Electoral signs and broadcasts

Derek Cheng reports:

Their opponents are calling it desperate opportunism, but the Labour Party insists their black billboards are nothing more than a clever way to show support for the All Blacks.

One can show support by blogging about the team. Spending a large proportion of your limited campaign budget on billboards about the All Blacks is about politics, not sports.

About 40 billboards around Auckland and Wellington have recently popped up with white lettering on a black background: “When things look black, we’re at our best.”

Below that in red letters is: “Go the boys.”

The billboard has been mocked on right-wing blogsite Kiwiblog as desperate, and Labour’s campaign spokesman Grant Robertson was not shy about the link to the national rugby team.

“There’s multiple layers of meaning. We want to show some support for the All Blacks.”

The message was not meant to convey that Labour was close to toast this election, he said. “We’re facing a significant challenge. We recognise that. We think we can win.

“People shouldn’t be reading deeply into the tea leaves … We’re showing support for the All Blacks while having a light-hearted poke at ourselves at the same time. …

The billboards were put up within hours of being conceived, but Mr Robertson did not have the exact cost of the billboards.

Labour are trying to have you believe that this was almost done on a whim. First of all I seriously doubt any billboards were up within hours of being conceived. I’ve stuck billboards up and you need to generally get artwork in days in advance so skins can be produced, and then dried off. And then after that specialists have to put the billboards up.

As for the costs, the minimum tends to be $2,000 a month. Some sites can get close to $5,000 a month. And ballpark production costs are $1,000 per board to produce the skin and stick it up. So those 40 billboards would have costed Labour around $120,000. So they have spent $120,000 not on promoting their key messages or policies, but in trying to associate themselves with the All Blacks.

Prime Minister John Key’s DJ shows are likely to come under close scrutiny after Labour complaints to the Electoral Commission about a radio segment he hosted last week.

Mr Key hosted an hour-long programme on RadioLive on Friday. It included interviews with a number of celebrities including Sir Peter Jackson and Richie McCaw.

During the show, Mr Key told listeners the hour was an “election-free zone”, and spent the time discussing issues ranging from his cat to Coronation St.

At the time, a spokeswoman for the PM said the station had stipulated the hour had to be free of politics, after advice from the Electoral Commission that political content could breach election rules.

However, the Labour Party is arguing that his stint still broke the rules and yesterday lodged complaints with the Electoral Commission and the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

The PM went out of his way to refuse to talk politics on the show, specifically to avoid it being an election programme.

I actually think Radio Live should have given Phil Goff a one hour show also. Never mind that no one would call in!

UPDATE: The media story referred to billboards. Trevor Mallard has pointed out they are hoardings not billboards. In that case, my cost and time estimates are not correct. Billboards are 18 (and up to 60) square metres in size and are printed on special skins. They need to be put up by specialist crews. A hoarding or yard sign of up to three square metres and is on corflute and get erected on temporary structures or attached to fences.

The terms “billboard” and “hoarding” should not be interchangeable!

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