You can't go shopping with values.

It's hard to evade politics right now. It’s playing out on every radio station, every street corner and everyone’s Facebook feeds. So we thought we'd add to the noise. But rather than witter on about the pros and cons of tax, we figured we'd add a marketing lens to see what we can learn.

Bill English landed a great point in the first debate. Values are somewhat nebulous. They go right to the heart of how people think and feel, but it’s tough to understand what they actually mean - until you make it real.

It’s the same in marketing. Our brand strategies and values hang in the clouds. You can’t touch them, but they connect with people on an emotional level. Tactics, however, are different. Tactics make things real. They’re tangible, they’re countable, they make sense.

You can’t go to war without strategy.

The challenge is: tactics without strategy are reactive and subjective. If we need to move a metric, we drop tactics in the market. But if we play out our tactics without a strong strategy, we’re just dancing in the moment and missing the opportunity to push business forward.

More important than that, it’s well known that people buy emotionally and then post-rationalise those purchase decisions rationally. Or, in other words, while you can’t go shopping with values, people go shopping because of values every day of the week. That’s why any investment in identifying and clarifying brand values is one that pays dividends time and time again.

And with the importance of brand strategy in mind, here are some of the values that keep cropping up this election, for better or worse:

Brands move mountains.

Andrew Little is a good guy. He’s smart, hard-working and full of good ideas. But his customer brand was non-existent. No buzz. No secret sauce. Ultimately, not sticky. Then he handed the reins to Jacinda and unleashed a serious brand. And just look at the difference a strong brand can make.

Integrity is everything.

Metiria Turei is passionate about pulling people out of poverty. She decided to share a personal story to raise the profile of people in plight. It worked. And then it didn’t. She was never starving. Her story wasn’t authentic and she lost her career and half of her customers in a week.

Consistency is essential.

National have delivered “strong, stable Government” for nine years. They’ve done good stuff and dropped some balls. But suddenly finding the cash to clean up rivers, fix schools and build extra hospitals and roads kills their credibility. People are asking: "why now?"

Bring on 23rd September.

Babies, outfits, fraud, scandals, and even policies... there's plenty going on this election. But if we push past the hype, there’s also plenty marketers can learn from the mayhem.

That’s what we reckon, what do you think?

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Sarah Stevens