Advertisements are everywhere. Even the safety instructions on aeroplanes have long since become subsumed to viral ambition.

Sometimes those Air NZ videos are brilliant. And other times they feature Katie Holmes and Cuba Gooding Jr, who were presumably chosen for their qualities of being available, within budget, and willing to inexplicably dress up as angels.

Political parties, too, dream that their ads will go viral. Given they tend to be designed by committee and risk-averse, the place they usually go, however, is nowhere - apart from the Facebook pages of people who would share the thing even if it were 90 seconds of white noise.

The first slew of these election ads are out already - with two months to go it's too early for TV commercials, so just online for now - and they offer a reasonable guide to the mantras the parties will be preaching over the coming weeks.


The National Party's debut effort, Let's Get Together, may remind you of another New Zealand instant classic, Melodrama. While Lorde's new album loosely tells the story of one night, the National ad loosely tells the story of one day, just without the interesting lyrics or good music.

Let's Get Together is a grimmer, cheaper Toyota ad vision of New Zealand. Mostly, the people wear serious expressions, as if they understand what's at stake this election.

They are hard at work, or shopping, or running, or sitting around a campfire, or having a good night out at a National Party rally with chilled-out entertainer Bill English.

"Let's get together" goes the gravelly voice over the guitar, in a dangerous flirtation with communism, before discovering helpful rhymes including "weather", "never" and "endeavour".

It's not a very good song, but full marks for not resembling any American hip-hop hits. If anything this is more Pak'nSave than Eminem.

There are no lyrics in Labour's first effort: just Andrew Little introducing himself over some warbly backing track. In a clever bit of subtext, the ad makes reference to the party's extensive research into the future of work.

That study explored the potential for robots to take our jobs, and here a robot performs the part of Labour leader Andrew Little, who speaks in sentences no human would use, as he introduces us to his wife, his son, his dog and his medical history.

He doesn't introduce us to Jacinda Ardern, who stands cheerfully beside him through much of the ad - still raw at her out-rating him in the preferred PM polls, I guess.


We end with the Labour strapline for 2017: "A fresh approach". It's the kind of slogan that exhorts change but, don't freak out, not too much change.

A fresh approach: you know, like your local burger bar retiling the counter and adding a few condiment options, but the same buns and patties you've always loved.

Andrew Little is temporarily replaced by a robot in Labour's ad. Photo / Video still
Andrew Little is temporarily replaced by a robot in Labour's ad. Photo / Video still

The Greens were well ahead of the pack, releasing their first ad more than three months ago. Called Great Greens, it features a procession of individuals sharing their values, their eyes shining with the delight of someone who just got home from swindling Winz.

But the jaunty, percussion-backed veneer of a Paekakariki village fete is blown apart by a close reading, which reveals, by my count, 23 people uttering the word "great" in a shameless grab for the Donald Trump vote.

At least grizzled actor John Bach is there to reassure the base. "Salt and pepper tofu," he says, leaning on his motorcycle.

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.

National has a not very good song that at least doesn't sound like Eminem. Photo / Still from video
National has a not very good song that at least doesn't sound like Eminem. Photo / Still from video

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.

Far and away the most effective ad of the last week, however, came courtesy of New Zealand Tourism.

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.