There’s an ad campaign at the moment about how DB Export was supposedly created in reaction to the Black Budget. It’s full of lies and a lot of people see it as a slur on Arnold Nordmeyer and Labour in general. In fact, this odd campaign under the slogan ‘how to lose an election’ isn’t about Labour. It’s a warning to National.
The campaign is centred around the old myth that Labour lost the 1960 election because of the 1958 budget, which was two and half years earlier with two other intervening budgets. Supposedly, the alcohol excise increase had turned working people against Labour. (Jim Anderton has done a good job fisking the campaigns lies here)
Fast forward 52 years and we have a National government that, at the time this campaign was being created, was considering a range of recommendations on alcohol reform, including an alcohol excise increase. It’s these reforms that DB is seeking to influence when it intones that putting up the tax on booze is “how to lose an election”.
DB isn’t the only company using mainstream advertising to try to influence government policy.
There are those Dairy NZ ads that seek to portray the dairy industry as the backbone of the country. The message isn’t ‘consume more dairy products’ or even ‘work in dairy’, it’s ‘let dairy have its way with water resources’.
The same with all those ads for Chorus and Vector that show happy lines workers installing fibre optics. I don’t get to choose which company lays the fibre to my house and neither do you. Those ads weren’t directed at us, they were about trying to enhance public sentiment towards the companies to indirectly influence the decisions on the divi-ing up of the government’s $1.5 billion broadband investment. When you’re competing for a slice of the pie that big, spending a few hundred thousand trying to get the public on your side is worthwhile.
Of course, there are more blatant ad campaigns directed at the government, like that Kiwifruit one from Turners and Growers.
It’s an interesting phenomenon, companies using mass advertising to try to influence the government like this. I wonder if its a function of weak consumer demand. No-one’s bothering to advertise to consumers who have their wallets shut, so advertising has become cheaper and a viable option for companies trying to pressure the government.