Kiwi Cultural Code #2: Individuality and self-determination

  • Voices
  • June 27, 2018
  • Colleen Ryan
Kiwi Cultural Code #2: Individuality and self-determination

The nation’s baby has arrived and it’s a girl – go girl power! You couldn’t make up how well this story is playing out in a cultural context. But there are some interesting tensions in the nation’s response which reflect our deep-seated belief in the right to self-determination and the value we place on individualism.

Jacinda and Clarke’s baby touches so many cultural issues—feminism, parenting, our political structure (a deputy PM we didn’t elect), trends in baby names and so much more.

Meanwhile, across the Pacific a different face of self-determination was paraded by Melania Trump and her I really don’t care jacket. A fast response by clothing company Wildfang saw them produce their jacket: “I really care, don’t you”, selling out within an hour. This is cultural disruption played out on a very public stage and is palpable evidence of a cultural tilt that at the very least rivals technological disruption, if not exceeding it in regard to its impact on brands.

It is stark warning for companies who are in danger of being caught heads down controlling their rising fear of technological disruptions, and missing the threats and opportunities that cultural disruption poses. It’s good to see Wildfang are heads up, looking out of the window and thinking how cultural and social disruption of tsunami-like proportions might utterly change customer behaviour.

Having a baby while in the highest public office and wearing clothing that says what you feel (even if it is unconscious in the latter case) are both acts of self-determination and individualism. What’s more, they shine a light on what makes our respective national cultural codes very different. In New Zealand self-determination is coupled with “don’t make a song and dance about it”, “don’t rock the boat” and “support the collective good”. Currently, Brand Jacinda’s personality is largely achieving that, though whether it will continue longer-term when her baby becomes one of her distinctive assets is yet to be seen.

I’ll do me, you do you – but let’s not do sameness

What the Kiwi cultural DNA around self-determination and individualism does tell us is that this is a very fertile place for brands to play, specifically because there are tensions meaning we can create frission that breaks through the sameness of many categories.

But, for example, the climate of frictionless design seems to run counter this. The frictionless world that the ‘wind tunnel’ approach to UX design (which is why every car marque has a near identical looking car in the same model band) produces is not where we will find the edginess of self-determination that runs deep in the Kiwi psyche.

Nor will we find it by celebrating sameness. We have an increasingly diverse population in every sense – gender and ethnicity for example, plus different value structures as Millennials and Gen Z work out what kind of life they are aspiring to both personally and for society in general. And as regards value structures, many new immigrant New Zealanders come from societies where collectivism rather than individualism is the core belief. So our uniquely Kiwi version of individualism that combines with a belief in the importance of the collective makes for harmony but also creative opportunity.

Self-determination in brands

That we celebrate individualism in New Zealand adds fuel to the debate around personalised and tailored products and services, but that misses the point about what is unique about Kiwi individualism. Because it is coupled with the idea of self-determination (meaning that I am a unique individual but also that I am actively selecting and forging my own way), the fertile ground is about how the brand speaks to that ‘doing it my way’ mentality.

As an example, when Sonny Bill Williams chose to cover the BNZ logo on his jersey with tape, people respected his right to reject a banking system that didn’t align with his beliefs, but rejected how he did it. It undermined the collective of the team because it played out on the pitch instead of dealing with the issue beforehand. Whereas BNZ hit exactly the right note with its response when they acknowledged his right to his beliefs and supplied an unbranded shirt. Bang on code.

Vogel’s also spoke to self-determination with their TVC making individuality the hero and celebrating self-determination. Vogel’s is an iconic Kiwi brand, but just as we are seeing the essence of what makes a New Zealander evolve in response to global shifts and changes in our society, so too must brands stay culturally relevant. Acknowledging to Kiwis that you ‘get them’ in all their different manifestations is the single best way to do that. The Vogel’s ad celebrated dignified difference, not sameness, and spoke to individualism behind closed doors not worn on the back of a jacket.

Cultural relevance isn’t the only thing brands need to consider. Speaking to core human needs is important, of course, so is designing good customer experience and UX,  but none of that will resonate without being culturally on code and relevant. It’s why the big global brands are moving away from centralization and back to localisation.

On air at the moment, the Mitre 10 donkey ad pulls no punches as regards the right to be quirky, even weird in pursuit of what matters to you. A celebration of difference that touches the heart. And that’s the point, emotion. All of the examples above fire an arrow to the heart and they helped to do that by recognising the uniqueness of being a Kiwi.

I see you, I know you

Understanding what makes Kiwis tick is a shortcut to recognition. Nothing makes us feel better than seeing ourselves in the metaphorical mirror. It speaks to a core human need whereby the world is not so scary if it’s familiar, if I’m surrounded by people like me. It’s why expats hang out together. And it provides a safety net for us to experience new ideas.

But the times they are a changing and that roguish, anti-authoritarian streak that Kiwis love to see in themselves is evolving. We are still a nation of individualists, self-determined and proud of our ‘live and let live’ approach to life, but cultural disruption is testing us and we are hanging on tightly to our belief in the good of the collective. The brands that get that will hit the emotional bullseye.

  • Colleen Ryan, head of strategy at TRA
  • * The Kiwi Cultural Codes was a collaborative project between TRA and True. 

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.

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

Follow the money, part four: 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.

Ogilvy's senior line up changes with chief creative officer and executive creative directors

  • Advertising
  • September 20, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Ogilvy's senior line up changes with chief creative officer and executive creative directors

Ogilvy has announced a number of senior moves, with Regan Grafton promoted to the role of chief creative officer while Lisa Fedyszyn and Jonathan McMahon become joint executive creative directors.

Read more

Radio survey: total audience tuning into radio waves remains stable

  • Media
  • September 20, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Radio survey: total audience tuning into radio waves remains stable

Its radio survey time again and in the third round for 2018, 3.66 million New Zealanders have been found to listen to radio each week, with The Edge seeing the biggest audience.

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 ...

Colleen Ryan: from wolf whistles to Ritson and Sharp

  • Voices
  • September 20, 2018
  • Colleen Ryan
Colleen Ryan: from wolf whistles to Ritson and Sharp

TRA partner Colleen Ryan takes a final look at the Byron Sharp versus Mark Ritson debate, looking at the power of remembering a well-marketed brand.

Read more
The art of story finding
Sponsored content

The art of story finding

There’s some often cited research that says we’re 22 times more likely to recall a story than we are a fact. But when you’re dealing in branded content, perhaps a more useful way to consider this information is that we’re 22 times more likely to recall a fact when it’s wrapped in a story. In this episode, we’re looking at how to put your audience at the centre of your story and letting them experience your brand for themselves.

voices

My Food Bag cooks up August's Ad Impact Award winner

  • Advertising
  • September 20, 2018
  • StopPress Team
My Food Bag cooks up August's Ad Impact Award winner

With a change of season upon us, August saw a new range of TVCs being tested. While there were plenty on show, it was My Food Bag with its 'Dinner Makes Families' TVC by Saatchi & Saatchi that picked up the Colmar Brunton Ad Impact Award.

Read more
A New Zealand Original: Streaming services embrace in-house content
features

A New Zealand Original: Streaming services embrace in-house content

As online streaming services slowly replace broadcast television as the preferred way to watch TV, the ways in which content is developed are also changing. Streaming services are boasting ‘original’ content, with the banner, ‘Netflix Original’, becoming synonymous with edgy or ground-breaking content, created free from the bounds of traditional broadcast media. Now, slowly but surely, Lightbox is getting in the game.

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

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

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
  • StopPress Team
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

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

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
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