Crosby/Textor, an outfit renowned for its anti-democratic, secretive practices, has built the public image of John Key (Brand Key) from the ground up. That’s why Key is seen as ‘nice’ but people, including National supporters, say they don’t know what he stands for and can’t say why he would a good PM. That’s why he is unclear on his personal history and principles; it’s a fairytale has been built on historical fact. That’s why before he was a C/T client Key’s statements were much more rightwing, and still are when he’s speaking off the cuff.
This goes far beyond everyday spin. The Key we see is not the real John Key speaking from his heart and mind, it is an actor repeating lines from C/T. No wonder National activist Richard Long called him “the leadership candidate straight from central casting” or Steve Braunias of the SST says ‘it wasn’t as simple as thinking that the lights were on but no one was home. It was more the case that he was in there, but there were no lights on.’
It occurs to me that a few of the political journalists may be wondering how much of their conversations with Key has been his own work, and how much has originated elsewhere.
That’s dangerous territory for National. It’s acknowledged widely that Key doesn’t have a great handle on policy detail or background knowledge – so he needs to stick to his script. In the light of these revelations, C/T’s reaction will be to have Key stick more tightly to the script, offering fewer chances for slips but if journalists refuse to accept C/T pap from Key, what does he have left?