“Let’s Get Together”: National’s Campaign Video Ticks All The Boxes

By   /   July 21, 2017  /   41 Comments

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George Orwell argued that power is defined by the ability to inflict pain. It is, therefore, vital that those who wield decisive power in our society be insulated from the social pain that secures it. To preserve their dominance we, the vast majority of citizens, must be persuaded that the people in charge are just like us – ordinary, decent Kiwis. And that all will be well in our beloved country so long as enough ordinary, decent Kiwis “get together” – and vote for the National Party.

THE NATIONAL PARTY’S first campaign video  of the 2017 election campaign has been released – and it’s brilliant. The American political scientist, Anat Shenker-Osorio, posits three basic rules for creating effective party political propaganda: 1. Engage the Base. 2. Persuade the Middle. 3. Alienate the Opposition. National’s ad’, “Let’s Get Together”, ticks all the boxes – and then some.

I say “and then some” because, when it comes to the Third Rule, I’m not sure that National hasn’t done something truly remarkable.

Certainly, there will be a large number of New Zealanders who will react extremely negatively to “Let’s Get Together”. Progressive voters who hate Country & Western music, for a start, will be particularly repelled. Because, that’s right, the whole thing is held together by a song that would definitely score well at Gore’s Gold Guitar Awards. Metropolitan Millennials, similarly, might struggle with all that country goodness: too many green fields and misty skies. (Although, you never know.) Tribal haters of National will, naturally, dismiss the whole video as appalling.

But there will be others, progressives of long standing, who look at the video and experience a subversive yearning to step into the warm circle of its appeal. Who ask themselves why Labour is no longer able to produce something so evocative of what it means to be a Kiwi. Baby Boomers who recall the Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s hit single “Your Turn Now” that became Labour’s 1969 anthem.  Remembering, too, the amazing montage of images laid over the soundtrack by a young adman called Bob Harvey.

Making your opponents wish, if only for a second, that they could join you is, surely, the most sophisticated form of alienation!

How have National’s admen done it? How have they made a video that, if all the sequences featuring Bill English were replaced with shots of Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern, would serve equally well for the Labour Party? The answer is disarmingly simple: they have hidden from the viewer every aspect of the last nine years of National-led government that could possibly be considered cruel, incompetent or corrupt. Presented, instead, is an unrelentingly positive view of National’s New Zealand.

When all of the trigger words and visual cues have done their work, a depressingly large number of viewers will find it difficult to resist the conclusion that, all things considered, National hasn’t done too bad a job of governing New Zealand.

Interestingly, exactly the same propaganda techniques are on display in the sixteen-year-old video produced to accompany conservative American Country & Western star, Alan Jackson’s, single “It’s Alright To Be A Redneck”.

Directed by Steven Goldmann, the video opens with a little girl addressing her classmates on the vexing question of whether a redneck is “a good person or a bad person”. Jackson then delivers Bill Kenner’s and Pat McLaughlin’s song with, in the words of one critic, “a kind of good ole boy charm that works”. As he does so, Goldmann presents the viewer with a series of entrancing social vignettes encompassing the whole of American society – as if to say: “Hey, being a redneck, and being a hard-working, fun-loving and patriotic American, is pretty much the same thing.” If, at some point between the recording’s release in 2001 and his election as President in 2016, Donald Trump hasn’t sung along with Alan Jackson, I’d be very surprised.

In the hands of another videographer, of course, Jackson’s single might have been illustrated very differently. We could have seen the remains of the African-American dragged to his death behind a pick-up truck in Texas. Or, been shown scene-of-the-crime photographs of the young gay man crucified on a barbed-wire fence in Montana. Or viewed the grainy footage of paramedics comforting a teenage rape victim in Little Rock. Would Jackson’s “good ole boy charm” have had the same disarming effect when accompanied by images of what rednecks are really famous for? Probably not.

George Orwell argued that power is defined by the ability to inflict pain. It is, therefore, vital that those who wield decisive power in our society be insulated from the social pain that secures it. To preserve their dominance we, the vast majority of citizens, must be persuaded that the people in charge are just like us – ordinary, decent Kiwis. And that all will be well in our beloved country so long as enough ordinary, decent Kiwis “get together” – and vote for the National Party.

Oh yeah, in all kinds of weather

Yeah, yeah, never say never

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah – we will endeavour

Let’s get together now

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41 Comments

  1. Mike the Lefty says:

    If New Zealanders actually do ‘get together”, that would be the end of the National government.
    So it isn’t hard to interpret it as a subliminal message for only the “worthy” (aka National supporters) to get together.
    The rest of us can get f….d.

  2. Castro says:

    But it’s bifurcating, Chris. There’s the Haves (homeowners) and the Have Nots. In the same way that Anoinette’s ability to inflict pain was ended by the proletariat with their ability to inflict the greatest pain (death), so too, will this come to pass in No Zealand.

  3. Tiger Mountain says:

    heh, c’mon fellow car dwellers, working poor, alienated, exploited workers, and otherwise oppressed, lets get together!! but NOT to vote National…

  4. esoteric pineapples says:

    This is a government propped up by a babyboomer generation insulated from the realities of life for everyone else by the fact that they paid their mortgage off years ago. The old-school values they believe in like egalitarianism are now fake but they are cushioned from this reality. The next truly progressive and even revolutionary government may not come to New Zealand till a good percentage of the baby boomer generation have gone to their graves.

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      EP’

      Not so fast please.

      I bought my house for $34K in 1974 and NOW owe $140.000 on it because we had to mortgage to pay for medical needs now!!!!!!!.

      I am a poor disabled 73yr old man that honestly have spent my life “paying it forward,” anyone who knows me knows I am always helping the underdog.

      So please don’t tar us with that broad brush please!!!!

      We worked hard to get were we are and still are poor relatively by others today, but remember our generation grew up during the egalitarian after war generation that was a low wage economy also so buying a house was a big deal then and most didn’t buy.

      There are a lot of very poor “baby-boomers out there today not doing very well at all, despite what the media would have us believe.

    • mary_a says:

      @ EP … Go wash your mouth out!

      We are a couple of progressive left leaning babyboomers in this household and most definitely will not ever prop up this odious corrupt government. And believe me, there are plenty more of us out there of the same mind. So please don’t lump all of our generation into the category of being Natz supporters, because a good majority of us would much rather be struck down, than vote Natz!

      If we are able to help in any way to take NZ forward once more to a total egalitarian society before we turn our toes up, then we feel our job will have been done.

      Two Labour/Greens votes coming up here in September, more towards a Green slant.

  5. Shona says:

    The stomach churning image of getting together with an arsehole like Bill English( can’t produce a surplus runs country into the ground and abuses kiwis for being druggies)is more than I can bear Chris. A most unbonkable male English has all the appeal of a freshly laid dog turd. The singer of the irritating patronizing song ( i have no objection to the style ) accompanying the vid is grating after a short while the people at the Natzi conference are NOT representative of the people actually doing the effing work in the action shots. Yeah nah. Bleeech!
    Slick like oil.

  6. Matthew says:

    I have only watched this video without sound, and a few images stuck out. A person picking an apple is a strange choice given the coverage of seasonal worker abuse (although those workers probably can’t vote so under National policy are as invisible as prisoners denied their democratic right); the barista at the flash establishment (one of many owned by one of these groups that own everything), likely to be on little more than minimum (i.e. unliving) wage should surely not be so smiley at the prospect of more of this salary repression; and why is Bill not serving his “famous” insult to pizza at the family dinner?
    Bare in mind I am a Progressive Metropolitan (slightly pre-) Millenial with a preference of Alt Country and a Che Guevara tattoo (done after reading his biography and visiting Cuba, so not the F#*% you and your Che Guevara type). Subversion to the dark side will not be so easy. We can only hope that voters are more complex than a Ren & Stimpy montage, although after Teflon Johnkey (a doubly official traitor now with a Monarchy award and an Australian award) was considered charismatic, that hope may be misplaced. I wonder if that is a fault with the education system, are we teaching kids that charismatic means slimy, soul-less and anti-intellectual?

  7. Afewknowthetruth says:

    1. The song points out that ‘mother nature can be as mean as hell] and that ‘she’s been ringing our bell, i.e. telling us in no uncertain terms that what we have been doing is totally unsustainable and destructive, and we are going to pay an enormous price for persisting with present economic arrangements.

    Needless to say, National policy will continue to be focused on looting and polluting the environment as quickly as possible, lying to everyone, and ensuring no provisions whatsoever are made for what will occur over the next decade.

    2. Since National is also firmly locked into denial of reality with respect to the global peaking of oil extraction around 2007 and the prospect of unconventional oil failing to support current living arrangements quite soon, we should look forward to National being retuned to government and running round like chickens without heads when the shit hits the fan from 2018 on.

    Needless to say, the bilk of the populace remains oblivious of what is on the horizon (or in denial), and a large portion will vote for their own destruction at the next election.

  8. savenz says:

    The National party have no words in their video, that is because there is nothing good to say about the past 9 years where they have wrecked havoc on the country and left a massive mess for someone to clean up or just shove under the carpet. Soon like Muldoon they will bankrupt NZ – the Ponzi scheme will come to a head.

    Agree with could be a Labour add, but in many ways the Labour add could be a National add with Bill English instead of Andrew Little. Labour need to step up the differences with National and reveal not only the rot that has set in under National but a vision of a much better country for most New Zealanders (not just the poor and working class).

    NZ is still a rich country with many people feeling pretty good about their personal situation but knowing that things are not right in NZ – it’s gathering those people up as well that Labour need to do.

    Show the teachers and the police and the doctors, Labour and a vision of a better country for all, world leading, not just a bit more ambulance on the bottom.

  9. Aaron says:

    So can someone re-edit the video with new images showing people living in cars and that sort of thing?

    Surely there’s an opportunity there…

    • e-clectic says:

      Exactly

      • OncewasTim says:

        Sure as hell is….unfortunately i’m low on technological devices at the moment. BUGGER!
        (MAINLY because I’m having a purge and getting ready to fuck off if the Gnats get a 4th term)
        I’d have loved to have done some election campaign vids:
        Maori Pary to a Fox strumming 10 guitars
        NZ1 to the tune of ‘a Win Away a Win Away….in the Jungle the Lion sleeps tonight.

      • OncewasTim says:

        Sure as hell is….unfortunately i’m low on technological devices at the moment. BUGGER!
        (MAINLY because I’m having a purge and getting ready to fuck off if the Gnats get a 4th term)
        I’d have loved to have done some election campaign vids:
        Maori Pary to a Fox strumming 10 guitars
        NZ1 to the tune of ‘a Win Away a Win Away….in the Jungle the Lion sleeps tonight.

  10. swordfish says:

    Certainly an uphill battle.

    Andrew Little’s gonna have to pull out all the stops to try & match the National leader’s smoking-hot sex appeal with women voters. It’s easily forgotten that Bill English was one of the most notorious & dangerously seductive film stars of the 1970s German porn industry. In those days, of course, he was simply known by his original German name Wilhelm Engels (or more suggestively, within the industry, “Big Willy” Engels).

    As a result, all those saucy little ‘come hither’ looks to camera in this campaign ad are almost automatic, they just come naturally to Bill – with women consequently drawn to him like moths to a flame.

    Engels, of course, radically re-invented himself in the 80s moving Down-under, anglicising his name, affecting a kiwi drawl, and what better way to hide his somewhat unsavoury past than to invent a conservative rural Christian backstory, deep in the Southland backblocks.

    That’s what Little’s up against.

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      This National campaign video reeks of admiration and confidence that National are trying to instill among us as a feel good policy in the swing voter.

      This comes at a very well timed presentation just as we all have sen and some have been vocal on the left and centre left as leveling a vocal tirade of hate directly at our potential coalition partners.

      Martyn Bradbury – our editor has been especially vitriolic at attacking NZ First and to a lesser degree at Labour of late in particular.

      Better get our “Get together” shit together then eh???

      Then Chris;

      http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/335486/nz-fifth-highest-for-life-satisfaction-in-oecd

      QUOTE:
      NZ fifth-highest for ‘life satisfaction’ in OECD
      6:03 pm on 20 July 2017

      Life satisfaction in New Zealand is high and most of us feel a strong sense of belonging to our families, according to figures released today by Stats NZ.

      All this was today just been given an extra helping of “National Propaganda” survey again using your and my tax money with the release of the latest poll of public satisfaction the Government just released showing this survey showing that over 80% of us apparently are feeling good about our current disposition!!!!!!!
      UNQUOTE:

      WARNING; PEOPLE OUT THERE, WE NEED THE SAME SHOW OF UNITY OF PURPOSE.

      We had best now resist any more vitriolic attacks on NZ First/Labour, and refrain from serving self inspired attacks against our coalition partners from now on eh Martyn!!!!!

    • WILD KATIPO says:

      LOLOLOL !

      Errr , Ahem.

      No sex , please , – we’re British !

      We don’t go in for all that sort of carry on around here.

  11. WILD KATIPO says:

    For the person with only a casual interest in things political perhaps all those green fields, happy faces and tractors may give them a short feel good buzz…

    But the real circumstances of some very very dire situations are starting to fast peculate through even the MSM and into peoples living rooms now… I think it will take more than a cheesy ad for National to save them from the mounting suspicion they and their policy’s are the ones ultimately responsible…

    People are seeing this,…

    I would suggest this ,… an ad based on something the Salvation Army might make , photo shots of poverty… the other 30 seconds dedicated to fixing those issues, – then in come the sunny blue sky’s, the upbeat vocals, the smiling faces , the message on how…

    Doing that would lay to waste the sheer cheesiness of the National ad.

    Because why?

    The opposition can do that type of ad but National for obvious reasons cannot. They would be shooting themselves in the foot if they even tried.

    Hell… I would even include a version on Eddie Van Halens ‘Eruption’ … to mark the contrast between the two… at least for the first two or three stanza’s…

    Eddie Van Halen – Eruption – YouTube
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sI7XiJgt0vY

  12. Thanks Chris for getting a typical Nats ad on to a left wing blog site, thereby improving their hit rate. I expect to see your comments picked up by Kiwi Blog with the headline ‘Leftwinger [?] praises Nats brilliant ad. Can we expect more of the same in the near future?

    We should not forget how the same company that organised May’s campaign are yet again at it here in NZ. Their success in the UK was obvious by its failure.

    • Keepcalmcarryon says:

      Don’t hate the messenger. The add is slick and well done, unlike 9 years of their actual government.
      I wonder what the best tactic for the left would be: would going hard negative be a winning strategy? God knows the nats need it thrown in their faces our media are bought and paid. The left trying to just talk about positive differences seems to let the nats off the hook too much- but would getting negative switch off too many voters ?

      • CLEANGREEN says:

        That is the best question today; KEEPCALMCARRYON

        “I wonder what the best tactic for the left would be”:?

        We hope the greens give their ‘prowess’ input after their “Hit out of the Park” bold press release this week.

        I’m no longer a Green Party member since 2003, but the current mob may some help here to answer that question or plan the election video.

        We await the next “Hit out of the park” from them at least!!!!

  13. Dialey says:

    Nearly all white faces, and the opening shot of a very upmarket home that is out of the range of ordinary folk

    • savenz says:

      Hey, DIALEY, whadayamean? Asian students and Indian fruit pickers, all is well represented in National’s world view.

      They couldn’t exactly show the offshore corporate interests that increasingly own our assets now under National’s rule could they?

      A better representation is Bright Food Group, Shanghai Maling owning 1/2 Silver Fern Farms, the growing supply chain and farms of Fonterra being sold off and the fisheries quota holders leasing foreign vessels to catch their allowance on their behalf mostly probably using slave labour, below minimum wages and illegal fish dumping. Not to mention Cadbury closing down in Dunedin with a loss of 350 jobs and some clever accounting deals of that.

      • CLEANGREEN says:

        100% SAVE NZ.

        “there’s always two sides to the story” – but Nat’a wont show this fact.

  14. Grant says:

    Once again I think you are romancing a tad…
    I read your blog first before watching the propaganda video and going by your description was expecting a wave of nostalgia to envelop me….I was underwhelmed to say the least….it was about as corny and cheesy as you can get.
    I think Bill English’s grimace at the end says it all really…it said to me …there you go suckers.Believe this rubbish and you’ll believe anything…
    Dna National voters on the whole are a shallow superficial breed and not renowned deep thinkers, so this will probably do the job for them…but..I think this ad is going to backfire badly, because one thing Kiwis don’t like is someone taking the piss when they know full well that the real stories behind the images being portrayed are very different to reality.
    Showing fitter and turners and welders after National foolishly and shortsighted closed down the Railway workshops in Dunedin….taking the piss
    Fruit pickers who have been ripped off by being underpaid and poorly housed…taking the piss
    Christchurch rebuild or lack thereof after 7 years….taking the piss
    All this pathetic piece of propaganda has done has given the opposition a great counterpoint to leverage off…Thank you National.

  15. This genuinely kiwi ‘National Anthem’ song may resonate a little more with some of your readers & commentators?

    Although I recorded it with a German friend as a demo in Berlin way back in 1988, I wrote it in 1986. Back then I was an exotic kiwi living in West Berlin known as John Raven.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9WbTqw5cQw

    So maybe now’s the right time to ‘rap it up’ a bit & sell it too a political party.

    M.O.

    • savenz says:

      @ KEEPCALMCARRYON from this link ” Its latest addition to the 100% Pure canon attracted headlines over a horrifying scene in which a tourist cups river water in her hands and lifts them to her lips – an evocation of New Zealand that is, almost literally, bullshit.

      The political subversive who made the thing has delivered a bleak critique of the state of the nation: a bitterly satirical reminder of just how dangerous it is to drink river water – an activity almost as risky as, say, blowing the whistle on corruption in the public sector.

      If the opposition parties knew what they were doing they’d reveal the unscreened sequel for their next ad: tourist stuck in traffic on road to hospital; tourist retching in queue at A&E; tourist unable to find motel accommodation because they’ve been co-opted for emergency accommodation. Could be huge. And word is Katie and Cuba are available.”

  16. Andy K says:

    Some ridiculously awful sappy imagery, the child with the puppy on their lap the prime example.

    Amusing how a slogan with inclusive connotations coupled with this video becomes exclusionary; more of a plea to the faithful to get together at the ballot box to preserve the privileged bubble they live in.

  17. XRAY says:

    Never ever let an opportunity go by to praise National when nothing but condemnation is deserved and then put the boot into Labour.

    Trotter, Hooten, Slater, Farrar, et al.

    .

  18. WILD KATIPO says:

    Hahaha… Toby Manhire in today’s NZ Herald….

    … ” No sign of a New Zealand First ad yet this time around, but they hardly need it – aboard his battle-bus chariot, Winston Peters is a living, breathing promotional masterclass.

    Set against the pallid figures of English and Little, here is a human jukebox, letting rip variously at the shiny bums, the skidmarks and smart alec, arrogant, quiche eating, chardonnay drinking, pinky finger pointing fart blossoms.

    He’s even started going on extended Twitter rants lately, and denouncing “fake news”. But while it’s true that there are performative similarities between Peters and the man who actually became American President, our guy is the original.

    He’s been haranguing the press since Richard Nixon was in the White House. In the absence of any 2017 election ad, I’ve been watching some of NZ First’s party political broadcasts from the previous century. Among the slogans: Make New Zealand Great Again ” …

    L0L0L0L0L !

    • Iain Mclean says:

      Wild Katipo;

      ” No sign of a New Zealand First ad yet this time around,”

      Maybe I can help.

      “I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution,
      Take a bow for the new revolution.

      Smile and grin at the change all around,
      Pick up my guitar and play,

      Just like yesterday

      Then I’ll get on my knees and pray…
      “WON”T GET FOOLED AGAIN !!”
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXrmQBPg2s0
      Read lyrics.
      The big power cords lend itself nicely for corresponding power images.
      Zap,zap.!

      Even better an ANTHEM ! (With careful edit of last two lines.)
      Play it loud Frank. Go on,I know you can do it.

      Zap!zap! YEEAAHH.!!!!!!

      Cheers.
      Where’s Winston…

  19. OncewasTim says:

    I cudn’t possibly watch the thing,,, but a Patsy Klein Stan by Urrrrrrrr Man! Kind of thing springs to mind

  20. PB says:

    I see what Trotter is saying, but don’t really think it can stand against the counter narrative of what people are experiencing. It looks like head in the sand stuff.

    It will be good for the base, but I’m not sure anyone else is so easily wooed. THe metthink of “What – this is your push when so much is clearly wring?” even if people are only aware of a couple of things – will sit uneasily and leave people looking for alternatives.

    There is no acknowledgment of the hardship being suffered, and that is a mistake.

  21. EE says:

    I recognise that tune.
    What a shame they didn’t keep the original lyrics.
    And when will Bob sue?

    “You Ain’t Going Nowhere”
    https://youtu.be/s2JnDKvuNzw

  22. Kim dandy says:

    Will anyone under 30 even see it? In fact does anyone bother with adverts anymore, especially political ones.

  23. peterlepaysan says:

    Referen ..to obscure US academics is irrelevant.

    The nat ad is aimed directly at their own electorate base.

    The nats have no interest in promoting social equity, it does not fund political funds. Capitalists do provide lots of funds in return for favourable policies.

    roger douglas et al eviscerated labour’s electorate base. This abandoned, disillusioned electorate base were not going to trust labour again very easily.

    The widening gap between the haves have nots is patent in house and rent prices.

    There are business leaders who are acutely aware that that a well fed, healthy, housed, educated and well paid customer base is relevant to having a mirror image business.

    national is running scared, it should be, it is led by a treasury robot.

    So far both labour and the greens are trying to tap into that (abandoned) electorate. That unengaged electorate is what is going to determine this election and some awakening nat voters.

    The nats do not want their voters to wake up, that is why the ad is so sopoforic.

    OBTW the so called neo lib bs was set out in chapter one of a basic first year text I had to study in my first year at university, in 1961. Later chapters raised questions.

    Apparently our Treasury Phds, and Ma 1stclass hons, never got past the first chapter.

  24. kappanz says:

    I left the US to get away from cuntry music. SHEEE-IT, It’s here too and being used on behalf of the same arseholes as Bush and Drumpf.