Do voters really take much notice of political advertising?





Most political advertising to me seems very negative. I must admit I read political parties polices and make my voting decision from that. Surely people wouldn’t make their decision on who to vote for from some tacky billboard ad on the side of a building or the negative ads the parties churn out on TV.

I remember as a child when elections were being held after the six o’clock news, there would be 10 minutes of party political broadcasts. For me the best political advertisement was the National parties 1975 dancing Cossacks, it really was pure genius. 1975 was the height of the cold war, Muldoon had ramped the country up to just about boiling point with his ‘reds under every bed’. From there it was easy for Muldoon to make the connection to Labours compulsory super fund, and the Soviet Union and communism. The television ad cemented in voters’ minds what Muldoon had been saying was true. With the help of the TV ad, National had a landslide victory, on election day. This TV ad would have to be one of the best political ads in New Zealand history. .

To see the video: (New Zealand History 2013).

How political advertising has changed since the time of the dancing Cossacks?

Bryce Edwards suggests that political advertising has become ‘heavily presidentialised’. (Edwards 2009) This was especially the case in the 2008 election campaign where Helen Clark’s billboard picture was overdone to the extreme. The billboard picture could be easily another person, Helen Clark was vertically unrecognisable, and this helped turn voters off her.

Political advertising can take other forms as well. Tony Abbot the Australian Prime Minister likes nothing better than being photographed in his ‘budgie smugglers’ or doing some form of physical activity. The Russian leader Vladimer Putin also does the same thing, he is photographed doing sports and embracing dangerous activities.


A picture released on March 6, 2010 shows Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin taking a horseback ride in the Karatash area, near the town of Abakan, during his working trip to the Republic of Khakassia, on February 25, 2010. (Alexei Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images)

 see (Taylor 2011)

This form of advertising is better than some billboard on the side of a building, it shows these leaders are strong fit and confident, the perfect candidate to be leader of the country. In advertising you have to have a product, in politics the product is the party, but it mostly centres on the leader of the party. National in the 2005 election campaign went after the leaders of the Labour party in cartoons on TV and billboards. National portrayed Don Brash as smiling and positive, where the opposite was the case for Helen Clark. Labour on the other hand went for a negative campaign,

Edwards’s points out that the Labour party had little to offer voters in new ideas and policies so they went for a slogan ‘don’t put it all at risk’ (Edwards 2009).

Fast forward to 2014 the National party has been in power for two terms. They, like Labour in 2005 are looking old and tired. So the rhetoric coming out of the National government, is very much like Labours was in 2005, don’t vote in, a Labour government, and don’t change what is working i.e. National.

So the slogan ‘don’t put it all at risk’ that Labour used in 2005, will be very much what National will use in the 2014 election. The only bright part of this 2014 election, might be Kim Dotcom’s internet party. The Internet party will use social media and the internet as their main platform for their political advertising.


Kim Dot com himself will be what the party bases there political adverting on, it has already started

“Now Dotcom will launch his album and his new music download site, Baboom, tomorrow, as planned, with an extensive advertising campaign on radio and on the back of more than 100 buses” (Milne 2014).

Having a person like KimDotcom who is larger than life, pardon the pun, connected with your political party is like gold. I’m predicting in this year’s election campaign that the Internet party will bring to New Zealand politics a new way of political advertising that will change in the future how all parties present themselves in the political arena.


Edwards, Bryce. Political adverting in the 2008 NZ election. August 16th, 2009. (accessed May 15th, 2014).

Milne, Johnathan. Irked Dotcom takes a swipe at Key. January 19th, 2014. (accessed May 17th, 2014).

New Zealand History. Dancing Cossacks political TV ad. August 23th, 2013. (accessed May 15th, 2014).

Taylor, Alan. In Focus: Vladimir Putin, Action Man. September 13th, 2011. (accessed May 17th, 2014).


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