Espiner on photo gaffe

Colin Espiner covers the photo gaffe fairly:

As Kiwi as apple pie? Labour’s photo gaffe is just one more embarrassment the didn’t need at the moment.

Prime Helen Clark’s right when she says the fact that Labour used an American family to represent it in an advertisement promoting the Budget is “a storm in a teacup”.

After all, the fact that Labour uses clipart and stock images in its advertising is hardly a revelation. Most advertising agencies lean heavily on stock images. They’re much cheaper, and more convenient than setting up a photo shoot every time you want to produce an advertisement.

Newspapers and magazines use them all the time when they are looking for a generic shot to illustrate a story. And there’s nothing wrong with it.

But political parties need to be extra careful, particularly when they are using powerful images of families on advertising in an election year. …

But as a politics watcher it intrigues me because it tells me that Labour is no longer looking after the basics. It’s politics 101 to double-check pictures and artwork and testimonials used in political advertising. All political parties have (or should have) fixers whose job it is to make sure that, if a family picture is used in adverts, they are A: New Zealanders B: supporters of the policy being advertised, and C: not convicted criminals or child molesterers.

The brochure story is a storm in a tea cup. But it also neatly illustrates how Labour is no longer the well-oiled political machine it once was.

One of my first jobs in Parliament was putting our propaganda publications and certainly some of those used library stock images. In fact on occasion one would deliberately used an overseas photo so one wouldn’t have the problem that the person pictured in it would turn out to be an opponent of the Government. Hillary had this problem when the young girl in her 3 am TV ad turned out to now be a young student was an activist for Obama!

But generally one would only use overseas photos for non important background images. If for example there is a pamphlet on health care, you might want a dozen medical themed photos in a montage and some may be from overseas.

If the photo is the centrepiece of the main Budget publicity pamphlet, then we would go local. Our preference generally was photos actually taken by a staff member was out with the PM as we knew the background to the photo and who to contact in terms of the subjects in there.

I also recall some hilarious discussions when we found out (before publication) that the photo of a happy Maori family were in fact Hawaiian! Yes, it got changed in time.

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