You can't see the smoke for all the mirrors

RUSSEL HARDING
Last updated 10:51 22/10/2012

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News has it New Zealand is in the midst of a manufacturing crisis.

The production of two products in particular has ground to a halt and this is having serious repercussions for the Government. As a result, public confidence is being eroded.

Yes, at the moment it seems we're all out of "smoke" and that other most excellent of products, "mirrors".

You would have thought, with Lance Armstrong no longer using them, that there would be a glut of smoke and mirrors on the world market at present, but with the United States presidential elections in full swing, any oversupply has been quickly sucked up.

Joe Biden's teeth alone require more than their fair share of smoke and mirrors. White teeth like his don't happen by accident.

Luckily AIG was able to get hold of a handful of smoke and mirrors for the launch of its sponsorship deal with the All Blacks and the New Zealand Rugby Union.

But I understand they were looking for more. Somewhere there's a link between AIG and New Zealand and the All Blacks.

A few more mirrors here and a touch of smoke there may have made this link clearer.

The good news is the fly-on-the-wall, rat-on-the-floor reality TV series The Ridges ended this week, so plenty of smoke and mirrors will become available again.

Sally "I've got nothing to hide" and her daughter, "I've got nothing to lose" Jamie, enriched our lives with clever product placements and deep personal insights into the immense, intense, internal struggles that exist in today's complex world, or something like that.

Sometimes you get the mixture of smoke and mirrors wrong, and you can't see the mirrors for all the smoke, as in the "Agree/Disagree" campaign on plain packaging for cigarettes.

Clearly the cigarette companies have all the smoke they need. Perhaps a little more use of mirrors may help.

Luckily, the Shopping Channel, which has enlisted the services of Sally Ridge and her co-star, Monty Betham, sells plenty of shiny mirrors. And as the advertisement shows, with enough mirrors you can watch it all unfold from inside a nice, warm reality bath.

Also shining the mirrors and pumping the smoke are the latest television ads for BNZ. I'm sure you've seen them. Whether you realise they were ads for a bank is another question. You know the ones - where the American in the suit and with week-old stubble cryptically tells us: "Is money good? Is money bad? It's neither. It's what you do with it."

Why we have an American-made ad, with American actors walking down American streets into American businesses for an Australian-owned bank with New Zealand in its name, aimed at Kiwi customers is a little confusing.

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So too are ads in which banks moralise to their customers about money. Perhaps the global financial crisis was just a figment of our imaginations and banks had nothing to do with it.

Fewer mirrors and more smoke might have helped with this one, although what executives were smoking when they approved the campaign, is questionable. Perhaps an extra bonus will help clarify things.

All this demand for smoke and mirrors in the private sector has left the Government well short. What it would give right now for a fresh containerload.

Some say that was what our prime minister was looking for on his last trip to Hollywood but, like I said, Biden's teeth got in first.

The revelation this week that you can go into a Ministry of Social Development office and download all the departments' secrets was a little less than ideal. Perhaps government departments have taken the latest thinking on open-plan, open-source offices a little too far. It certainly puts the social into Social Development.

Privacy, is top of the Government's agenda. To begin with, it is frantically looking into the privacy of the prime minister. What he did or didn't say, and what he heard or didn't hear is like all conversations over a cup of tea surrounded by cameras and listening devices - private.

That Labour leader David Shearer may be the only one to lose his job over Kim Dotcom only adds to the rich irony of the tale. Even as I type that line, I expect the latest Dotcom developments to make the current storyline old news before this paper goes to print.

My money is on Dotcom actually being a character in the latest James Bond movie, and it's all been a carefully constructed campaign to increase ticket sales. Perhaps that's what the Hollywood trip was about. It seems as if this may be the only logical conclusion to the story.

So much smoke, so many mirrors. As the prime minister says, "In the end, perception is reality".

- Nelson

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