Clare Robinson from the Massey University Institute of Communication Design looks at whether political party logos are election advertisements under the Electoral Finance Act. She concludes they are.
Conforming to the first part of the definition, a logo is a symbol that may be constituted out of words and/or graphics. It is the most condensed form of graphic image and contains many layers of meaning communicated through the use of colour, type and line.
A logo is also persuasive, thereby conforming to the second part of the definition of an election advertisement. Persuasion does not have to be a literal or loud call to action.
Claire explains further:
Like commercial logos, political party logos work by repeated exposure and association with people, events and messages that have as their fundamental purpose to attract reinforce, convert and/or mobilise voter behaviour.
The party logo encapsulates the essence of the party. When voters enter the ballot box and are confronted with the party logo on the ballot sheet, they retrieve their feelings about that party and make a choice to give that party their tick – or not, if the feelings are negative.
So what are the implications:
Once it is acknowledged that a party logo is an advertisement, the implications are immense. Every instance of that logo must be accompanied by the name and address of the promoter, and the expenses that went into its creation must be counted against a party’s expenditure limit. Think about where you might have seen party logos already this year. On stationery, cars, electorate offices, pens, backdrops at party conferences, banners.
Oh dear. Common sense again is the loser.