I'm disappointed by National's controversial new online ad.

There is plenty of debate about whether it's sexist or not, but let me tell you, it's sexist.

It plays to the old trope of man-explains-to-unworldly girl.


If you didn't get that from the wide-eyed stupidity of the female character, you should've got it from the reinforcing sausage gag.

They're all sizzle, no sausage. The sausage is a phallic symbol FYI.

If that sounds too conspiratorial to you, you're being naive. This is an effective political ad and effective political ads almost always contain some sort of subtle dog-whistle. And very little in such an ad is an accident.

The sausage is deliberate. The female character is deliberate.

It doesn't take much to figure out that she's supposed to reference Jacinda Ardern. Her wide-eyed lack of understanding a reference to Labour's – and thus probably Ardern's – lack of understanding of how to make KiwiBuild work.

I'm a little tired of National playing this card.

They've done it before. Last year the Speaker Trevor Mallard accused National of aiming the phrase "stupid little girl" at the Prime Minister in the House.

Here's the thing. You might not rate Ardern. You might think that she is naïve and unprepared for the task of running a country. You can blame that on a lack of experience or a lack of diligence or any number of things. But you cannot blame that on the fact that she is a woman.

And, unfortunately for National, it looks like that is exactly what they're blaming it on.

Will this backfire on National?

Probably not. Just like the Kiwi-Iwi ads, it's blown up and drawn even more attention to the point they're trying to make. Which is that KiwiBuild is a flop. Now more people have watched that ad and heard that message.

And true-blue voters may not find this ad offensive and will instead by annoyed by the uproar it's causing.

So, in the end, it's a clever ad.

But it's disappointing.

Heather du Plessis-Allan hosts Wellington Mornings on Newstalk ZB weekdays from 9am and is a Herald on Sunday columnist