Candidate Brand Personality and the 2017 New Zealand General Election

  • James BarrettEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Political Marketing and Management book series (Palgrave Studies in Political Marketing and Management)


This chapter addresses the brand personality performance of Andrew Little, Jacinda Ardern, and Bill English from their ascension to the party leadership to polling day in 2017. Their performance is analysed by assessing candidates according to their projected competence, energy, openness, empathy, agreeableness, and charisma. The research finds that Ardern had the strongest performance according to these criteria, with English the middling candidate and Little with the weakest performance. It thus demonstrates both the value and limitations of competence, the ability of energy to ‘reinvigorate’ a party, and the importance of openness, empathy, agreeableness, and charisma. It closes with pertinent lessons for practitioners, including the importance and limitations of focusing on a candidate’s functional capacity, the importance of charismatic communication, and the ability for facets of candidate behaviour to have impacts across multiple brand personality dimensions. Having a well-rounded brand personality is very important for political candidates.


Brand personality Political branding Political candidates Charisma Competence 


Primary Sources

  1. Ardern, J. (2017a). When I popped back to my old home town this week, we visited the fine folks who gave me my first job, August 12 [online video]. Available:
  2. Ardern, J. (2017b). August 18 [online video]. Available:
  3. Ardern, J. (2017c). Live: Palmerston North housing announcement! August 23 [online video]. Available:
  4. Ardern, J. (2017d). At Auckland uni, September 1 [online video]. Available:
  5. Ardern, J. (2017e). Totally humbled by the turnout at our Wellington rally today, September 10 [online video]. Available:
  6. English, B. (2017a). Planes, trains and automobiles… Bad weather meant our flight from Frankfurt to Brussels was cancelled so we took the train instead, January 11 [online photograph]. Available:
  7. English, B. (2017b). NZ Superannuation age to lift to 67 in 2040. New Zealand National Party, March 6. Available:
  8. English, B. (2017c). Lovely to meet Lulu at Auckland Airport tonight, April 7 [online photograph]. Available:‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
  9. English, B. (2017d). It’s been a busy and productive two days in Japan meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and opening up new opportunities for New Zealand businesses, May 18 [online video]. Available:
  10. English, B. (2017e). Sharing the benefits of growth. New Zealand National Party, May 25. Available:
  11. English, B. (2017f). Landmark pay equity deal among July 1 changes. New Zealand National Party, June 30. Available:
  12. English, B. (2017g). The most important thing that happens in schools is learning, but classrooms are important too, August 17 [online video]. Available:
  13. English, B. (2017h). Spent the day in Wellington today visiting thriving businesses like Miramar Creative and BizDojo as well as Newtown School, August 23 [online video]. Available:
  14. English, B. (2017i). Check out our latest campaign ad, August 25 [online video]. Available:
  15. English, B. (2017j). It was 124 years ago today that New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world where women fought for and won the right to vote, September 19 [online video]. Available:
  16. Little, A. (2015). So here’s to the new year, December 31 [online video]. Available:
  17. Little, A. (2016a). John Key woefully out of touch on homelessness. New Zealand Labour Party, May 16. Available:
  18. Little, A. (2016b). Spent some time this morning with other volunteers (including Annette King and Kris Faafoi) at Wellington City Mission, June 8 [online video]. Available:
  19. Little, A. (2016c). Great to see so many people supporting The Cancer Society of New Zealand today, August 26 [online photograph]. Available:
  20. Little, A. (2016d). Last year, I personally committed that as Prime Minister I will make it my goal to eliminate child poverty, October 5 [online photograph]. Available:
  21. Little, A. (2017a). It’s always very special to be at Waitangi celebrating this great day with hundreds of Kiwis as the sun rises, February 6 [online video]. Available:
  22. Little, A. (2017b). Labour to build affordable homes in Hamilton. New Zealand Labour Party, May 5. Available:
  23. Little, A. (2017c). Todd Barclay scandal ‘an absolute disgrace—Little’, June 21. Radio New Zealand. Available:
  24. New Zealand Labour Party. (2016a). Andrew Little’s Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill, May 2 [online video]. Available:
  25. New Zealand Labour Party. (2016b). Inequality in New Zealand, June 30 [online video]. Available:
  26. New Zealand Labour Party. (2016c). Andrew Little: Backing the dream of Kiwi home ownership, July 14 [online video]. Available:
  27. New Zealand Labour Party. (2017a). Agree with Jacinda? Share and spread the word, August 22 [online photograph]. Available:
  28. New Zealand Labour Party. (2017b). We will take climate change seriously because my Government will be driven by principle, not expediency, August 24 [online photograph]. Available:
  29. New Zealand Labour Party. (2017c). That’s Jacinda’s reason for getting involved, September 5 [online photograph]. Available:
  30. New Zealand Labour Party. (2017d). In Monday night’s debate, Jacinda was asked what she’ll bring to leadership that Bill English won’t, September 6 [online photograph]. Available:
  31. New Zealand Labour Party. (2017e). Jacinda’s closing statement from the Stuff Debate, September 8 [online video]. Available:
  32. New Zealand Labour Party. (2017f). Real action on climate change, September 8 [online video]. Available:
  33. New Zealand Labour Party. (2017g). It’s over to you, September 21 [online video]. Available:
  34. New Zealand Labour Party. (2017h). Jacinda—Make history, September 21 [online video]. Available:

Secondary Sources

  1. New Zealand National Party. (2016). Prime Minister Bill English and Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett sworn in, December 11 [online video]. Available: https://youtube/RRmAE1HDpUw.
  2. Bracewell-Worrall, A. (2017). Jacinda Ardern: It is ‘totally unacceptable’ to ask women about baby plans. Newshub, August 2. Available:
  3. Clifton, J. (2017). Why Labour’s last-minute leadership change may be its salvation, August 4. Available:
  4. Garner, D. (2017). Hey Jacinda Ardern, what’s your secret tax plan?, September 2. Available:
  5. Glaser, B. G. and A. L. Strauss. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  6. Gower, P. (2017). Bill English in shutdown mode over Todd Barclay texts. Newshub, August. Available:
  7. Guzmán, F., and V. Sierra. (2009). ‘A political candidate’s brand image scale: Are political candidates brands?’ Brand Management, 17(3), 207–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hurley, E. (2017). Labour MP Poto Williams defied leader to speak out against Willie Jackson. Newshub, February 14. Available:
  9. King, A. (2015). Kiwis’ health suffers as Government spin machine goes into overdrive. New Zealand Labour Party, September 10. Available:
  10. Lewis, J. (2017). Government ‘out of touch’ on education needs. Otago Daily Times, August 29. Available:
  11. Murphy, T. (2017). English calls it: ‘We’re going to win’. Newsroom, September 18. Available:
  12. New Zealand Herald. (2015). ‘Andrew Little denies racism’, July 14. Available:
  13. Newshub. (2017). Bill English ‘discovered poverty last week’, September 20. Available:
  14. Prendergast, E. (2017). ‘I don’t care where the voters come from’—Jacinda Ardern. Newshub, August 1. Available:
  15. Satherley, D., and J. Brown. (2017). Labour under fire for ‘sweat shop’ student scheme. Newshub, June 22. Available:
  16. Small, V. (2017). Ardern shuts down attacks over Barclay as part of ‘relentlessly positive’ approach., August 8. Available:
  17. Smith, G. (2009). Conceptualizing and testing brand personality in British politics. Journal of Political Marketing, 8(3), 209–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Strauss, A. L. (1987). Qualitative analysis for social scientists. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Watkins, T. (2016). Is Andrew Little getting angry about all the wrong things?, March 19. Available:
  20. Watkins, T. (2017). Jacinda Ardern new Labour leader as Andrew Little quits., August 1. Available:

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations