• August 23, 2017
Some young voters say they fail to connect with the Orange Guy. Photo: Anna Thompson
Students are calling for a change of advertising strategy for New Zealand’s electoral campaigns – but the Electoral Commission has defended its iconic Orange Guy, saying its campaigns are much wider than that.
With only 64 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds enrolled to vote, some students are finding the current election material “outdated”.
About 450,000 eligible New Zealanders were not on the electoral roll, the Electoral Commission told Radio NZ.
Twenty-two-year-old AUT law and arts student Sarah Langstone said she had no idea whether she was enrolled to vote.
“I’m not sure how to check or how to even enrol if I’m not. But I think there should be a way to make voting more appealing.”
The iconic Orange Guy has been a part of the voting campaigns since 2009 and was originally created to target the young voting demographic.
However, eight years after it first appeared, some young voters believe it is time for an overhaul in advertising strategies.
Twenty-year-old Tayla Wright, student of the AUT art and design school said she didn’t hate it but it didn’t motivate her to vote.
“I feel like the orange man is outdated and doesn’t represent anything.”
Ms Langstone agrees. “The orange man needs to go.”
Orange Guy was originally successful on social media website Bebo, which was shut down in 2012, but has failed to make an impact in 2017 current social media.
AUT branding design student Seth Down, 21, said he responded better to subtle targeting on social media.
“There needs to be a way they can integrate it into what young people are currently using but making it so obvious.”
Former communications student Jack Anderson, 21, said Orange Guy was “iconic for being annoying”.
“I’d say employ a celebrity or sportsperson that young people can better relate to. Someone like Dan Aux or a young All Black.”
Clare Pasley, communications and education advisor for the Electoral Commission, said: “The Electoral Commission has a broad mix of advertising that will reach voters of all ages.
“The Orange Guy advertising reminds people about enrolling and voting, and that’ll be on TV, radio, in newspapers, outdoor advertising and on social media.
“We also have targeted advertising and content aimed at younger voters and other groups less likely to enrol and vote.
“This content features real people talking about why voting matters to them and encourages audiences to see themselves as voters.”
However, Ms Langstone said: “They put so much money into getting people enrolled and campaigns to vote, but the group that needs it the most are just not responding to the advertisements anymore.”
Ms Pasley said: “This year, 144,000 students at 817 schools are going to be taking part in the Kids Voting mock elections which will help build their understanding of how voting works, preparing them for when they turn 18 and are able to enrol and vote.”
Orange Guy was created as an amorphous orange blob, gender-neutral and exempt from any race to be relatable to any individual.
Karol Wilczynska, an AUT University communication design senior lecturer, said: “It needs to not be fake, which is what Orange Guy is.
“It is a non-person and that does not work. The orange guy, as you call it, is a generic animated image that has no real connection to the population.”
Ms Wilczynska described the figure as “anonymous”.
“This is much as the same as the Government and the use of this figure suggests that your votes are anonymous, too.
“The main aspect you need to consider is the reason why 18 to 25-year-olds would want to vote. Thus the mystery aspect is that the candidates have no real connection to the very people they are trying to target.
“This is a big issue”.