Nielsen data shows Kiwi companies spent around $8.5 million on advertising for paint and strainers between September 2014 and August 2015, with established players Dulux and Resene contributing the lion's share of that figure.
That amount of money creates substantial marketing noise across all available platforms, meaning that a newcomer to the category could find it challenging to cut through and reach target consumers.
So when Valspar recently launched in the Kiwi market, it was looking for creative ideas that could deliver almost immediate brand awareness across the market. FCB kicked off this process by developing a TV campaign starring chameleons Donna and Kevin, and ever since the pair of colourful reptilians have been walking their way across Kiwi media and interrupting Kiwi viewers, readers and listeners.
In addition to performing a cameo on TVNZ* show Reno Rumble and taking over the Herald homepage with an interactive ad, Kevin and Donna also made an appearance in Sunday magazine as part of an execution that saw the Valspar brand integrated across numerous pages.
"FCB briefed us looking for a solution that would disrupt, earn attention and, as the 'future of paint', innovate in channels that are category battlegrounds," says Fairfax custom solutions director Susana Leitão. "Fairfax responded with a range of high-impact integration opportunities, developed by custom solutions and national sales in close collaboration with editorial."
Leitão says FCB and Fairfax collaborated throughout the process, but that final design and execution of the creative featuring in the magazine was left up to the editorial team.
"The editorial team came up with the magazine sections that would work best for this integration idea, sourced images and colours that would best showcase this and designed the executions," she says.
"The objective was to illustrate that colour inspiration can come from everywhere around us and that Valspar is the only paint brand that can deliver 'Any colour you want'. So, once the sections that would best suit this were established, the actual integration angles became pretty clear and straightforward to execute – which should be the case when an integration concept is on-target for a masthead and its audience."
Leitão says Fairfax has previously developed integration projects for Sunday magazine, but that this is the most elaborate execution done thus far.
"This is the first time we have extended this into so many sections of the magazine and woven it so completely into an issue, from front to back cover right through the magazine."
Tangible publisher John Baker said in a recent interview that "one of the great things about magazines is that advertising can add value to the experience," and this is clearly evident on the pages of fashion and lifestyle magazines but also in the case of clever integrated campaigns. Another example of clever integration, incidentally also developed in conjunction with FCB, is Home magazine's subtle campaign for not-for-profit organisation It's not OK that drew attention to the continued problem of domestic violence in new Zealand.
Featuring blood stains on a stairwell, knocked-over chairs have been knocked over and broken ceramics on the pages of what at first appears to be a profile on another beautiful abode, the campaign made the point that domestic violence affects Kiwis across socio-economic backgrounds.
While rare at this stage, Leitão believes clever integration projects will become more common in the future.
"You will be seeing more of this type of work, certainly from Fairfax, and from other publishers active in this area," she says. "Publishers have long recognised that magazines present a powerful medium for visual storytelling. It seems brands are recognising this increasingly too, as marketers look to engage and connect with their target audiences through content that entertains, informs and/or educates."
This of course raises the well-covered topic of the blurring of the lines between editorial and advertising, with many critics concerned that integration interferes with editorial independence. However, Leitão says most publishers disclose when something falls into the advertising category.
"The parameters for us are quite clear, in that we clearly badge the content to indicate there is a commercial interest involved. This badging includes labelling such as sponsored content, promotion and the advertiser's brand ... We work openly and constructively with editorial to create guidelines that protect our audiences and mastheads while developing opportunities for advertisers. Our recent appointment of Maria Ryan-Young as creative content editor (commercial) demonstrates both the importance we place on commercial content as a quality and growth product and its ongoing fit with our editorial product."
While optimistic about the growth potential of integration project, Leitão believes that the content produced should always be of interest to readers.
"As well as collaboration between media owner, agency and client, having the reader or end-user in mind is key," she says. "What will make this a genuinely engaging, entertaining or informative piece of content that justifies that reader's time and attention, that offers a value exchange."
*UPDATE: TVNZ has just sent through the clips of one of the Valspar chameleons interrupting Reno Rumble.