MediaWorks chief content officer Andrew Szusterman doesn’t hesitate when asked why the company decided to revamp TV3.
“We’ve had that brand since 2003. Back then, the Nokia 3310 was the mobile phone of choice, Lorde was seven and Saddam Hussein was found hiding in a hole," he says.
"The point is that the world the brand lives in has changed. It was no longer fit for purpose.”
Along with all those things, TV3 has now been discarded to the annals of history, a memory that we will now only revisit in nostalgic video segments tracing the evolution of New Zealand television.
As is always the case with a major rebrand, various media organisations ran stories on the negative response viewers have had to the new brand.
This is to be expected. Humans tend not to like change, particularly when it involves something they’ve been looking at every day for the last 14 years.
But before long, that outrage—much of it expressed via social media—will subside. And in much the same way that consumers came to accept Spark and Newshub, in time, the Twitter barbs will eventually be pointed at something else (probably a Trump-supporting company).
Szusterman says the team didn’t take the decision to change the brand lightly and has wanted to do it for some time. However, the last 12 months haven’t exactly been the easiest for the media company, with a number of changes occurring around the executive table.
“MediaWorks has had three CEOs in the past year, so let's just say that we've kind of been distracted,” he says.
Alongside these staff shifts, MediaWorks has also been in launch mode over the last year, releasing the Newshub brand, announcing The Project and replacing The Paul Henry Show with The AM Show.
With all the new programming for the year now in place, Szusterman says it was the right time to launch the new brand.
Szusterman worked closely with MediaWorks head of marketing Andy Brown on a brief for the new brand and then handed this over to the creative team led by executive creative director Ant Farac.
Brown says that preliminary research showed that while New Zealanders loved the individual shows on the channel, there was no clear adhesive binding everything together. In some ways, major shows, such as 7 Days, were bigger brands than TV3.
“We really wanted to address this by building the glue that would fully stick everything together and become something that was bigger than the sum of its parts,” says Brown.
To do this, Brown says the new brand needed to be versatile enough to be equally congruent with both the serious news programming and the more light-hearted entertainment that Three airs.
The creative team responded by developing a brand identity that shifts to suit its environment.
“It’s playful and it's vibrant, but it morphs when it's with Family Feud, it's different to when it's with Newshub alongside Sam Hayes, and then it's different again of Grand Designs,” says Brown.
The ease of transition is on show in the promotional material, which showcases the brand using core MediaWorks talent in a variety of scenarios.
The hero ad is a vibrant, fast-paced series of clips that show the people who make up MediaWorks contributing to the totality of the brand.
In addition to running the introductory hero ad, MediaWorks has also taken this as an opportunity to share the brand story with both consumers and media and agency folk.
“This is not just a logo change,” says MediaWorks group head of communications Charlotte McLauchlan.
“This is a new world we have created and it was important to honour that with the right context and story so that we weren't launching into a vacuum.”
To take full advantage of the topicality of the rebrand, MediaWorks launched a 12-hour hype campaign yesterday that first saw the brand introduced to selected media in the morning. This was followed by media and agency types assemble for a lunch hosted at Silo Park, and then a first glimpse at the branding at 5.15pm.
“Our intention, of course, being that it would literally be everywhere you look, surrounded by the right messages and in a way that you would expect from a multimedia brand,” McLauchlan says.
The arrival of the new brand certainly didn’t go unnoticed, with readers of Stuff and the Herald weighing in on what they thought about the branding, many of whom levelled the criticism that MediaWorks was trying to be hip to appeal to the young’uns with the new look.
Szusterman expected this response and pointed out that Three is brand designed to appeal to 25- to 54-year-olds and that even those on the older side of that demographic are no strangers to bold imagery.
“If you think about it, a 54-year-old was 14 in 1978, and in that year the number one record was Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks,” Szusterman says.
“So this brand is definitely not too young for this age group. 54 is so different now from when it was a generation ago and the new look is not a big ask.”
And he has a point. If people are happy rocking out to lyrics like “We're the flowers in the dustbin/We're the poison in your human machine” then adjusting to a new brand should be a walk in the park.