‘Charisma’ key to election win
‘‘Go get it.’’
These are Sir Bob Harvey’s succinct words of encouragement for Jacinda Ardern as she heads into the last week of the election campaign.
The former Waitakere City mayor is not shy about expressing his admiration for Ardern having gotten to know her well over her last nine years in Parliament.
And he’s been following this particular election with interest given the similarities it holds to previous campaigns he has been involved in.
Harvey was Labour’s campaign manager for Norman Kirk’s landslide victory in 1972 and again in 1984 when David Lange became Prime Minister.
When comparing the two, Harvey says Ardern is most like Kirk, but also shares many of the qualities that made Helen Clark so successful.
‘‘I think she’s more like Kirk in that she’s a visionary like he was,’’ he says
‘‘I know her really well. She has the charisma and that touchability, which is that thing that makes people want to hug her. And like Helen Clark, she’s got the intelligence and managerial skills.’’
Harvey, who currently works for Auckland Council facilitating overseas investment opportunities, was able to win six mayoral elections himself but was once an advertising guru with a knack for getting other people into office.
One of his first campaigns was Norman Kirk’s second attempt at becoming Prime Minister in 1969, going up against the National Party and Sir Keith Holyoake who was aiming for a historic fourth term in government.
‘‘I met Norm at the Great Northern Hotel in the city, and I told him, ‘I’m going to be the man who’ll make you’. I didn’t say I’d help him win, I said, ‘I’ll make you’ and we did.’’
Drawing on overseas trends, Harvey introduced a media-saavy campaign strategy focused on rebranding Labour and its leader. Harvey came up with the nickname ‘Big Norm’ and was able to transform the shabbily-attired and rather overweight Kirk into a dynamic, trimmed-down politician with wellfitted suits and a message to match.
‘‘My team and I invented the modern political campaign - we had music, slogans, TV ads, documentaries and we had guys like Sam Neill, Roger Donaldson helping us.’’
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