Padded Sell

Molten mahogany masterpiece — exorbitant to good home

Back in the 90s, I used to make radio commercials. (The amusing kind, ideally.)

I made them in a weird and wonderful studio called Padded Sell.

Being a creative type, I wanted my dream studio to be distinctly and delightfully abnormal.

Hi-touch, not hi-tech. A place of beauty, surprises, and smiles.

My brief to designer Mike Ting was to create “a Victorian gentlemen’s club on acid”. Which he did, superbly.

Burglary was never an issue for us. That’s because Mike’s waiting room had no doors. The route to the studios was via bookcases that  swung open.

The reception desk looked like a fireplace. Clients waited for their bookings in old green leather hairdryer chairs.

Cloudscapes adorned the ceiling, where cherubs wore wispy
vestments that looked as though they were being sucked into the air-conditioning vents.

Adorning the walls were surrealist paintings, like this one, Swans Reflecting Elephants, by the greatest and looniest of artists, Salvador Dali.

But my favourite Padded Sell artefact was the custom-built desk on which our recordings were lovingly crafted by my master sound engineer Evan Roberts.

(Evan had been Dick Weir’s sound man, and is now creative director of The Gunnery in Singapore.)

Evan agreed that we should avoid the typical recording studio ‘cockpit of the Enterprise’ look.

He suggested a long floating table, with a stack of books under one end, and nothing under the other.

This is a good case study in how ideas evolve…

I called in woodworking wizard John Calvert, and regaled him with my love of Dali and Dr Seuss and smoothness and symmetry and  silliness — and Evan’s idea.

John’s brief was to create a working work of art. A piece of furniture so breathtaking that when people asked me what kind of work we did, I could answer, “the audio equivalent of that.”

His response was this molten mahogany masterpiece. Above is the only photo I have of it in situ. Below is the floating table today, reassembled and temporarily propped up in the basement.

I wish I could present it to you more elegantly, but I won’t be Mr Popular if I Ramset the back support frame through the carpet!

When the frame’s in place (covered with a curtain), the table seems for all the world to be suspended in midair, with no back legs at all, and two absurdly muscular amputated front limbs that rested implausibly on oversized wine flutes.

I closed my dream studio in 2000 when a new landlord decided to turn The Breeze Plaza into flats.

(I’d tried to get naming rights, but for some reason the name Padded Sell Plaza didn’t find favour.)

As you can see, back then I had more money than sense. Now I’ve got just as little sense, and a lot less money.

And since I need money if my Treatygate/Colourblind State campaign is going to work, I’m reluctantly prepared to let my beloved table go if someone values it highly enough.

Without the back bracing to hoist the table up, the wine flutes don’t quite nestle underneath. But you get the idea. And don’t you love those beautifully-scalloped drawers?

The table has spent the last twelve years lovingly wrapped in crinkly cardboard, so it’s pretty much ‘as new’.

I just love John Calvert’s design and craftsmanship. Use him if you can. I think he told me he was having an exhibition at The Dowse. (Open to both sexes, I hope. :-)).

I’m not letting my table go lightly.

After a costly divorce, a studio sabotage, and my habit of walking away from political campaigns, I suspect it’s the most valuable thing I own.

But if you’d like to own this highly unusual piece of furniture, I’d be happy to consider your offer.

I’m offering it here first, in the hope that it may go to one of my loyal readers.

If there are no takers after a few days, I’ll list it on TradeMe and E-Bay — in case a Neil Finn or a Billy Joel is looking for a new workbench.

The shelf is an optional extra. I can’t seem to find the support struts, so I’ve propped it up on bottles.

The shelf is an optional extra.

If you think my old table should be your new table, write to me at

If you have any well-to-do friends who might fancy it, send them the link.

Advertising, Advertising Standards Authority, Dominion Post, Maorification

Ad that Dom banned cleared by ASA

My ACT ad that contained 40 statements of fact has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority.


The Advertising Standards Authority has rejected a complaint about ACT’s controversial “Fed up with pandering to Maori radicals?” newspaper advertisement.

Twelve people argued the advert was “misleading, offensive, racist, in breach of the requirement for a due sense of social responsibility and likely to play on fear”.

The ASA said a political party advocating a robust view on matters of public interest allowed the public to see the party’s position. There was no breach of codes and no grounds for the complaints to proceed, it ruled.

Yet the Dominion Post refused to “allow the public to see the party’s position”. 

As a private company, they had the right to ban the ad. (Whether they had the right to charge ACT full price for the space is another matter.)

But the public also has the right to know that the capital’s daily newspaper is politically biased against ACT.

This is the ad that the Herald ran, and the Dom banned:

What sort of democracy do we live in when a monopoly newspaper can be so cravenly politically correct as to ban a question that most of its readers would answer Yes to, backed by 40 true statements?

Advertising, climate change, Lord Monckton, Patrick Moore, Roy Spencer, Teach tank, The Great Global Warming Swindle

Monckton, Greenpeace, NASA and Nazis

This is a good video to watch if you want a quick insight into the sceptic side of the global warming debate.

You’ll see clips from The Great Global Warming Swindle, the movie featuring Greenpeace founder-turned-sceptic Patrick Moore, NASA scientist Roy Spencer and other eminent sceptics.

Then in the middle you’ll see Lord Christopher Monckton completely monstering (with logic) a noisy gang of young Climate Scientologists who were silly enough to  disrupt his Copenhagen meeting.

Seizing upon the parallel with the bullying tactics of the Hitler Youth in the same city, he quickly gained a global audience by describing them as such.

When a Jewish member of the gang objects, Monckton front foots like a true Thatcherite. He tells the offended heckler that if he and his mates ares going to behave like the Hitler Youth, he’s going to keep calling him that.

(What a shame Monckton isn’t the Lord Mayor of London right now.)

This is all great sport, but in amongst it all is Monckton’s point:

Although these young hecklers are rude rather than murderous, There is a very real parallel between the green movement and evil regimes like the Nazis.

And that is the huge number of deaths from starvation being caused by food shortages, caused by rising food prices, caused by the conversion of food crops to biofuel.

The greenies never have an answer to that one. I made this little ad about it:

This is the way to defeat the Left. Tell the graphic truth about how their pathological stupidity invariably hurts the people they make such a play of pretending to care about.

I want to start a ‘teach tank’ to put ads like this in front of the public.

Right-wing politicians have tried to bust the media blockade, but failed. Ads like this will  cut through. If the media won’t run them, we just plaster them on poster sites.

They needn’t be big ads, but they do need to be plentiful, and regular. There are so many issues to cover. 

Such a campaign, from a brand that becomes trusted for its clarity, will change the polarity of politics.

Now, who wants to fund it?

2025 Taskforce, Don Brash, Posters, Roger Douglas

When are we going to start catching Australia?

Apologies for the lack of recent posts, but I’ve been busy making posters like this for Sir Roger Douglas.  

This one highlights the government’s distinct lack of ambition for New Zealand relative to the country it said it was committed to  catching.

Even an Australia under a Labor government is a fast-moving target for NZ under a National one, so granny steps in the right direction won’t cut it. 

As the 2025 Taskforce’s second report said, “We can catch Australia, but we have to start.”

That, I think, is Brash-speak for, “My former colleagues are as lily-livered as ever.”

And because we’ve yet to start, we now have to grow at 2% a year faster than Australia grows (up from 1.6% faster) — hardly likely under a PM who takes his policy direction from Lucy Lawless.

Will post more posters and have a general catch up soonish.

Billboards, Coastal Coalition, John Key

Success — for now

Good to see John Key appears to be having a rethink.

John says the billboard is inaccurate. Really — which bits? 

Does he mean iwi will no longer get

  • ownership rights
  • development rights
  • mining rights, and
  • veto rights

over the foreshore and seabed, and that all New Zealanders will continue to have 

  • free access to all beaches (including those declared by iwi to be ‘culturally significant’)?

Because if he doesn’t, he should apologise to the Coastal Coalition, who are getting mightily sick of being painted as liars.

And if he does, then why is he going to the trouble of renouncing Crown ownership?

Advertising, Foreshore and seabed, John Key

Iwi/Kiwi — the Sequel and the Prequel


Come back Helen Clark, all is forgiven.

You may have thought Ethics was a county in England. You may have trampled on our free speech in election year. But at least you locked in our right to a free beach.

Just yesterday we learned that John Key can no longer guarantee that right.

He can’t be sure a group of part-Maori, part-Pakeha New Zealanders won’t one day tax you for the right to swim, sail or fish in your own bay.

By Christmas he may well have traded away tens of thousands of square kilometres of New Zealand coastline for a resource he prizes more highly than all the oil in our territorial sea.

Five Maori Party votes.

There’s a word for that, and it’s not trader.

There was a time not so long ago when the National Party could say it was to the right of Helen Clark on matters Maori.

It had a leader with principles for whom I was proud to create advertising.

As the billboard below made clear (but was cynically misinterpreted by the left), there was never any doubt who Don Brash stood for.

As any dictionary will tell you, Kiwi means all New Zealanders, which clearly includes those represented by the last three letters — iwi.

But when John Key gives iwi the right to negotiate directly with the Crown — meaning former Ngai Tahu lawyer and strongly pro-Maori minister Chris Finlayson — who will speak for Kiwis?



Critics on the left thought it dishonest to characterise Helen Clark as ‘Iwi’. After all, did her Foreshore and Seabed Act not claim the coast for the Crown?

It’s a fair point.

But it was not the way the National Party saw things at the time.

They viewed Labour’s bill as deliberately embedded with fish-hooks that iwi could use to eventually hook the resources they craved.

Below is the long copy forerunner of the Iwi/Kiwi billboard, which I wrote a year earlier to spell out National’s concerns.

It talks of their fear of vague concepts like tikanga Maori and customary rights.

In 2004 the Nats believed those concerns to be real, but it would now appear those fish-hooks were blunt. In the six years since, few if any tribes have succeeded with their coastal claims.

So while Clark may have been Iwi next to Brash’s Kiwi, alongside Kaumatua Key she’s ‘Kiwi as’.

Key’s foreshore and seabed plans are frightening, as he’s repeatedly shown he’s willing to sacrifice the national interest for the interests of the National Party.

For a fascinating insight into principles as a tradable commodity, click on the magnified image at the very bottom and read my 2004 body copy.

You may need to pinch yourself as you do.

Yes, this is the National Party trying to scare you about Labour’s coastal management — when most of the same fish-hooks are now part of their own policy, but sharper.

Enjoy the exquisite hypocrisy.


Click on the below image to magnify the body copy, then again if you need to.

 This post is also appearing on Muriel Newman’s site

Note: I’ve submitted the billboard at the top to the Coastal Coalition. Hope they decide to run it.

Advertising, Dominion Post, PPTA,

Dom damns PPTA

I love the way those brash  Noo Yawk ad men go right to the heart of an issue in the bluntest of Anglo-Saxon.

(I try to do the same.)

Here’s their take on a common pestilence: unions that put bad teachers before good teachers and children.

I thought it would make a cute backdrop for a post in praise of this morning’s brilliant DomPost editorial about the PPTA’s latest extortion demand.

Teachers need to get real

There has long been a suspicion that reality stops at the door to the teachers’ staffroom.

Now is a time for restraint, not political game-playing. The PPTA is on the wrong side of public opinion. It should abandon its pay claim and focus on improving the quality of teaching.

There is no denying that good teachers are underpaid. But that will not change until teacher unions allow schools to remunerate their staff according to their abilities. No government could afford to bump up the salaries of good teachers by giving all teachers a pay rise.

In Switzerland, I’m told most teachers are paid around NZ$120,000 a year. And who hires them? The parents.

The Post Primary Teachers Association’s ludicrous claim for a 4 per cent pay rise for secondary school teachers lends credence to the theory.

The world is just emerging from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the Government is effectively borrowing $200 million a week to maintain existing levels of services, tens of thousands of New Zealanders have lost their jobs, and hundreds of thousands have received little, if any, pay rise for the past two years.

The majority reluctantly accept that is the price they must pay for job security. At a time of crisis, everybody – employers and employees – has to tighten their belts.

For the PPTA to demand a big pay increase at such a time is to show gross insensitivity to those who pay teacher salaries through their taxes. For it to demand the increase after its members received 4 per cent pay increases in each of the past three years is to show secondary teachers, or their union at least, are completely out of touch with the real world.

Teachers perform a vital role. They shape the scientists, doctors, cleaners and electricians of the future. As every parent knows, some – those who inspire, engage and excite pupils – are worth their weight in gold. It would be almost impossible to overpay them. However, there are others who go through the motions for a weekly pay cheque and a third group who are simply not up to the job.

Yet the present pay structure does not allow schools to differentiate between the performance of good, indifferent and bad teachers. They are all paid on the basis of their years of service and the responsibilities they hold.

If teacher unions are as serious as they say they are about wanting to keep good teachers in schools, they should work with the Education Ministry to devise a formula that allows schools to pay great teachers what they are worth and send a message to poor teachers that they should review their career options.

Every child knows who their outstanding teachers are. Didn’t you?

Me too. I had about three. I still keep in touch with them 35-40 years later.

Certainly every principal knows who his star performers are. As does any parent who cares about their child’s progress.

I’ve always made a big fuss of great teachers. Anyone who can mesmerise over two dozen hormonal teenagers into mastering  quadratic equations or psychoanalysing Hamlet is one of society’s true heroes.

We had one a few years back who inspired our 12 year old to write a 150 page novel in three weeks.

Like any12 year old, the boy preferred zapping aliens online than pouring prose out of his keyboard.

But this magnificent teacher said “Jump!” And the kids said, “How high?”

As for the dullard teachers, they’re not hard to spot either.

They’re the ones with the long queues of parents snaking out the door and down the corridor on meet-the-teacher nights.

I had one of these for science at high school. More than one actually. Together, they’re the reason I know nothing about science except how to spell it. (Oh, and how to sing the Periodic Table – but that came decades later).

When this guy eventually retired, he apologised to all those he’d mistaught over the years. Which was a fat lot of use.

He should never have been allowed near a classroom. Instead, thanks to the PPTA, he ended up being paid more than his younger, smarter, more diligent colleagues.

For that union to suggest that teachers can’t be measured is exquisitely hypocritical. After all, their members have no trouble applying numerical grades to the children they teach!

But back to the editorial: 

Alternatively, the unions could work with the Government to identify other areas of saving in the education budget. The overstaffed ministry would be a good starting point.

Every 1 per cent increase in primary, secondary and early childhood education salaries costs $50m. Contrary to what the teacher unions and their members appear to believe, the Government is not sitting on a big pot of money. Every extra dollar paid to teachers or other public service employees has to be cut from other areas of government spending or borrowed from overseas.

Whoever wrote that, take a bow.

(Get in touch and I’ll buy you a beer.)


Anne Tolley, Billboards, PPTA, Steven Joyce

PPTA declares war on education ministers

When all the fluff is stripped away, teacher unions exist so that:

  • Teachers who can’t teach can’t be stopped from teaching.
  • Those who can teach can’t earn more than those who can’t.

In my book, that makes the PPTA the educational equivalent of a Big Tobacco lobbyist.

They know that a teacher’s ability to explain and fascinate is what determines whether or not a child learns.

They know that the difference between a competent and incompetent teacher is the difference between children’s success and failure.

They know that one boring teacher can kill hundreds of children’s enthusiasm for a subject forever.

They know all this. Yet they still turn out stomach-churning ads claiming that they care about children. 

Well, this latest billboard surely confirms that they don’t.

Just when the National government is bringing some real-world standards to our increasingly dumbed-downed education system, what does this supposedly child-centred union do?

Publicly brands education ministers Anne Tolley and Steven Joyce as dimbulbs.

Wow, that’s really bright. The Dale Carnegie negotiation strategy: guaranteed to win friends and influence the employers’ employers.

Now I’m told the dimming campaign is really about the government’s decision to relieve you and me of the burden of paying for other people’s hobby classes.

Hard to say. The billboard gives no clue. But no matter.

Never waste a crisis, as the saying goes. And a grievous (and possibly unprecedented) insult like this can certainly be parlayed into a crisis.

The Nats should grab this slur as the perfect excuse to smash the teacher protection racket the way Margaret Thatcher smashed the miners.

If you ever hear a unionist sounding plausible about how national standards will stigmatise children, remember: their sole interest in your children is to keep the worst teachers in front of them.

Architecture, Design, Gavin Bradley, Karl du Fresne, Saatchi & Saatchi, Te Papa, Wellington

Te Papa: what might have been

Museum of Mediterranean History, Reggio Calabria, Italy.

Karl du Fresne says the new head of Te Papa should tear the building down and start again.

I agree. From the outside, Te Papa is not a museum, it’s a mausoleum. One I resent having to see every time I fancy a stroll round Oriental Bay.

Te Papa
Te Papa: museum or mausoleum?

Contrast the above pile of rubble with what three other countries made of similar challenges – the Italian (top) and Dubai (below) examples both museums.

Dubai Museum.

Selfridges Shopping Centre, Birmingham.

Can you imagine dear old Prince Charles cutting the ribbon on this whale-like structure? He’d probably have taken the scissors to his wrists instead.

But such a nautical theme would go well on the Wellington waterfront. (I do love that smooth disc cladding.)

I remember when the full horror of the Te Papa design was revealed, Gavin Bradley from Saatchis suggested a paua shell roof.

Another brilliant idea killed by the mediocracy.

Advertising, Billboards, Don Brash, Politics, PPTA

The 2005 National billboard you never saw


It was my favourite of the lot, but it never ran. Don Brash wanted it to, but others thought no one would understand what PPTA was.

I replied that the media would ensure that they soon did!

I think this billboard would have created a firestorm, which the teacher unions surely deserve.

It would have thrown the spotlight on the real wreckers of the New Zealand education system: unions that for decades have quite deliberately destroyed the futures of thousands of children by insisting that they be exposed to useless, boring, uninspiring teachers.

Let’s hope the latter-day Nats can summon up the guts to deal to these Labour-protected losers – and pay good teachers the six-figure sums they deserve.

(They just might too, as depowering the PPTA would be hugely popular with parents, students, business, and anyone who cares about New Zealand’s future.)

Advertising, Politics

On Sunday programme tomorrow

TVNZ’s Cameron Bennett came to the flat on Thursday to interview me for this week’s Sunday programme.

It was a busy time with the laptop chirping with ACT business, so I hope my distractedness wasn’t too obvious.

My job was to rate Labour’s campaign, while Tom Scott will be rating National’s.

(No pressure!)

Then a panel will be rating our ratings. I understand.

When Cameron asked me to rate Clark’s campaign out of ten, the first word out of my mouth was ‘Two.’ Then for the next take I upgraded her to a six.

My 2/10 was for the way her Slippery John attacks backfired and just made her look like Sleazy Helen.

But taken as a whole, including her surprisingly human performance in the last debate, and strong Labour branding on the ground, I thought a 5 or 6 was fairer.

If I’d been asked, I wouldn’t have ranked the Nats much higher, if at all. I thought the big ad battle was pretty close to a nil-all draw.

Advertising, Politics



If a child asks a parent for endless lollies and the parent says no, we call them a good parent. If a politician does the same, we call him a heartless right-winger! It’s crazy.

If you keep letting politicians bribe you with your children’s money, you’ll get the government you deserve. 

If Labour and National had adopted ACT’s 1994 tax cut strategy sooner, we’d all be a lot richer now. We pay a very high cost for waiting for timid conservatives to see sense.

Give ACT the numbers tomorrow, and Rodney Hide will make sure National stokes the engine of economic growth and gets us all richer quicker.

No more communism by stealth. No ruinous Emissions Trading Scam. (That’s likely to leave the Greens’ little girl without a job as her mum shovels $3000 a year to the Russians.) 


If ACT’s ‘3 Strikes’ policy had been in place earlier, Emma Agnew, Karl Kuchenbecker, the trio murdered in the Panmure RSA and many other poor souls would still be alive.

William Bell had amassed 102 convictions when he killed Mary Hobson, William Absolum and Wayne Johnson.

Antonie Dixon had been found guilty of 160  offences when he killed James Te Aute.

If ACT had been running things, they would have both gone to prison for life after their third violent assault. Before they killed. Not after.


It’s not just in the crime area where the difference between voting ACT and Labour/National could be the difference between life and death.

ACT’s 20 Point Plan for the economy would boost Kiwis’ pay over time, not by $10 or $50, but by $500 a week.

We’d grow the economy, so we can afford the full year course of Herceptin that richer countries can afford. Under Labour mismanagement, a New Zealand breast cancer sufferer must find $100,000 – or die. 

And the Labour government would rather you died than let a private hospital save your life. That’s not mad. That’s bad.

Other parties say they care. But only ACT has the cure. 


Normally-socialist Sweden has been implementing ACT’s school scholarship system since 1994. 

Today, only one party in Sweden doesn’t support it, and that’s the Communists.

Each parent gets a scholarship from the government for about $100,000 per child – the same as the state spends on your child over thirteen years of schooling. 

You’ll have to spend that money with schools. But you can choose whether they’re public or private schools. Or even home schools. 

The point is, those schools will have to do what you want, not what bureaucrats want. And in Sweden, that’s led to a flourishing of new, smaller, schools and a surge in education standards. 

(And the areas that have benefited most have been the poor areas, where they had no choice but bad schools before.)



Do you want a government of change? Or just a change of government?

If you want real change, you won’t get it from National alone. You’ll need to strengthen the coalition with a spine of principled, experienced, gutsy ACT MPs.

With Rodney Hide ahead in Epsom by 56% to 27%, your ACT party vote will definitely count.
It will have the same power to flush away Helen Clark as a National party vote.
But in improving New Zealand, it will be much more powerful.
Because by adding more ACT MPs to the National/ACT coalition, you’ll be boosting the chances of getting the above results for you, your family and New Zealand.

ACT is peaking at the right time – as usual! If National get 47% of MPs and ACT 4%, Rodney Hide is going to have a lot of clout with John Key.

Once, ACT’s founder had the guts to do what was right for New Zealand, and our modern, energetic society with its wonderful array of choices is his legacy. 

Now it’s your turn.


Advertising, Politics

ACT couldn’t use these – but you can!







If only ACT really was a party of millionaires, you might have seen more of these.

Feel free to email them to your friends and family, as long as you include the authorisation below.

For the press ads below, the body copy was never written, so what’s in there is just filler.








If you send them on, don’t forget to tag your emails: ‘Authorised as demanded by Labour’s, NZ First’s and the Greens’ outrageous assault on free speech by Nick Kearney, 37 Beach Haven Road, Auckland.’

Advertising, Politics

Adding the Key blessing


 Advertising writers know that people do read body copy if they’re interested in the product.

This ad is written for those who want to know the truth about the ETS.

It points out yet another important difference between populist National and principled ACT.

But today we’ve added the Key/Hide ‘cup of tea’ photo. This sends two other messages.

It tells all ACT supporters around the country that their votes will count. Because they know it’s also telling National voters in Epsom to vote for Rodney.

Why doesn’t John Key just come out and say this?

Because much of National’s funding comes from the mansions of Remuera, Parnell and Epsom.

And many of their blue-rinsed residents have yet to appreciate the tactical nuances of this new-fangled voting system called MMP.

Put simply, the idea of not voting blue would make them see red.

ACT has a big challenge in the next few days. We have to convince centre-right voters that to achieve their goal of getting rid of the odious Clark, they have two choices.

Not just one.

To change the government, they can vote for either National or ACT. It’s the National + ACT total that counts. Not the National total alone.

If the National/ACT total exceeds 50% of MPs, we get a National-led government.

It doesn’t make the slightest difference to the centre-right’s numbers whether National get the entire 50+%, or ACT gets 10% of it.

That’s what people don’t get yet.

But it sure as hell will make a big difference to the country.

ACT’s thrust for the next few days will be getting voters to recognize the huge difference between a change of government and a government of change.

That difference is ACT.

Stay tuned for those ads.

Advertising, Politics, Uncategorized

Press relations restored

I’ve just had a phone call and exceptionally gracious apology from a very pleasant advertising director.

It seems she is no comfortably-shod feminazi out to sabotage the ACT campaign, but just wanted to protect her client from itself after the Green spoof controversy.

And contrary to my prediction, the ad appeared in an excellent position for a run-of-paper placement.

This restores my faith in God (AKA Alan – Wellington’s god of retail advertising, Alan Martin), who’s catch cry was ‘It’s the putting right that counts.’ 

The late Mr Martin once put something right for me – a faulty fridge connection which nearly electrocuted me.

I rang him on a Sunday in a somewhat agitated state. He was as good as his word and said he’d ‘sack the bastard’ who’d left the wires exposed.

(I had to plead with him not to put things quite that right and let the poor man keep his job.)

In the same vein, I will now praise this woman to the heavens whenever I get the chance.

Advertising, Politics

Voting ACT: a matter of life and death

These three ghoulish faces will greet you in tomorrow’s paper.

They nearly didn’t make it.

This post was so very nearly going to be a whistleblowing story of a sabotage attempt by an overzealous newspaper advertising director.

Right at the death, she spooked us with a long list of reasons why you shouldn’t be allowed to see this ad in her publication.

First, we delivered it a few minutes late. This happens in election week, when strategies are a bit of a moveable feast. We did our damnedest to hit the deadline, but just missed.

(My remembering that I’d spelled Teresa Cormack’s name with an ‘h’ didn’t help.)

Then she said our cheeky authorisation line breached the EFA.

(This despite both the NBR and the Sunday Star-Times – hardly the right’s best friend – having no problem with the same line last week.)

Then Miss Bossy-boots said we needed to get the permission of the murder victims’ families before we could mention their names. 

How this is any business of a bloody advertising director, God only knows. Surely it’s our lookout if one of the families takes offence, not the paper’s.

Oh and I’m sure the paper’s journalists faithfully ring for permission every time they write a story about the same victims.

Yeah right. 

Next hoop she made us jump through at the end of a long and stressful day was to question whether the Privacy Act would let us publish the number of convictions each killer had accumulated before being let out to kill.

Since that was one of the very points I was making in the ad, she may have had a point there, I don’t know.

But by then, I was smelling a stinky, rotten, blood-red rodent. I felt like Don Brash trying to get Helen’s private police force to investigate the theft of his emails.

As I said in my intemperate reply, we’ve come to a pretty pass when a newspaper defends the ‘rights’ of killers not to have their atrocities exposed. 

Somehow, someone got this busybody to see sense and the ad is supposed to be running uncensored.

That said, I’m not expecting to see it anywhere near the front. (But then in this particular paper, the back is quite near the front.)

I’d just completed Plan B when I got the good news. Plan B was to go ballistic in the other media with the story of bias against ACT.

Let’s hope Saturday marks the beginning of the end of this sort of nonsense.

Another good day at the factory from Mike Boekholt, and special thanks to media buyer Gwyn Jones for fighting our corner superbly.

Hope you like the ad.

Advertising, Politics

Helping Rodney scupper the ETS

You read it here first. ACT’s new ad for the Sunday Star-Times tomorrow. Poking the borax at parties who tell it like it isn’t.

John Key is a genuinely nice guy, but I doubt I’ll be getting a Christmas card from him this year after this.

While I don’t like upsetting my friends at the Nats, I just can’t agree with someone who knows that man-made climate change is a hoax, but would rather waste billions of our dollars on a fix that won’t work, than use his public platform to explain the science.

John thinks explaining is losing. Maybe he’s right. Maybe not. But surely if you’re really ambitious for New Zealand, it’s right to try

Rodney and Roger are made of sterner stuff, and I’m proud to try and explain their position. I hope this ad helps get ACT the traction they deserve.

If it doesn’t, it’s my fault. They approved the copy as written.

The photo of Rodney – which I really like – was by ACT Hutt South candidate and artist Lindsay Mitchell.

(I remain mystified why such a passionate and knowledgeable candidate as Lindsay is ranked only 14th. Bob Jones launched her campaign, and Bob doesn’t come out for just anybody.)

Thanks to Mike Boekholt, Lance Tomuri and Andrew Rundle-Keswick for the artwork.

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Back with ACT

UPDATE: For those who are apparently still visiting this page in 2011, this post relates to the 2008 election. As a recidivist resigner (as Paul Henry called me in a recent interview), I thought I should make it clear that I have no plans to return to ACT in 2011 — and I imagine ACT has even fewer plans to invite me to. But they should think about running an update of this ad.

OK, OK, so it’s been harder for me to sit out an election than I thought. In the end I just couldn’t say no to a cause I believe in.

This, then, is the World Premiere of ACT’s new press ad. It runs in the NBR tomorrow.

I think it sums up why we need ACT in these troubled times. I hope Rodney, Roger and John can find the money to run it more than once.

My thanks to my artistic partners Lance Tomuri, Mike Boekholt and Andrew Rundle-Keswick.

Advertising, Politics, Uncategorized

Ambulance ambience

Stephen Franks rang on Friday to say we’re providing a lot of enjoyment to the centre right, especially with the Helen and Winston Trusts billboard.

This turned into a drinks invite and a nice meal with Stephen and Cathy at St John’s Bar.

None of us had eaten there before, and all agreed that the fish dishes were exceptional.

I had been in the building before – on an outing from  Waterloo when I was a nine year old cub and St John’s was an ambulance station.

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Morning-after Report

After filming the Media 7 show, the guests and crew retired to the bar at the comedy club where it was filmed.

Some hours after that, I retired further to the London-something-or-other pub next to my hotel for a beer, a sausages and mash, and the final overs of Team Vettori’s jittery victory in Chittagong.

So my relaxation was well advanced when a journalist from National Radio rang wanting my comments on an anti-abortion campaign involving the nuking of Wellington.

This just a week after the Aftershock doco where my home patch was levelled by an 8.2 earthquake.

(It occurred to me that, the odd cockroach aside, only one creature could survive such a twin pummelling. But he’d have to win Tauranga first.)

Then a few minutes even later, one of her colleagues rang seeking my reaction to Labour’s Two Johns attack ad.

Great, suddenly I was the late night go-to guy on all things advertising. I suspect Mike Hutcheson put them up to it.

Anyway, as this idea was obviously derived from the Soap  radio campaign I did for Labour in 1987, I was happy to discuss it. But not while that happy.

Fearing I’d sound like Muldoon the night he called the snap election in 1984, I suggested he ring back early the next morning, thus ending any hope of a well-earned sleep-in.

In the eventual interview on Morning Report , mustering all the sincerity I could fake, I did my best to give a reasonable impression of a person happy to be alive.

Advertising, Politics, Uncategorized

Kiwiblog spoof now real billboard

What began as an idle suggestion by me on Kiwiblog and a quick mockup by Whale Oil has now become a real billboard for the Free Speech Coalition.

It went up this afternoon in Auckland and, weather permitting, Wellington. 

Stay tuned for the Tauranga special 🙂

The bottom line, if you can’t read it, says ‘Authorised as demanded by LabourFirst’s and the Greens’ outrageous assault on free speech by David Farrar of the Free Speech Coalition…”

Advertising, Politics

On Media 7 tonight

I’m in Auckland to record the TVNZ7 show Media 7 about (what else?) political ads.

The recording was last night. It screens tonight at 9.30pm if you’ve got Freeview. Otherwise you can see it on the website.

We had great fun – ‘we’ being host Russell Brown, mayor/Labour president/ad-man Bob Harvey, political marketing lecturer Jennifer Lees-Marshment, and me.

It was my first TV programme outside of game shows, so I was a little nervous about the format. Would it be a lefty ambush?

If so, I was ready with my defence of Iwi/Kiwi (which I’ll blog some day).

But the reality was much more congenial.

Russell was a very fair host, Bob was great fun, and Jennifer I knew from having talked to her class at Auckland University in 2006.

The most openly partisan panelist was almost certainly me, as I couldn’t resist lampooning Clark’s outrageous ‘trust’ positioning.

But the producers seemed happy, and the audience laughed more than usual apparently. Producer Phil Wallington wants me to come back for a one-on-one some time over Christmas.

The programme is produced by Top Shelf Productions, whose owner Vincent Burke I recognized from my philosophy class at Vic in 1976.

While I’ve had a complete rearrangement of flesh and facial hair in the interim, Vincent’s still got the ginger pony-tail he had back then, and hasn’t changed a bit.

Advertising, Politics

This morning’s Sunday Star-Times article: Labour plus the work of vandals

The following appeared this morning, minus the bit after the defaced blue billboard, which I’ve just added.


No dangling babies on red ribbons this time for Labour. But their first big billboards have no Helen, no logo, and no party vote message either.

Why this reluctance by both main parties to keep their leader’s mugs off the big sites?
Like National, Labour seem to be running two parallel campaigns. So much so that you wonder if they’re being done by two separate agencies.
The billboards (including the candidate ones) make full use of Labour’s glorious red and the powerfully emotive ‘Keep it Kiwi’ line.

Then you have the press ads, which feature a polished white-clad Helen on a white background with the Labour logo that’s missing from the billboard, and the slogan ‘This one’s about trust.’
In the ‘trust’ TV ad, Helen is so haughtily hypocritical she deserves a point-by-point response:
“National wanted us to go to war in Iraq. I said no – that’s not where New Zealanders’ values are at.”

(They’re in Afghanistan, so I sent us to war there.)
“This election’s about trust.”

(Or should that be ‘trusts’?) 

“It’s about who’s being straight up”

(like Key and Rodney)

“and who isn’t”

(like me and Winston). 

“Our actions”

(forging paintings, stealing public money for pledge cards, shutting down free speech, lying about donations, ten years of deficits)

“versus their words.”
But the production values are good, and the message is upliftingly nationalistic – though the PM looks like she’s got a bad case of myxomatosis with the light forcing her eyes into a puffy squint.
Labour’s candidate billboards are very simple and strong.

But all parties’ billboards are so devoid of entertainment that we’re reliant on the vandalised versions for our jollies.

One can titter sympathetically at Sue Moroney’s misfortune,

and perhaps less so at this Nelsonian’s attempt to turn National into the National Front.

I shouldn’t give advice to vandals, but this billboard is not just in appallingly bad taste.

It’s also overdesigned – like the National originals.

The perpetrators seem to have missed the obvious opportunity to blank out the B in Brighter. That would have been a bit clever. 

And if their goal was to echo the Nazis’ unquestioned flair for poisonously potent propaganda, they blew it by adding Party HARD.

It’s probably just as well I can’t quite make out the photograph.

Advertising, Politics

Green there, done that, got the press ad

I like the Greens’ little girl poster. But I knew someone had done it before. My old art director Elwyn Pugsley reminds me it was us! – for the Board of Trustees Election campaign 20 years ago.

1988 – Department of Education

 2008 – Green Party

I’m not accusing the Greens of bubonic plagiarism. (A phrase I pinched from Austin Mitchell.) Most creative people are too proud to steal ideas.

More than likely, it’s just a case of two people downloading from the ether the same logical solution to a similar brief.

I remember our little girl was found by director Gaylene Preston for our TV ad. She’d now be old enough to be the Green girl’s mother. It looks like she might be! Continue reading