If she is wearing your threads, Cabinet rules allow designers to cash in on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on social media. But they must call her the Labour leader, or only by her name – not refer to her ministerial warrant.
Ardern, an avid follower of New Zealand fashion, has spent time in the front row at New Zealand Fashion Week, and is friendly with a few local designers.
Luxury clothing label Harman Grubiša was called on by the Prime Minister to create her outfit to meet the French president Emmanuel Macron. They have used the images of Ardern in their clothes to promote their brand across their company’s social media accounts.
And jewellery designer Cathy Pope has also used Ardern’s image in social media accounts.
A spokeswoman said that where the Prime Minister’s Office learnt that her image was being used in such a way, they would ask for such marketing to be stopped. Often that meant simply tweaking the language so it was not seen as her endorsing whatever the product is.
But on Sunday, both companies were still displaying Ardern’s image wearing their clothes, identifying her in her capacity as prime minister.
It can be a fine line between promoting and endorsing.
But political pundit David Farrar says the use of her image is not quite cut and dry.
The Cabinet Manual, which sets out rules for Ministers of the Crown, talks about endorsements of products and services. Photos of a minister may not be used to endorse a product.
Farrar acknowledged the designers should not be expected to know the rules set down in the Cabinet Manual. “It’s a bit ridiculous to say you can’t use photographs of her wearing clothes. You need to wear clothes every day. I suspect the Royal Family run into this problem all the time,” he said.
“It’s a hard one to police, but having said that there may be implicit endorsement coming through.”
Farrar noted that all that may be needed is a tweak to language – the title of “prime minister” should not be mentioned, but the name “Jacinda Ardern” still can be.
Stuff approached me on this story. I actually semi-defended the PM and said that she can’t stop designers highlighting the fact she may be wearing their clothes.
I also said there is a line between wanting to promote NZ brands overseas, however not endorse a particular company in the NZ domestic market (as that is unfair to their competitors).
In the end all that may be needed is for the PMO or DPMC to ask those companies using her image, to make clear it is not an endorsement. I know this has happened in the past.