Hollywood glam works for the Greens – and the Herald

EditorNews Make a Comment

Bauer flagship title North & South has won a legion of new Green friends with its latest cover feature, a Vanity Fair-style photoshoot of the Green Party candidates – enough story potential to interest the Herald, which ran 200 words and the cover on A8 yesterday.

“It’s an Annie Leibovitz-style photo and we are really excited about it,” co-leader Metiria Turei told the newspaper.

The images feature the Greens in slinky evening wear, suits and ties. “I’m no pushover,” said new candidate Golriz Ghahraman (an Auckland barrister and 15th on the party list), responding to a reader who questioned the pose with the males standing while the women were seated.

“I’m not oppressed,” she said. “And I have been a Green for years now. I’m also wearing a sparkly green dress and sitting on the floor.

“I feel lucky that I live in a land where I can wear what I like, be a powerhouse, and play dress up when I like.”

Priority list
North & South editor Virginia Larson told M+AD: “I wanted senior writer Mike White to talk to the Greens because environmental problems (water quality in particular), transport woes in our cities and the Auckland housing crisis all look set to be key election issues – and not just with millennials.

“When the Canterbury river you swam in as a child has dried to a trickle because of industrial-scale irrigation, or you can’t imagine your kids ever owning a house in Auckland – well, as a voter, those issues start ticking up your priority list.

“Our readership skews older and is well represented in the regions; it also includes a swathe of more conservative thinkers/voters.

“So, how to capture their interest in a cover-story on the Greens, who they quite likely still associate with dreadlocked Nandor Tanczos, Sue Bradford brandishing her megaphone, and a following of homespun hippie tree-huggers.

“The Greens have changed – and we decided to amplify that change by dressing them in formal clothing and, yes, unapologetically borrowing from the Vanity Fair-Annie Leibovitz ‘group cover’ toolbox, with a good dash of Hollywood glam.

“I presented this idea to Claire Rorke, the Greens’ political and media advisor. She also knew Mike White would be asking the tough questions. So I have to credit Metiria Turei and James Shaw for both agreeing to lengthy, probing interviews – and being willing to be dressed, coiffed and made up for a glossy cover-shoot.

“North & South art director Jenny Nicholls took over – briefing stylist Louise Hilsz, who organised the clothes, shoes and jewellery for the six women, ties for the men, also the furniture.

Maestro of lighting
“Jenny commissioned Auckland photographer Toaki Okano, who she’s worked with before on North & South and Metro shoots. She calls him the ‘maestro of studio lighting … he’s also a master at arranging complex groups of people, in an efficient and painless way!’

“We shot the cover at Toaki’s Mt Albert studio; Claire staggered arrivals so we could manage hair, make-up and dressing in an orderly fashion (we hired three makeup/hair people).

“Jenny said the eight MPs and candidates were ‘great sports’, who happily went along with Louise’s sartorial suggestions and Toaki’s directions.”

The set
Of the set, Jenny Nicholls says: “We planned a parchment backdrop with black clothing and spot colour – emerald green, naturally. A complex image like this, with many elements including coverlines, needed to be kept under tight colour control to prevent it flying apart visually.”

Larson: “We shot the cover, in a number of combinations, settling on the two co-leaders, James and Metiria, joined by four of the new candidates. We also shot the four top-ranked Greens (James, Metiria, Marama Davidson and Julie Anne Genter), a pic we used in the story; and the opening double-page spread of the eight MPs and candidates. (We had nine Green MPs and candidates at the shoot.)

‘Baffled’ by social media
“We were very happy with the shoot – somewhat baffled by the social media comments questioning why, on the cover, the women are sitting while James Shaw and John Hart stand.

“You could argue we have four women on the cover and only two men; or the women take centre-stage while the men are in the background! But that’s Twitter for you …

“There was an element of fun and surprise to the cover-shoot, which our subjects – and most of those commentating on the cover – thankfully seem to have understood.

Advertiser response
“We’ve not yet had direct response from advertisers, but our commercial brand manager, Florence Hine, says it’s been very well received by clients she’s been speaking to this week.”

Share this Post