Sunday, April 17, 2005

Wellington Central Candidate Literature Post #1

During the past 48 hours, most residents in Wellington Central will have received two candidate promotional flyers - the first for the election. Here is my (slightly biased) analysis of both of them.

The first was from National candidate Mark Blumksy.

This was a folded 1/3-A3 glossy leaflet entitled "A Voice For Wellington Central". Inside, there is an extensive biography of Blumsky, although the only mention of policy is:
"Mark believes National's policies of lower taxes, better roads, and more favourable conditions for small and medium businesses will be great for Wellington."
There is also an indication that National still doesn't fully understand MMP. Granted, the leaflet is National Party-blue, but there is a division between National branding and Blumsky branding. Let me elaborate.

The front has no mention of Blumsky, except for a photo (ie no name). It does, however, have a small National logo, and even smaller URL on the front. The leaflet folds out with a picture of Don Brash, and the same photo of Blumsky from the front. Three columns of writing is headed (at the bottom) with [tick] Mark Blumksy; Voice for Wellington. It is not until you turn to the back that there is any mention of party votes. There is a clear division between Blumsky and National - perhaps Mr Blumksy is running for Mr Blumsky, rather than National? Considering the importance of the Party Vote under MMP, this does seem very strange. Similar sentiments are made by Rodney Hide here. There is also no tie in with the "Eyebrows" logo Blumsky is using on a billboard at the Mount Victoria tunnel, which would have provided some branding for Blumsky.

The second piece of literature arrived today (yes, Sunday). This was "The Hobbs Herald; Marian Hobbs MP Reports...", a newsletter from sitting MP, Marian Hobbs.

In almost complete contrast to Blumsky's leaflet, the Hobbs Herald is an A3, 8-page, newspaper format newsprint leaflet. It is full of feel-good photos of Hobbs with several of her constituents, doing thinks like helping out at a volunteer centre, and interacting with students in the Victoria University quad. The information is quite topical, with the front page dedicated to Tuesday night's public meeting regarding the V8 race. There is a distinct link between national politics and the Wellington Central environment. The Labour logo is at the bottom of every page. Some of the data is presented in graph-format - these are not only misleading (the base of the graphs is not zero, making them look considerably more favourable for Labour than they possibly should), but also a little patronising (with big arrows spelling out trends for those not intelligent enough to work it out for themselves).

A direct comparison is not entirely fair: Blumsky's leaflet is clearly electionaring, while Hobbs' is more of a newsletter (which - judging by the House of Representatives logo accompanying every Labour logo - is probably funded by Parliamentary Service). However, as they arrived at around the same time, most residents with minimal political knowledge will not make such a distinction. Therefore, will compare them directly.

Blumsky's leaflet looks a lot more professional than Hobbs', although the format is similar to the countless real estate agent leaflets that arrive almost daily. This could be detrimental in two respects: the leaflet could be dismissed and thrown away on arrival, and could also associate Blumsky with real estate agents (no offence to any real estate agents, but hardly a profession someone running for office would like to be associated with). It was also delivered by the postie which meant that it was folded up within the Wellingtonian and Western News (I almost overlooked it as I was about to light a fire with one of the newspapers). Blumsky's leaflet comes across more personable than the lecture-format of Hobbs'.

Hobbs' leaflet looks more like a community newspaper, which could mean it is dismissed slightly less than Blumsky's leaflet. It was also delivered today - a non-mail day - it didn't have to compete with other junk mail. This also gives the impression (correct or not) that Labour have more volunteers on the ground than National, and don't have to rely on paid deliveries. Hobbs' does, however, give indirect coverage to Blumsky by wading into the V8 road-race debate - an event that is widely associated with Blumsky, yet he makes no mention of it. Maybe Hobbs' is running scared?

I imagine the respective campaign managers will refute almost everything I've written here.

In the end, I think Hobbs' will have got slightly more coverage than Blumsky, for (I'm guessing) slightly less money, but it's early days yet. Very early days indeed, but it is looking to be a fiercely fought out election in the Capital.
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