We're at about the halfway point for the annual Bird of the Year feathered popularity poll run by Forest & Bird. Last week I talked about the poll in general, some of the history and past campaign managers, and how every year the campaign managers are upping the ante to gain the most votes.
This week I'd like to follow the adage of "show, don't tell" and let you see for yourself the kinds of shenanigans that our campaign managers have been up to in order to push "their" bird over the line. While we're at it, I'd like to nominate some of the campaign managers for some awards for their efforts.
The Nadzeya Ostapchuk Award for performance enhancement
This obviously goes to the takahe - which, let's face it, is like a pukeko on steroids.
The '3 Chinese government official' photoshop award
Based on the internet-famous image of three Chinese government officials who'd been photoshopped (very badly) into an image where they in fact appear they are floating on a road (spurring an internet-meme that resulted in hundreds of hilarious replications - you can see the best of them on this video).
This award also highlights the vociferous nature of this year's BOTY campaign, since a campaign manager (who shall remain nameless) tweeted that he'd discovered an incriminating photo that would surely throw writer/commentator David Slack out of the running...
I'm nominating David for the award (even if the image isn't true, but he has neither confirmed nor denied at this point), because he also deserves a mention for bombarding his online followers with so much kokako propaganda that one of his mates threatened to start a "Kokako recipe" Facebook page if he didn't cease and desist.
The sugar and spice and all things nice award
To Rachel Anderson-Smith, campaign manager for kaka, who managed to get her neighbourhood to participate in a kaka campaign video, not to mention roping in Zealandia staff to pose with kaka posters, getting Victoria University to use their video screen noticeboard to promote her campaign, and the clincher - getting a campaign video produced entirely in NZ sign language - a sterling effort.
The Keith Richards rock 'n' roll hall of fame award
TB Free NZ have launched their campaign by mostly plagiarising Neil Young, with the theme "Keep on rocking in a predator free world" - not a bad effort, and they've also created a web-page to tell their stakeholders all about their campaign. Reasons they suggest for voting NZ robins (they've opted for North and South Island robins) include: "They're smart: Robins have the highest numerical competency of any recorded wild animal".
Runner-up goes to Gareth Hughes for his Rockhopper campaign, where he claims the rockhopper penguin is the "rockstar of the bird world".
The Glen McGrath 'sledging' award
There's been plenty of that, but I do think that Claire Trevett (from the NZ Herald) deserves a mention for accusing other campaign managers of all kinds of shenanigans (including mocking Russel Norman for changing his favourite bird every year), and for pushing for her bird (skua) by pointing out the bird's grossest habits - which include that the skua harasses other birds until they vomit. She has also been a far better unofficial campaign manager for skua than Te Radar, the official one. Which reminds me that he should get a nomination for a Mr Invisible award.
Russel Norman for a smooth and suave campaign poster for his ruru campaign.
The Chris Brown Award for extreme tattoo
I wasn't sure that Jackson could beat last year's effort where he donned an actual saddle and offered Wellington people rides on his back if they voted for saddleback. This year he has produced a video, published a book of saddleback poetry, but in the most ambitious campaign stunt yet, he got a tattoo of his chosen bird!!
The master of having the last word, the indefatigable Graeme Hill, has responded to Jackson's tieke tattoo madness with the comment that he would "open a tattoo removal clinic called The Grey Warbler and laugh my head off when Jackson comes through the door to get his tattoo removed in ten years' time".
Here's a mishmash of some of the campaign posters so far...
follow #birdoftheyear for more exciting updates... have you voted yet? Who'd you vote for and why? Does your bird represent your personality?