The last Massey University ad was the first in New Zealand to be filmed on an iPhone. And its latest campaign, the first television ad shot entirely on Massey’s Albany campus in its 20-year history, once again features vice-chancellor Steve Maharey talking up one of the innovations the university had a hand in: the Hulme Supercar.
In quintessential tertiary marketing style, the car, which is named after New Zealand’s only Formula One champion Denny Hulme and is described by one Massey professor as being capable of "rearranging your internal organs", is used to highlight the sort of innovation Massey inspires. And Albany students were somewhat startled to see their vice-chancellor driving the orange beast on campus for the ad, which was concocted by Assignment Group's Chris Bleackley and John Plimmer, with Miles Murphy from The Story Board on production.
"The Albany campus is coming of age," says Maharey. "We’ll celebrate its 21st birthday next year. Many people associate Massey with our campuses in Palmerston North and Wellington. Now’s the time to put the spotlight on Albany, the most modern campus in Auckland."
The University’s collective talents had a big hand in the development of the car, through chief designer and professor Tony Parker (associate pro vice-chancellor, College of Creative Arts), business advice from professor Christoph Schumacher (College of Business) and some of the engineering input led by associate professor Johan Potgieter from the School of Engineering and Advanced Technology (College of Sciences). However, Maharey says it is not just about cars.
"Massey calls itself the engine of the new New Zealand, creating and generating brilliant ideas and taking them to the rest of the world; we have many of these ideas and the Hulme Supercar is a perfect example," he says.
The new TVC will screen from Sunday. And here's the making of.
UPDATE: Massey's assistant vice chancellor external relations Cas Carter wouldn't specify if last year's iPhone ad led to an increase in student numbers, but she says it got plenty of hits on the website and, according to testing, plenty of awareness.
"It's broader than [student numbers]. We're definitely looking at increasing them, but we're also making people aware that we do a diverse range of things, like research and business."
She says Massey needs to use things in its ads that illustrate that diversity, but at the same time are "eye-catching and stay in people's minds".
"And the Super Car is a great story because it ties it all together."
Parker says the Hulme Supercar will be purchased by people who want the car to add to their private collection or for occasional use.
“It is more like a design and engineering work of art, something to be admired, displayed and appreciated. Most supercars complete very low mileage over their lifetime and are used infrequently. Our goal is to create a sustainable high quality, low volume vehicle design, manufacturing and marketing enterprise that would offer employment and economic benefits to New Zealand. The potential value of such an enterprise would be significant for New Zealand as a high profile demonstration of our design, technology, manufacturing and business capability. While the company itself may not be huge, its brand and PR value for New Zealand could be considerable as is the case with brands such as Ferrari, Lamborghini or Pagani.”
The Hulme Supercar’s managing director, Jock Freemantle, loaned the car to Massey for the shoot. His plan for the high performance car is that its next iteration will be built in New Zealand in limited numbers ensuring its exclusivity. The supercar is powered by a 600 BHP LS7- V8 engine.
“The supercar’s electrifying performance and spectacular looks give the driver an experience as close as possible to driving a Formula One car legally on the road,” he says.
The Schumacher connection
The car’s business manager professor Christoph Schumacher has developed an innovative way to raise the money needed to build a saleable car.
“What we’ve done is create a new business in which small investors can buy shares. If we can attract $1 million of investment, then the business will contract us to build a car,” Professor Schumacher explains. “They'll give us $1 million and we'll give them an amazing car – a car that we believe would sell to a wealthy overseas collector for around $1.5 million.
“We personally won’t make any money on the first car, but the second car will be cheaper for us to produce because we can re-use the moulds we’ve built. The investors, of course, could make a return of up to 50 percent.”
At this stage Professor Schumacher’s work on the Hulme supercar, like all those involved with the project, has been a labour of love. “With a name like Schumacher it was inevitable that I would love fast cars,” he says. “I’m happy to give my time to try and turn this beautiful car into a successful New Zealand business. Drive it and you will understand its beauty – its power rearranges your internal organs.”
And for the record, Schumacher’s family hail from the same German village that his potentially distant famous Formula One cousin, Michael Schumacher’s family are from.