Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Uninspiring election billboards panned

Election billboards located around Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell
Election billboards located around Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell

Uninspiring election billboards have been panned by a design expert, who described them as more suited to wallpaper designs than vote-snaggers.

A sea of earnest faces and cliched pitches have dotted major thoroughfares as candidates chased glory ahead of yesterday's local body elections. Some billboards have suffered graffiti, others have been bashed to the ground. Many more have suffered perhaps a worse fate - they have simply been ignored.

Dow Design group account director Simon Wedde was among those unimpressed with this election's offerings.

"It's all pretty head shots. Phil Goff's whole brand is his experience and ability to work with people. Why wouldn't you have a photo of him shaking hands with John Key ... showing his connections. And Vic Crone is all about her business experience. Why wouldn't she have a photo of herself in a boardroom?

"You want to try and tell a story about that experience. They are just lacking in any kind of storytelling ...

it's just become wallpaper."

He even advocated photo-less billboards. That left more room for candidates' names to be big and bold. His reason? There are no photos on ballot papers, only names.

Another way to tell a story was to link a major issue with the billboard. Those staked at traffic choke points should connect people to the very issue they were dealing with at that moment, Wedde said.

"Wouldn't it be really smart to have a picture of a traffic jam and the words, 'Are you tired of this?' You're contextually telling a story."

There was even the possibility billboards were not the best way to appeal to voters, Wedde said.

Rising star Chloe Swarbrick, whose bold campaign for Auckland mayor captured widespread attention, made effective use of social media to tell her story and build her brand. The 22-year-old had also used street posters, rather than billboards.

"That in itself is interesting and creative. It's in tune with her brand as a youthful and creative thinker. The secret is working out what is your distinctive point of view, which is what branding is about.

"What motivated Crone to leave a high-profile job and jump into the cesspit of local politics? The same goes for Phil Goff. Why did he want to leave national politics for local politics? It's all beige. We need to get behind the image to the real person."

- Herald on Sunday

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