Billboards are easily the best way to be seen if you’re a hopeful politician. A good billboard and marketing plan can be the difference between visibility and invisibilty. But a bad billboard can undo a whole lot of the gains a month or two of baby kissing and businessman brown-nosing offers.
Last election I invited a team of Auckland experts to run a critical eye over the billboards of Palmy's council hopefuls. I couldn't afford them this year, but got in a similar group of Whanganui professionals for their views. They bought their own alcohol and a wealth of ignorance about Palmy's political scene...and the results were...interesting. Here's what they had to say about Abi Syme's handiwork:
“Palmy is too conservative to elect a chick who wears bow ties onto council.”
Thus intoned Chas, a Whanganui designer, from the town that couldn’t handle an “H” in it’s name. A town whose most radical political decision was to elect Michael Laws - a frothingly rabid radio personality with tattooed eyeliner - as mayor.
I’d like to point out that my team of designers all sported bow-ties. It was, after all, bow-tie Friday in the office. I think they were troubled by the latest billboard they were reviewing because it gave them bow-tie envy. And polka dot shirt envy. And quiff envy.
They also had design envy - because we had sitting before us, the election billboard of Palmerston North’s most well-presented candidate by a conservative country mile.
However Daphne Demente of award winning Whanganui design studio Demente’d Design started raving...
“Where did the idea that rural New Zealand is conservative come from? Carterton elected a transgender mayor - last millennium! Carterton!”
“Invercargill elected an ex-hippy concreter, best known for his anti-vietnam war protests and velvet flairs as its mayor...last millennium! Invercargill!
“Small towns and cities in New Zealand aren’t scared of a bit of novelty in their politics, but novel politicians are few and far between...that’s probably why no-one votes anymore...all the candidates are scared of standing out from the crowd by being interesting, controversial or saying what they ACTUALLY think about stuff...”
Daphne was ACTUALLY getting quite het up...she was also wearing two bow ties.
Politics aside, my team admired Abi’s complexion and judged her skin tones as being “perfectly plausible” - unlike some of the necrotic-looking politicians who have their poorly snapped and printed mugs plastered around town.
Unheard-of praise from the team! But there was more to come...including whispers in our design bunker that Abi’s Peewee Herman-inspired Wardrobe Manager has had job offers from other jealous candidates. Lew Findlay is purportedly offering a two - perhaps even three - figure sum for some last minute tips.
The only negative comments concerned the legibility of Abi’s font choice...but who cares about fonts when there are polka dot shirts on offer!
Our Whanganui designers know nothing of Abi’s politics - like most people driving around Palmy trying to choose who to vote for (or not) - but reckon that if she can work for council half as well as she can organise a billboard, she should probably be mayor.
But is there any substance behind all that style?
Judge for yourself - if you dare!:
BUT SERIOUSLY: If you're considering asking for any sort of public approval by getting a photo of yourself plastered all over town - don't photograph yourself with a cellphone and hope for the best - do what Abi seems to have done and enlist a bit of advice from someone who knows how to process your photo correctly. If you don't have the resources to use a designer, at least ask your signwriter to print out a proof so that you can be sure that you will actually look like you. Signs are expensive - don't blow your budget on bad skin tone.
In the days of rubies, surgical knives and hot wax, the Bromide Room was where a designer could go to breath some toxic air, get away from the boss, and talk shit with someone from the production department. It's been a long time since then...but hopefully the shit I talk here is a fitting tribute to the days when the only thing that I really knew about design was that it was the only thing I
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