I tried to watch National’s opening address from the perspective of ‘how would this look to someone who is not politically engaged?’ but I spent half the time laughing through-out it. It was just so, so bad.
What possessed them to just a format of Key, small and alone on a stage, rambling off long, boring answers to scripted, soft questions in a fake town-hall meeting? And, why didn’t they look at it when they had produced it and bin the results immediately? It demolishes the myth of the National PR machine. These guys aren’t good. They’re amateurs who’ve just been lucky until now.
I loved how the conveniently ‘ethnic’ audience members in the foreground looked either bored or skeptical when they cut to them.
And, only mentioning at the end that this was meant to have been a real town hall meeting (which it clearly wasn’t) even if you’re going we such a silly format, why not have him talking to camera in the car as he arrives – set the scene? Or, better, why not come up with a concept that isn’t stupid?
Far from making Key look presidential, he looked small and waffling. This is why he doesn’t do long-form interviews, It was terrible TV. I don’t know if he is good in genuine town-hall meetings. I suspect that, if he is, it’s because he uses humour to engage the audience. There wasn’t any humour in this fake town-hall. Just dead eyes and blah, blah blah. Were they trying to boor the audience into changing the channel before Labour’s?
Key spent quarter of the time on the defensive about national standards – on the defensive! In his own opening address!
He mentioned only one new policy, asset sales, and he got the number of companies on the block for privatisation wrong too.
It almost looks like they have no money. It’s the same with the tv ads too. But, that can’t be right… Are they keeping their powder dry for a second election? Or are they just a bit shit?
The Labour one was bloody moving. And it was really clever to use the 20 minutes as a documentary about who Labour is and what they stand for, rather than haranguing or trying too hard to ‘sell’ (which the Greens did, although their address was still lightyears ahead of National.
I was worried it could have come off as trite to someone not rooted in the Left’s values. But I got texts from people who aren’t strongly political saying that it was brilliant. saying it would make them vote Labour. Did you read the comments in Sprout’s post? there were people who had never dared to comment before saying ‘fuck it, this is what I believe in and I’m going to say so’, there were people who said they had donated or joined the party on the strength of it.
Labour has made its base proud and, I’m sure, won tens of thousands of votes with this one move.
I think that the success of it was that there was a geniune ‘kiwiness’ about what Labour presented and it said ‘our values are your values, we’ve been alongside you, we’ve delivered what you want, and we still hold true to those values’.
Having the MPs telling the stories of how their values were shaped, stories that resonated with the audience and humanised the MPs was brilliant. And the choice of MPs in the address was very clever and very strategic. Apart from the leader and the finance spokesperson, all the others are in seats that Labour lost last term (or the term before, in Napier’s case) and want to win back. Apart from O’Connor all those MPs were first termers, showing Labour’s new face, while linking to its history. That was brilliant exposure for up and coming MPs in marginal seats. And they all presented wonderfully.
Almost out of nowhere, Labour has seized the discourse. It is dictating the run of play with its policies, its framing, and, now, with its marketing. This is how you win.