This ad cost you $2.4 million

Ad screenshot

The Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that Waka Kotahi (NZTA) spent $2.4 million on the first advertisement in its campaign promoting lower speed limits.

The ad, which can be viewed here, features a wig-wearing, clipboard-wielding NZTA official explaining to a pair of children that speed limits are currently too fast.

Nine hundred thousand dollars was spent producing the one-minute video. That works out at $15,000 per second – about the same cost as Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story.

The remainder of the $2.4 million budget was mostly spent on advertising space, ensuring New Zealanders are tortured by the ad’s repetition.

NZTA costs

Like the Government’s infamous Three Waters ads, NZTA’s “Safe Limits” ad appears to be more about promoting a Government policy – lower speed limits – than communicating useful information to the public.

Waka Kotahi has disabled comments on the YouTube version of the ad, but on Facebook the video has been ridiculed. Representative comments from viewers include:

  • It looks like they’re “dumbing down” their information. Ridiculous ad. 
  • Once again instead of improving the roads this government’s solution [is] lower the speed and spend the money on marketing.
  • The ad is a great metaphor – when the hi vis dude can’t hear what the kids are saying, it’s just like when Waka Kotahi asks for public consultation on speed limit reductions and road safety, and completely ignores what the public feedback is e.g. Napier-Taupo Road.
  • Waka Kotaki should be ashamed of itself, running TV ads to gain support for reducing speed limits while the massive cost of the campaign should be going into fixing roads.
  • Stop wasting tax payer money on ads about nothing. Just change the sign and everyone will know.

Motorists pay tax and road user charges with the expectation that roads will be made safer. Wide-scale reductions in speed limits will be seen by many New Zealanders as an abdication of NZTA’s responsibility to improve road quality. When the Government then goes and funnels millions into condescending campaigns to congratulate itself for slowing New Zealanders down, you can see why people are switching off their TV sets.

The worst of it is that NZTA has budgeted a total of $197 million for its Road to Zero “education campaign” through to 2024. This money could have been spent on road safety improvements such as median barriers, but the Government has instead decided to spend the money annoying us all with dumb ads.

We say NZTA should hit the brakes on this condescending spending, and get back to the basics of fixing our roads.