The creative brain behind National's 2005 billboard campaign says the party's new ads try to squeeze in too many messages.
John Ansell doubts the new "blue aeroplane" billboards will jolt passing motorists into noticing them.
But he says the new ads fit the new National Party brand perfectly, and says that the Nats probably don't want them to create a stir.
It's a case of "Don't frighten the horses".
Labour needed to make a big hit ad campaign this time - not National, Ansell claims.
The 2005 campaign - most famously the short, sharp, succinct Iwi/Kiwi billboard which suggested Labour was caught up in a Maori perspective - had left-wing bloggers squealing, saying they were divisive, but were applauded by some National supporters and among some voters.
Ansell says the first of the 2008 billboards reflect that the National Party brand in 2008 is very different to what it was in 2005.
The brand for the new John Key National Party was to be modern, positive and non-threatening, he said.
The new ads feature planes and the cumbersome message "Wave Goodbye to Higher Taxes and Not Your Loved Ones".
It's subjective of course but the first word that came to mind when this reporter saw the new billboard was "wallpaper".
Ansell was wary of critiquing the first of the new billboards.
"I don't want to appear a tosser," he said.
"But personally, I think it's a little bit over designed - so that focus groups have more things to say "Yes" to. I'm not sure it will jolt people as they drive past. And the blue aeroplanes? It is the modern Mac (Apple MacIntosh) designer style."
But it has four messages on it and that makes it hard to be noticed.
"I think every blob of ink needs to justify its presence - I'm not sure we needed the corporal stripes pointing to National.
"You have got to be brave and you have to do something quite different for people to interrupt their lives.
"It's a bit churlish, but in some ways the billboard reference to tax cuts played into Labour's tax cuts (which are set to put on October 1).
"But it is early days and that can be easily fixed.
"My approach would be to put up a billboard on October 1. It would say: 'Want a bigger tax cut - vote National'."
Labour has been open about its adman Fraser Carson. But who is the creative brain behind the National's Blue Aeroplanes campaign? National is still secret squirrel about its election advisers and campaign manager Steven Joyce did not return calls.
The Business Herald understands that a key creative talent for the Nats is Glenn Jameson, a creative director at the freelance advertising bureau The Pond, and who has an impressive CV working in New Zealand, the UK and the US.
Jameson did not return calls and The Pond office referred Business Herald queries to Joyce.
Jameson says on the Pond website that he has had stints at Draft FCB, DDB and most recently as creative director at Republik.
He says in his profile that his talent is to "find truth in bullshit".
Jameson loves philosophy and appears to be attracted to the Right.
He is is an admirer of the individualist writer Ayn Rand.
His loves include his children "and me".
He advises prospective clients to read Rand's The Virtue of Selfishness "and you'll love Me too".
DEATH BY COMMITTEE
Ansell said that political advertising campaigns were difficult and many ad agencies did not understand them.
There was the danger of a decision being made by committees, though. Joyce - the National campaign manager in 2005 and this year and now a candidate - had fought for his ideas against National's strategy committee.
He doubted National advisers Crosby Textor - which worked for the party in 2005 - had a role in ads.
"When I was there in 2005 they came out with a dreadful idea," he said.
They wanted the slogan to be "Taking the issues of mainstream New Zealand".
"I threatened to resign I was so worried people would think it was my idea."
Crosby Textor advisers were mostly good, he said.
But sometimes they were "Aussie-centric" and referred to the National Party here as "The Nationals" the term used for the National Party in Australia.
GOLDSACK TO BLIGHTY
One of this country's most respected admen is leaving the industry and New Zealand to take up private business interests in the United Kingdom.
After 38 years in the advertising industry here and in Australia, Y & R Advertising New Zealand chief executive Ross Goldsack is to run the UK office of Yacht Lifeline - which he is part owner of - making medical kits for superyachts, many of which ply the Mediterranean.
The company is headquartered in New Zealand but has offices in Palma, Majorca and in London where Goldsack will be based. At 56, he is one of the most respected people in the local advertising business and looked after the New Zealand interests of Y & R's parent WPP in this market.
Goldsack - who started at Ogilvy as an 18-year-old - worked with some of the big names in New Zealand such as Illots and Ingles Wright (which became DDB). He formed his own ad agency Goldsack Harris and Thompson, then joined Y & R in 1999.
Goldsack says New Zealand "boxes above its weight" with creative work because the lack of bureaucracy means that good ad ideas don't get stifled.
He said the greatest issue nowadays is the number of talented people who were being drawn overseas.
The industry was working on training to ensure there were enough. Underlying the New Zealand industry is the idea of top talent breaking away from their own agency before being bought out by one of the multinationals.
That still applied but Goldsack said the demand for these companies was cyclical and the prices being paid were lower than they had been 10 to 15 years ago. He agreed that on television there was a smaller proportion of standout commercials.
But he said this was partly because of the fact that less money was being spent on TV and more creative activity was going into new areas like digital.
Yellow Pages Group has bought a 60 per cent stake in the GrownUps website and says it is looking at acquiring more digital media companies in the future.
The purchase of the website - aimed at the 50-plus generation - for an undisclosed sum is part of a major online development for the Yellow Pages Group and part of a trend to use editorial content.
Yellow Pages said that it was planning to buy other digital media.
Digital director Blair Glubb says research shows the more content you can provide in the context of an advertiser's listing, the better the response rates.
The focus for GrownUps was lifestyle, travel, health and finance.
"What we bring is brand and sales reach and huge online reach. You want your stuff to be syndicated quickly."