Friday, August 25, 2017

First Green Party ad

The video above is the first TV ad for the NZ Green Party. It was released a week and a half ago, but I missed it at the time. I saw it on TV for the first time yesterday, a day after I first saw the NZ Labour Party ad on TV. It’s a solid enough ad.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I actually saw a little bit of the ad in a news report when the Greens held a re-launch of their campaign after their co-leader Metiria Turei resigned. I wasn’t listening closely, I guess, because I assumed it was a video they showed to people who were there—it was only a snippet, after all. It turns out it was a snippet from this ad, and I found that out only after I checked the Greens’ YouTube Channel as I started looking for various parties’ ads.

As such ads go, it’s solid: It emphasises what’s important to the Greens, and the issues they focus on the most, so, in that sense, it does what it needs to do. However, it’s not as strong as it could be, nor is it, in my opinion, as strong as Greens ads in previous years. This ad has no urgency and offers no compelling reason to vote Greens rather than another party until the very end, and that is what’s wrong with the ad: In journalism terms, it buries the lede.

The thing is, most campaign ads are exactly like this: Delivering the heart of the campaign message and little else. This is so common, and understandable, because it’s very difficult to provide anything more than emotion in an ad that only lasts 15 or 30 seconds.

The narration near the end: “Don’t sit this one out: All of our futures depend on it. Party Vote Green” does have some urgency, but in light of recent news organisations' overreaction to one opinion poll, viewers could be forgiven for thinking—sarcastically—that the “all of our futures depend on it” refers to Green Party MPs.

However, this is also the strongest part of their ad, beginning right before that somewhat unfortunate wording: “This election is crucial. It’s time to give New Zealand a great Green heart in government”. The closing animation in the ad shows green hearts coming together and forming a map of New Zealand (in green, of course). This is a really good visual, and combined with the “great Green heart” line does what the rest of the ad doesn’t: It provides a strong reason to give one’s Party Vote to the Green Party, and to help people feel good about that vote. That’s outstanding, and the strongest part of the entire ad.

So, if I was to re-do that ad, I would rearrange the narration to something like this: “Don’t sit this one out, because this election is crucial. It’s time to give New Zealand a great Green heart in government. Party Vote Green.” This also dumps the mockable “all of our futures depend on it”, which doesn’t really add anything special, anyway.

What lets the ad down are the fairly generic visuals in most of the ad and generalisation in most of the voiceover. There’s nothing wrong with those, they’re just not strong enough, certainly not nearly as strong as that last thought and the closing graphic. If they do a 15 second version, they should concentrate on that part—ideally something along the lines of my edit—because their goal has to be to get enough people to give them their party vote that they can be a strong coalition partner for the NZ Labour Party.

Still, it’s a solid ad, and a good start.

Disclosures: I’m a supporter of the New Zealand Labour Party, but have no position of any kind with them, nor am I in contact with party leaders. All opinions expressed are entirely my own, based on more than 40 years closely following election campaigns. In the interest of even-handedness, at the moment I’m sharing only ads that have been posted to YouTube because they’re easily accessible to anyone. I do not verify that all ads are actually broadcast, and anything I say about them being on TV is based entirely on my own experience; other people’s experiences may be different.

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