Stereotypes, heroes, celebrities: what to be aware of when marketing across the ditch

  • Research
  • May 24, 2017
  • StopPress Team
Stereotypes, heroes, celebrities: what to be aware of when marketing across the ditch

With businesses struggling to see why their campaigns perform differently in Australia and New Zealand, Kantar TNS embarked on a research project to find the answers. And last week, its ‘Optimising Trans-Tasman Communications Effectiveness’ report was released, which reveals some key insights for trans-Tasman marketers.

“We needed to find out whether there were key differences between Australian and New Zealand cultural constructs, the competitive landscape, the equity of brands in each market or even media consumption and digital attitudes and behaviour,” says qualitative director Nicola Stokell.

With the similarities between Kiwis and Australians often quite obvious—some shared history and values, a semi-integrated economy, a love of outdoors—the research looks into the differences and asks the question: ‘Why are we seeing such differences in terms of the communication effectiveness?’ and ‘Why do some Australian ads not travel well across the Tasman?’.

According to the release, this revealed more pronounced differences around areas such as the cultural stereotypes we aspire to, humour, and our heroes and celebrities that shed some light on the issue.

“As we know, typically, Australian stereotypes are more fun loving, cheeky, sarcastic and like to make fun of themselves. They are also more confident, brave and good at standing up for themselves,” Stokell says.

“On the other hand, Kiwi stereotypes stand out for their can do attitude and being environmentally conscious. They are also seen as more adventurous, hands-on, family focused and loyal.”

She adds a critical factor is that stereotypes can sometimes feel very different to how we actually see ourselves.

“It is the stereotypes that are often communicated in our advertising - typically an exaggerated expression of ourselves and our culture. The chances of disconnect are high if we can’t identify with what we see being communicated.”

Further differences were found in the views of heroes and celebrities. Australian heroes are high profile, demonstrate resilience, bravery, courage, confidence and are greatly admired, specifically for their ability to transform in the face of adversity. On the other hand, New Zealand heroes are typically everyday people, like a ‘mum and dad’ who are hard-working, loyal, caring and genuinely make a difference to their families and communities.

TV celebrities also have different profiles and reputations on opposite sides of the Tasman, and different celebrities can antagonise or win over different markets.

Stokell says these differences, when coupled with some proven truths about the competitive landscapes of the two countries, really start to provide valuable insights.

For example, the New Zealand market has less competitive intensity and is more price conscious than Australia.

“Confectionary brands in Australia and New Zealand provide a great example of how the competitive landscape is rarely the same and brands often have different levels of familiarity and engagement in New Zealand versus Australia,” Stokell says.

“Their campaigns also highlight that superficial changes to localise such as voiceover dialect and product shots are often not sufficient to improve relevance.”

Based on the research, Kantar TNS’s top five tips to improve the effectiveness of trans-Tasman communications are:

  • Challenge cultural assumptions – stereotypes differ from reality 

  • Identify a unifying insight early on in the creative process 

  • Differences in brand equity can impact a campaign’s ability to travel 

  • Understand the competitive set for your brands in each market 

  • Be specific – culturally ambiguous communications often fail to resonate

Copies of the ‘Optimising Trans-Tasman Communications Effectiveness’ report are available from Kantar TNS.

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