As any soulless marketing executive will tell you, a catchy slogan is key to attracting an audience. And in no other environment are the stakes quite as high as this year’s General Election.
If you’re a left-leaning individual and the thought of an increasingly likely NACT government necessitates a lie-down while thinking through your options of how to flee the country, I feel you. This election is starting to feel less like an exciting celebration of democracy and people-powered change and more like watching your future get flushed down the toilet by a bandit of money-hungry cis white men determined to take our country backwards.
Bleak as it is, I’m still determined to participate in politics with my own hot takes. The focus: election slogans. My qualifications: my impractical arts degree may not get me a job, but at least I can apply the teachings from LCCM171—The Art of Writing: Literary and Creative Communication—to analyse the political rhetoric of the day. The judging criteria: I’m looking for a slogan that’s snappy, persuasive and original, with a mass appeal that especially hits the heart of disgruntled Gen-Z first-time voters like me. The purpose of all this: this election may determine that I will never see financial security or climate justice for as long as I live, but I at least deserve to have some fun before it all goes to shit.
In no particular order:
Labour: ‘In it for you’
This is an oddly intimate slogan that rings like a lover’s whisper in the dark. Can you imagine what it would be like with an added comma and some italics? ‘In it, for you.’ Oh God. I’m not trying to sexualise our Prime Minister, but Labour’s slogan is of an extremely personable, informal flavour that feels very on brand with their current rhetoric. I can vividly imagine Chippy saying this over a luncheon spread of bread and butter.
Rating: It’s verging on too-close-to-be-comfortable territory, a bit like that creepy uncle who always pops up at your family reunion, but it’s a bold statement that stands out. 8/10.
National: ‘Let’s get our country back on track’
This is the kind of condescending statement that’s completely in character for the charmless egg that is Christopher Luxon. New Zealand is the naughty teenager who’s gone off the rails, and Luxon is the saviour at the ready to put us back in line. The informality of let’s, the inclusiveness of our, and that subtle rhyme in back on track—is Nicola Willis the living proof that an English Lit degree has its uses after all?
Rating: A slightly unoriginal but punchy slogan. Gets the job done (has that been a National slogan before?). 7/10.
Green: ‘The time is now’
Woah. Amongst the political parties’ slogans that feel like thinly veiled one-upping, the Greens are truly keeping it real. While National’s trying to get down with the kids through TikTok and Labour’s losing support faster than a cancelled celebrity, the Green Party reminds us that, ahem, not to interrupt, but the planet is actually burning outside. Can we get back to real business, please?
Rating: You already had my vote, Greens, but your solidarity amongst these bitchy hoardings is like a phoenix rising from the ashes of our dying earth. Definitely inducing my climate anxiety, but it’s a necessary evil for inciting real change. 9/10.
New Zealand First: ‘Let’s take back our country’
Like the main character of my recurring nightmare, Winston Peters has appeared from the dark to stake his claim in this year’s political contest. But, come on—there’s no doubting where he pulled this slogan from. The use of let’s, back, and our country… this is basically plagiarism. Was this the doing of ChatGPT?
Rating: Obviously a complete rip-off of National, but for a grumpier, more unhinged cohort. 2/10.
New Conservative: ‘Restoring New Zealand’
This election slogan is so boring it’s barely worth mentioning, but I’d like to bring up New Conservative’s party slogan: ‘Let’s smile again.’ What are they, the dentist? New Colgate? Are the New Conservatives going to start spreading conspiracies about fluoride in water? (Have they done that already?) Also, what’s up with the use of let’s this election?!
Rating: That party slogan reads exactly like something I’d find on the back of my toothpaste box. For mild amusement, 4/10.
ACT: ‘For real change’
ACT’s official election slogan has barely changed since 2020, when it was ‘Fresh thinking. Real change.’ But their slogan appears pretty rarely on its election signs; they seem to prefer outlining policies on their hoardings. ‘Restore law and order’ and ‘End the wasteful spending’ (the really makes it ominous—not just any wasteful spending! The wasteful spending!) are stock-standard sentiments from any libertarian political party. But the pure nastiness of David Seymour’s smarmy face next to the statement ‘End division by race’ will haunt me for the rest of my life. Luckily I’ve never seen one of those signs in the flesh, because I’ve only ever seen two ACT hoardings in the wild and both of them had been knocked to the ground.
Rating: Thanks for the free plywood, I guess? 0/10
The Opportunities Party: ‘A fresh voice’
The one minor political party that’s not run by conspiracists but that everyone keeps forgetting about, TOP’s election slogan is ‘A fresh voice.’ I’m struggling to form an opinion on this. My flatmate thinks this slogan is far too millennial. ‘It’s giving avocado on toast,’ she says.
Rating: I trust my flatmate on this one. 4/10
Leighton Baker Party: ‘They lied.’
Imagine this: you’re driving into Wellington city, and on what is perhaps the biggest billboard in the area is the bleak, serious face of a man whose kin have been in the same 50-kilometre radius of a small Canterbury town for far too long. Who is he? Against a black backdrop darker than the deepest corner of the universe is a simple statement in white text: ‘They lied.’ And in the bottom right-hand corner, in green and blue font: ‘Leighton Baker Party.’
Who lied? What about? Is that man staring at me the Leighton Baker himself? I’d never heard of this political party before, but this billboard had me scrabbling straight to Google faster than when I’m trying to complete a Duolingo timed challenge. Points off for the hideously unoriginal party name (what happens if they change leadership?), but this is cancelled out by the sheer power of this advertisement. Leighton’s website doesn’t shed any light on who or what the nature of this lie is. Guess I’ll have to vote for him to find out?
Rating: The suspense is killing me!!! 11/10.
Featured image by kate aschoff.