Dancing Cossacks advertisement

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"Dancing Cossacks" advertisement
Dancing Cossacks advert.gif
The infamous scene from the advertisement featuring dancing Cossacks
Agency Colenso
Client New Zealand National Party
Running time 2 minutes, 48 seconds
Release date(s) 1975
Country New Zealand

The "Dancing Cossacks" television advertisement was a 1975 electoral advertisement for the New Zealand National Party, produced by advertising agency Colenso. The first half of the advertisement was animated by Hanna-Barbera, with the second half featuring National Party leader Robert Muldoon. The advert was produced to be highly critical of the governing New Zealand Labour Party's recently introduced compulsory superannuation scheme, implying the scheme would eventually turn New Zealand into a Soviet-style communist state, and urged people to vote for National in the upcoming general election.[1][2]


The Third Labour Government introduced the compulsory superannuation scheme in 1974, with the scheme beginning on 1 April 1975. Every employee aged between 17 and retirement age would have 4% of their gross wage deducted, with this deduction matched by their employer and paid to the Superannuation Corporation. The Superannuation Corporation would bank the money received in individual accounts, and would contribute money to individual accounts earned by investments on its own part. When the person reached retirement, their money would gradually be paid out of their account back to them as income. In many respects, the scheme was similar to the modern KiwiSaver scheme, introduced by the Fifth Labour Government in 2007; however, unlike the 1975 scheme, KiwiSaver is voluntary and investments are carried out by multiple providers, with Inland Revenue responsible only for collection and on-payment.

The National Party, however, saw the scheme as socialist, and claimed that the government, through the Superannuation Corporation, would eventually end up controlling a large proportion of the country's property and shares. The compulsory superannuation scheme subsequently became a major issue approaching the 29 November general election.[3]


The three-minute advert starts by claiming the compulsory superannuation scheme was a poor April Fool's joke (referencing the introduction of the scheme on April 1), and Labour did not tell the full story of the scheme, including that the scheme would not pay out until 2028 and not at all to housewives, people aged over 55 or those on Social Security. The advert then explains that Labour would soon be deducting money from wage earners and spending it, and in seven years, they would have enough money to buy all the shares in every company in New Zealand, followed by every farm and then the whole country.

Following this, the narrator says, "And you know what that's called, don't you?" Then, several Cossacks dance across the screen in front of a concerned-looking man, representing the Soviet Union and to imply the answer to the question was communism (despite the fact that the Cossacks were traditionally opponents to the communist Bolsheviks).

The advert then cuts to National Party leader Muldoon, who explains if National was elected to government following the election, it would repeal the compulsory superannuation scheme and replace it with its "fairer" and universal National Superannuation, explaining its benefits, and then urging people to vote National. The advert ended with the National Party logo and its campaign slogan: "New Zealand. The way YOU want it".[1][2]


Even though the advert played only twice on New Zealand television, it became both a famous and infamous part of New Zealand's political advertising history.[1][2]

As a result of the advert and other campaigning against Labour's compulsory superannuation scheme, the National Party won the election by a landslide, gaining 55 of the 87 seats in the New Zealand House of Representatives. Within three weeks of taking office, the new National government, as promised, abolished the compulsory superannuation scheme and replacing it with National Superannuation.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "Dancing Cossacks, 1975 – Journalists and politicians: an uneasy relationship – Media and politics". Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "Dancing Cossacks political TV ad – New Zealand History Online". New Zealand Ministry of Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  3. ^ a b Gaynor, Brian (22 September 2007). "Brian Gaynor: How Muldoon threw away NZ's wealth". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 20 July 2012.

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