or can’t he make up his mind.

    When Key says “i’m somewhat suspicious of climate change” and then says “i’ve always believed in climate change” how can these statements both be true?

    When Key says “we’re missing in action in Iraq” then says “we wouldn’t have sent troops to Iraq” which is true?

  21. Tane 21

    Dilip – every study ever done on this shows disengagement from politics harms the left, and that low turnouts tend to favour the right as it’s the poor who are least likely to vote. The enrolled non-vote is heavily working class.

    The reason the left is criticising the Crosby/Textor creation of Brand Key is it reduces politics to a branding exercise and hollow hit and run tactics rather than an honest debate about what’s best for the country.

  22. Dilip 22

    Tane I do not believe when Labour’s poll rating is at 28% a smear campaign against john keys will damage Labour, they have nothing to lose so they are playing gutter politic. I would prefer politics to be reduced to a branding exercise than the gutter hit and run tactics of the prime minister in Parliament yesterday when she accused John Key of corruption and got her facts wrong and refused to apologise afterwards. How is that best for the country? How is answering parliamentary questions showing the prime minister knows nothing about how much the rail buy back costs or how much the premium paid for it or how much ongoing investment is needed, but seems to know everything about what shares John Key has and when? That is not a prime minister in charge of her country. That is desperate prime minister clutching at straws.

  23. coge 23

    The truck drivers collective action planned for tomorrow is a critical event this election year. The unions will be missing in action on this one. Can anyone answer why this is the case?

  24. Tane 24

    Because it’s a capital strike not a labour strike?

    Also because it’s illegal for workers to strike over political issues?

    Watch out for Steve’s post coming soon, it’s quite enlightening about the truck companies’ motivations.

  25. bill brown 25


    Because it is a self-serving exercise on the drivers’ part.

    On one hand they want to use the roads to conduct their business and on the other they don’t want to pay for their maintenance.

    And I think we’d all like one month’s advance warning of prices going up so that we could stock-pile, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

  26. r0b 26

    So every one of Labours members had a say in increasing road user charges by ten percent and not giving truck drivers any notice of this rob

    Yep, actually that was my idea! Nah just kidding. Every member doesn’t decide on every policy, but overall in Labour the policy direction is shaped by the members. Here’s Colin James writing in The Herald after last year’s Labour Party Conference:

    “A Martian visitor knowing the two main parties only by their annual conferences would have rated Labour well ahead. Labour’s was big, energetically explored issues and policies and sprouted young people and national diversity. National’s was tight, white and slight on debate.’

    Tight, white and slight on debate. Indeed. While behind the scenes the deals (like ACC) are being done…

  27. Matthew Pilott 27

    Wow, dilip has a horse as high as young IP used to ride.

    Dilip, you can cite one example of ‘hit and run gutter’ tactics from Labour. you’ll notice no one here has defended those actions.

    National have spent the last few years bitching and moaning about what’s wrong, selling their NZ Sucks campaign, without offering a single solution to any problem.

    Take your pick – National and Key have complained, but have offered nothing to this country.

    So get off your horse, get your head out of the clouds and take an objective look at what’s going on. One nasty incident vs years of sabotaging democracy by refusing to talk policy and using shallow branding instead. Good to read that you’ll settle for a McDemocracy, that you’re happy with a branding election. Most of us want something better.

    P.s. perhaps you’re new here, but that doesn’t excuse you for not noticing articles on ACC, S59, Kiwirail, reporting quality and DL organisation in the last few days alone. it’s not all C/T, just open the other eye and you’ll see it.

  28. Blar 28

    Right, so C|T write all of John Key’s lines now, but did nothing of the sort when he was finance spokesman?

    You can’t credibly claim that everything Key says now is part of some hollow brand but that everything he said in 2005 came straight from the heart.

    Up until he became leader, the Labour party painted Key as a leader in the moderate faction of the party, uncomfortable with Brash’s ‘hardline’ policies. They claimed he was promoting a ‘hardline’ agenda at odds with his own moderate beliefs, a claim aimed at destabilising Brash. Now Brash is no longer leader, the reverse is argued – that Key is running a moderate agenda at odds with his own hardline beliefs. It just doesn’t stack up.

  29. Razorlight 29


    That is the best analysis I have read so far.

    In summary Labour and their mates will say Key does not believe in what he says, no matter what he says.

  30. Pascal's bookie 30

    “Up until he became leader, the Labour party painted Key as a leader in the moderate faction of the party, uncomfortable with Brash’s ‘hardline’ policies. ”

    I’m guessing you’ve got some awesome quotes to back that up blar. I’d like to see them.

    Fact is, Key was happy to be Brash’s finance guy. Fair enough. He was either willing to endorse policies that he thought were wrong headed then, or he’s lying now about his ‘moderateness’, or he he’s an empty suit with no real convictions about these things and will run with whatever his handlers tell him.

    That’s all Labour’s saying, and if he hadn’t actually changed his positions Labour would have nothing to throw. But he did. So bleating that Labour is calling him out on it is some weak-ass tea.

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