Holden’s mission to chop the mullet and restyle the brand

  • Advertising
  • October 31, 2017
  • Damien Venuto
Holden’s mission to chop the mullet and restyle the brand
Holden is targeting a range of different consumers as it looks to reinvent the brand.

Back in September, Holden assembled a crowd of media types for a pagan-inspired celebration of the equinox. It was a theme fully embraced by Holden general manager of corporate affairs Edward Finn, who addressed the crowd in full druid garb, resembling a slightly less hirsute version of a Tolkienian wizard.

The equinox, we were told, has been celebrated for thousands of years as a time of rejuvenation and as the precursor to warmer months.

For Holden, this theme of rejuvenation is important as the brand looks to make a strategic shift from its boganic heritage to a modern, urban target market. But this shift comes with significant risk.

If the brand is perceived to be turning its back on loyalists, then it will lose that business to one of the many competitors in the market. Similarly, if the shift is too lukewarm, it’ll do little to convince new consumers to give the brand a go—leaving Holden in a veritable dead zone somewhere between mullets one side and hipster beards on the other.

“Holden is deeply woven into the social fabric of New Zealand,” said Holden New Zealand managing director Kristian Aquilina on the night. “It is iconic and it has had deep meaning for a lot of people in this country over a long period of time.”

Much of this meaning has until now been attributed to the Commodore, which has for decades been the flagship model in the Holden range.

“So dominant was this, that Holden became Commodore and Commodore became Holden to the point where that dominance overshadowed all the other feathers we have in our cap: sweet convertibles, new Astra sports cars, a great SUV range and large trucks,” Aquilina said.

“We had the range but we couldn’t get past our association with the Commodore in people’s minds.”

Aquilina says this heavy association with the Commodore led to the whole Holden brand being perceived as “Westie” and probably more suitable for “grandad” among modern consumers.

“After calling it for what it is, we knew the job that was ahead of us.”

Holden isn’t the only brand to have faced this challenge, of course, with Aquilina pointing to the example of Burberry, which became intrinsically linked to Chav culture despite its high-end slant.

“This wasn’t the Burberry type of icon, was it?”

To shift the brand away from its uncomfortable associations with the past, Holden has changed the way in which it communicates the brand to the local market.

While this job is certainly not easy, Aquilina finds himself in a slightly better position than the Australian market, where an end to production at the Adelaide plant has created a major PR challenge for the business.     

Holden vehicles have not been produced in the local market since the early 1990s, which means Aquilina is in a somewhat privileged position of focusing on evolving the perception of the brand and showcasing the full breadth of the range without having to win back customer trust. 

This strategy is clearly evident in Holden's latest campaign by Special Group, which includes a series of 30-second spots all trumpeting different vehicles and starring a diverse array of drivers. A Kiwi bloke, a young in their early 20s, an animal lover and a caring friend all star in the spots, designed to highlight features and products that viewers might not be aware of. 

 

 

Viewed together, the message is clear: Holden is no longer a single-car brand for blokes, but rather a vehicle provider for a diverse array of New Zealanders. 

This campaign really builds on the groundwork the Holden marketing team, led by Marnie Samphier, has done over the last year.   

While some of the marketing messaging over that time has tended toward subtlety, other aspects have also attempted to make loud and clear statements.

The best example of this would be Holden’s April Fools’ prank earlier this year, which invited New Zealanders to trade their mullets for a new car. One lucky punter obliged and sacrificed his mullet to drive away in a $30,000 Astra. As far as symbolism goes, there could perhaps be no better metaphor for Holden’s intention than a scraggly mullet lying on the floor of the dealership.

This theme of the brand’s customers evolving also became apparent in Holden’s other recent TV campaigns, also by Special Group.

A late 2016 campaign showed a man trade in his 1980s rocker look for a more something a little suaver, while a more recent spot for the Holden ute shows a good Samaritan with a vigilante streak towing away the vehicle of rude driver.

The shifting positioning of the brand in these ads is in line with the evolution of masculinity in modern culture. It’s not about saying that masculinity is bad or wrong but rather that it’s expressed in different ways these days.

What’s more is that Holden isn’t only focused on blokes any longer. It’s also looking to tell the stories of car models that might appeal to younger women.

One way the brand has done this over the last year is by working with magazine publishers that are well read by the target market.  

The Carversations campaign, delivered through Paperboy, Fashion Quarterly, Miss FQ and Taste, featured young, influential New Zealanders driving around the city in a Holden Spark, talking about their careers. In addition, Holden also invested in Miss FQ’s Intern project, which saw 21-year-old Aucklander Ashleigh Ilton employed at the publication as an intern. Fittingly, she drove around in a Holden for the entire campaign.

Holden has also thrown its weight behind Newsroom, coming on as one of the founding sponsors of the Tim Murphy and Mark Jennings’ news brand.   

Combined, these initiatives are helping to shift the perception of the brand, while also showcasing the different models available in the range.

And as Holden announced its lineup for 2018, it’s notable that the star of the show was not the Commodore (as it has been in so many years before), but a new SUV, dubbed the Equinox.

Beyond pulling the Holden brand out of Commodore’s leather seats, this is also an important business decision for the brand.

Between 2014 and 2016, the Commodore has slipped from the second-best selling car model to the eighth. Motor Industry Association stats show that Holden sold 3,001 Commodores in 2014, down to 2,710 in 2015 and then to 2,455 in 2016.

While the New Zealand appetite for sedans is abating to some degree, Aquilina points to opportunity in the weekend warrior’s vehicle of choice.    

“The medium SUV segment is the largest and fastest-growing part of the new vehicle market, accounting for almost 17 percent of sales at the end of August year to date,” says Aquilina.   

“Holden is now in a position to debut an all-new nameplate into this important part of the market and will be taking the fight to established players with the launch of seven different specification levels of Equinox.”

At least as the brand takes the fight to its competitors, it won’t be at risk of a dirty mullet pull this time. 

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

#suffrage125: How media and brands are celebrating New Zealand's historic move

  • Advertising
  • September 19, 2018
  • StopPress Team
#suffrage125: How media and brands are celebrating New Zealand's historic move

Today is a proud day for New Zealand as we celebrate 125 years of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. StopPress looked around to see what media and brands in Aotearoa did to mark the occasion.

Read more

Changing faces of women in advertising

  • Voices
  • September 19, 2018
  • Georgia Middleton
Changing faces of women in advertising

It’s 2018. That’s 125 years since women in New Zealand have been recognised as equals in the eyes of democracy. But what’s the story of equality in advertising? It doesn’t take much research to find articles about the changing faces of women in advertising – and yes, things are changing. But the casual sexism, the call-outs and the cover-ups have sparked a different kind of debate. Is misogynistic advertising a thing of the past, or do seeds of it still exist? To answer that, I’ve looked at different portrayals of women to see how things were then…and now.

Read more

Sharks and lightning: expect the unexpected in LifeDirect's new campaign

  • Advertising
  • September 18, 2018
  • Georgina Harris
Sharks and lightning: expect the unexpected in LifeDirect's new campaign

Following the sad demise of mascot Simon the sloth, LifeDirect by Trade Me has gone for the humourously unexpected in its newest brand campaign by Y&R.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and StopPress have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

topics
Follow The Money
Follow The Money
Follow the money. It’s an axiom that journalists have believed in for years and a ...
Regional Rundown
Regional Rundown
StopPress takes a trip down the country to see who the audiences and agencies are ...
Beyond the Page 2018
Beyond the Page 2018
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Insight Creative
Insight Creative
Insight Creative specialises in shaping business stories out the core insights that often lie under ...
Beneath the Surface
Beneath the Surface
In this series, brought to you by Microsoft, we talk to a conceptual photographer, illustrator ...
20/20 (tele)vision
20/20 (tele)vision
Media consumption is changing. But by how much?
The Hot List
The Hot List
Our rundown of the hottest shows, brands and creators in New Zealand media. 1. magazine ...
Cannes Lions 2017
Cannes Lions 2017
All the winners, the shortlists and the drama from this year's edition of advertising biggest ...
Merger Mania
Merger Mania
All our stories on the nation's two failed mergers in one place
Bauer Beyond the Page
Bauer Beyond the Page
When it comes to creating branded content, there are few better in the Kiwi market ...
The Indies
The Indies
Over the course of this series of articles, we look at how always-nimble indy agencies ...
AdRoll on automation
AdRoll on automation
Marketing automation is tipped to eventually become the only way advertising is traded in the ...
Game Changers
Game Changers
It’s all about PEOPLE. Join us as we discuss global insights, ideas and innovations from ...
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
Celebrating all the winners of the 2015 TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards.
Future Tense
Future Tense
In a new series, StopPress talks to a range of newsmakers currently trying to shine ...
Beyond the Page
Beyond the Page
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Up Country
Up Country
In conjunction with News Works, the Up Country series talks with some of New Zealand's ...
Sounding off
Sounding off
As part of a content partnership with MediaWorks, we've asked a few of the company's ...
StopPress Podcasts
StopPress Podcasts
We sit down for a chat with industry leaders to find out what they're up ...

What's your mark of progress? ASB showcases its customers' stories

  • Advertising
  • September 18, 2018
  • StopPress Team
What's your mark of progress? ASB showcases its customers' stories

ASB has launched another round of its business banking campaign with True, and this time it's put the spotlight on its customers, with Pic’s Peanut Butter, Burger Burger, Farmlands and others sharing their business progress.

Read more

Ads of the week: 18 September

  • TVC of the week
  • September 18, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Ads of the week: 18 September

ASB, LifeDirect and Phloe show us how it's done.

Read more
voices

Social enterprise shows how VR can save New Zealand's endangered birds

  • Technology
  • September 18, 2018
  • Elly Strang
Social enterprise shows how VR can save New Zealand's endangered birds

For Conservation Week this week, social enterprise Squawk Squad and virtual reality studio M Theory have joined forces to go into the classroom and get children excited about saving New Zealand’s native birds through VR technology. The experience takes the viewer through a forest journey alongside a robin bird, who encountering friends and predators along the way.

Read more
Follow the money, part three: Where New Zealand's news media is finding pots of funding gold
features

Follow the money, part three: Where New Zealand's news media is finding pots of funding gold

Follow the money. It’s an axiom that journalists have believed in for years and a guiding light when it comes to holding the powerful to account. But that phrase is increasingly pertinent to those who run media businesses. As advertising money flows away from traditional channels towards large tech firms, the old business model of selling space around the news is creaking. And that has led to a range of experiments from publishers and broadcasters hoping to keep the lights on – and to keep shining those lights into dark places. Erin McKenzie dives into the local news media feed and finds plenty of experiments, but no simple answer to the funding conundrum.

NZME secures eight News Media Awards in Australia: News Corp leads winners

  • Awards
  • September 17, 2018
  • StopPress Team
NZME secures eight News Media Awards in Australia: News Corp leads winners

NZME was the most successful New Zealand brand at the News Media Awards in Sydney last week, with News Corp topping the honours taking home 2018 News Brand of the Year.

Read more

Seat appoints DDB to rev up its presence

  • Advertising
  • September 17, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Seat appoints DDB to rev up its presence

After launching in New Zealand last year, Spanish car brand Seat has appointed DDB as its creative agency to grow its presence in the local market. DDB's garage is now home to Volkswagen and Seat.

Read more

Connon Bray: "The debate was misdirected"

  • Voices
  • September 17, 2018
  • Connon Bray
Connon Bray: "The debate was misdirected"

TRA partner Connon Bray weighs in on the Byron Sharp versus Mark Ritson debate, deciding both marketing giants are wrong.

Read more
Digitising New Zealand's SME community: Yellow launches marketing subscription service
Sponsored content

Digitising New Zealand's SME community: Yellow launches marketing subscription service

“It’s not a matter of if, but when,” says Yellow chief marketing officer Bruce Pilbrow on businesses undergoing a digital transformation. For the past 60 years, it’s been serving New Zealanders and their businesses alongside its own transformation and now it’s ready to impart that experience onto SMEs.

Brett Henshaw appointed managing director of Fonterra Brands, New Zealand

  • Advertising
  • September 17, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Brett Henshaw appointed managing director of Fonterra Brands, New Zealand

The Fonterra Co-operative has a new managing director of Fonterra Brands, New Zealand in Brett Henshaw.

Read more

TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2018: Kevin Bowler inducted into Marketing Hall of Fame

  • Awards
  • September 14, 2018
  • StopPress Team
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2018: Kevin Bowler inducted into Marketing Hall of Fame

The ability to tackle change head-on is a trait most successful people share. And throughout his career, Kevin Bowler has never shied away from a challenge.

Read more

OMD wins SkyCity jackpot

  • Advertising
  • September 14, 2018
  • StopPress Team
OMD wins SkyCity jackpot

OMD has won the SkyCity media account following a competitive pitch, with work commencing immediately.

Read more

Summer's coming: The Warehouse launches refreshed TVCs

  • Advertising
  • September 14, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Summer's coming: The Warehouse launches refreshed TVCs

The Warehouse is taking a refreshed approach to its marketing, with its latest TVC by DDB promoting a new attitude and new goals for its customers.

Read more
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About

StopPress provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2018 ICG Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise

Contact Vernene Medcalf at +64 21 628 200 to advertise in StopPress.

View Media Kit