Jacinda Ardern has launched a new slogan for the Labour Party to campaign with in the build up to New Zealand’s general election, which takes place in September of this year.
The slogan “let’s keep moving” is a nice take on the classic incumbent positioning of “now is not time for a change”.
As Ardern has had a good covid crisis, she is able to campaign on the basis of continued progress in the same direction, rather than be forced into an uncomfortable pledge for renewal after years in government.
Donald Trump has not felt able to use his “Keep America Great!” slogan – which is a take on the same incumbent strategy that Ardern is using – because he’s had such a poor showing during the pandemic.
The use of “let’s” as the first word of the slogan is a very subtle nod towards continuity; Labour used the slogan “let’s do this” to win New Zealand’s last general election in 2017.
In both ‘17 and ‘20 Labour have left out a word that makes explicit the meaning of the slogan.
In ‘17 the unsaid word was “change”; one could easily imagine the end line having been “Change. Let’s do this.”
And in ‘20 most incumbent campaigns would have opted for “let’s keep moving forward” rather than exclude the final word as Labour have done.
The confidence the leader has in her ability to give clarity as to the true meaning of the slogan (do what in ‘17? Move where in ‘20?) in the broader campaign – rather than spell it out – is impressive.
The effect of using a shorter, less directional slogan is that it feels more self-assured and softens ‘the sell’. It may be that this contributes to Ardern’s appeal amongst floating voters.
The risk of keeping a slogan slightly vague is that voters are left clueless as to what ‘the offer’ is, so it’s not the right option for every campaign.
But from the way the polls changed when Jacinda took over leadership in ‘17 – and the way the polls are looking now – this lighter touch approach to election slogans works wonders for Ardern.