Politicians spend eye-watering sums on creative marketing taglines that capture a zeitgeist. Global companies, with products to sell, do the same. It’s all about finding short, snappy phrases that resonate with consumers and define the brand. It should be unequivocal and un-arguable with a resonance that runs deep.
Think of recent American politics and you have slogans like: ‘Feel the Bern’ , ‘Build back Better’, or ‘Middle Class First’ and of course Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again.’ And in the corporate world you have lines like ‘Because you’re worth it’ , ‘Think Different’ , ‘Just do it’ and ‘Open Happiness.’
For the large part these slogans are vacuous – particularly on the politician’s part – but they draw you back and in, capturing something that you couldn’t quite express yourself but you know it when you see or hear it. Product is sold. Old people get power. The world keeps on turning and we go about our everyday.
But the power of these slogans is immense. They can clarify amidst confusion and cut through politics like an angular spreader on a brand new North kite and I have to say that despite all the manoeuvrings going on in the America’s Cup and all the mud-slinging, email reveals and character assassinations, one thing that keeps on being constant is: “Kiwi Home Defence.” It resonates loud and clear.
Let’s say it’s been a tough week for Mark Dunphy leading the campaign that could well be still-born and utterly disregarded as a “waste of time” by Team New Zealand. It’s been vicious. It has been nasty. For the most part it looks self-inflicted and naive.
But as a complete outsider it has been ugly to watch. This kind of character assassination is dangerous ground – the unintended consequences can be severe and it’s never nice to witness people, whoever they are, being repeatedly kicked when they’re down no matter what the circumstances or accusations. I can see both sides of the story but despite going to bed last night pretty sure in the knowledge that Kiwi Home Defence would be over, I woke up this morning to see statements very much to the contrary. Good on them for persisting. Everyone loves a trier.
And it would seem that the team are pursuing a strategy of relentlessness centred around the core tenet of having the Cup in Auckland. It’s a good place to fight from. It’s absolutely the right scrap to take on and although there have perhaps and allegedly been mis-steps taken, forgive me for thinking that it’s all bluster and noise shrouding the real prize. It’s also nice to see Grant Dalton acknowledging that Auckland is firmly on the table and yes, we all understand the burning desire to win etcetera but as watchers we all know what the right thing to do here is.
Let’s say the Cup goes overseas. The spin is almost written in stone. I could write the press statements myself – it will all be about “giving New Zealand the best chance for success” and “on our watch we don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the 2003 campaign” but let’s be fair here, it’s the easy way out, right?
The hardest thing to do is to find a way to make it work in Auckland and that must be the primary focus. Perhaps, as I have suggested before and was suggested by a loyal reader here yesterday, we do a world circuit that really, truly matters (and that’s important) and have the Match down under. That ticks a lot of boxes for me. It almost certainly doesn’t tick any boxes for the venues who want it lock, stock but a global circuit akin to Formula 1 was what Jim Ratcliffe was alluding to in interviews after the last Cup and I think he pulls stronger strings than Grant Dalton is admitting to.
So long as there isn’t a further killer blow waiting in the wings, and I have a horrible feeling that there might just be, the Kiwi Home Defence project may just have weathered a storm.
My shoe-box advice to them is to get further on the front foot than they have today with regards the parrying of the Hamish Ross situation and be absolutely honest. If they have spoken to or sounded out a couple of foreign billionaires then own it. Be up front and move on fast. Re-position the campaign firmly around the flag of keeping the Cup – or at least the Match – in Auckland and get back somehow to the table. My sense is that the Kiwi public respect honesty and hard work, as we all do, and that the project to get the Cup in Auckland is something well worth wading through glue and pride swallowing to achieve.
Whether it’s achieved by Team New Zealand solo or with Jim Ratcliffe’s backing or whether it’s achieved around the Kiwi Home Defence gang is largely irrelevant when all is said and done. Whoever takes the credit for it, is a hill of beans. It just has to happen.
I’ll come up with a slogan and I tell you what, I won’t charge a single dollar for it. You can fire the marketing agency, relieve the public relations people and print it across New Zealand for free and gratis. You can thank me later:
“Get it done.”