Why get cheesed off over Budget ad?

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

There’s a wee storm a-brewing online over the Labour Party’s choice of photo in publicity material promoting the government’s latest budget, but I’m not sure I understand what all the fuss is about.

Happy families: A stock photograph of an all-American family is being used to depict a smiling Kiwi family on a pamphlet produced to promote the 2008 Budget

Kiwi blogger and all-round online guru Skinny, aka Alan Doak, has taken exception to the fact that the happy, smiling nuclear family being used isn’t from nuclear-free New Zealand. In fact (shock, horror), the family is more all-American than Kiwi-made.

It seems someone opted to buy a stock photo from one of the internet’s biggest royalty-free stock photo agencies, iStockphoto to use in the pamphlet telling us how good the 2008 block of cheese Budget (so named because that’s about all you’ll get for your projected average tax cut) is for us mere mortals.

I’m all for poking the borax at our assorted politicians and some of their dodgy decisions but I’m not sure I really see the problem in this case. Surely everyone understands that in most, if not all, advertising material, the people depicted are actors or models?

And often, the photos used are tweaked beyond all recognition, such as the lovingly airbrushed photos of our own Helen Clark that appeared on pledge cards during the last election and photos of her now on the Labour Party’s website. Maybe I could try a spot of airbrushing on my own photo that appears in The Southland Times every week?

A good number of the ads we see on telly are from across the ditch and I’d assume that most major ad agencies use images from a pool of photographers that stretches beyond our shores.

Brace yourselves folks, I’m about to make a startling revelation: advertising isn’t real.

Wayward farm animals (with suspiciously non-New Zealand sounding accents) don’t hijack utes to cruise around looking for cows and calling rams “sheep shaggers”, toilet-cleaning products don’t spring into life and quack when squirted under the rim and miniature people in colourful costumes don’t dance around on cracker biscuits as in the ad for the crackers with “flavour you can see”. In fact, if you see anything moving on your crackers, it might be time to call the Health Department.

I’m more concerned with the fact that the Government has felt the need to fork out a big chunk of money to tell us how good this Budget is. If it’s so good, shouldn’t we be feeling all warm and fuzzy about our $16 financial windfall without any pushing from the PR types?

The money they’ve spent promoting the Budget could have given us all a packet of crackers to go with our block of cheese. Some of those moving crackers you see on the telly, perhaps.


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