Forget the snow-capped hills and crackling fires of our Northern Hemisphere neighbours, December in New Zealand is a time for sandy toes, salt sprayed hair, jandal tan lines, and barbecue lunches. And to accommodate this distinct holiday imagery, advertising agencies over the years have tailored their approach to campaigning in a bid to appeal to New Zealand’s sun-obsessed masses. So from the ridiculously weird to the downright ingenious, we look back at some of the best summer-themed ads this country has produced.
The great summer conundrum
The line that divides streetwear and swimwear is a notoriously tricky one to distinguish. Thankfully, Tip Top produced a handy guide to this tough balancing act with its 2006 Trumpet ad. Humorous, memorable, and easily quotable, this Colenso BBDO and The Sweetshop creation features one budgie-smuggler-clad man’s misguided trepidation from beach to streets, while a helpful running commentary informs us of when our fateful protagonist reaches his point of no return. In the water? Togs. On the sand? Togs. In a supermarket aisle? Undies, no questions. Also worthy of inclusion from the same campaign, the perfect hair whip, how to go in the ocean and how to suck your tummy in.
The great summer fit
Continuing with the theme of ‘less is more’ when it comes to summer fashion, Kiwi men in the seventies were liberated from their oppressive attire with the introduction of stubbies. Often only available in one colour (brown) and one size (too small), stubbies became an icon of Kiwi summer fashion—as did the bottle of L&P in the palm of their hand. Created by Meares Taine, directed by Adam Stevens and voiced over by the monotonous charm of Jemaine Clement, the ad chronicles an important—albeit happily passed—episode in New Zealand fashion history.
The great summer catch
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime; teach a man how to bungy fish and he might just get cast in a TV commercial. While not specifically summery, the Instant Kiwi spot, which was directed by Once Were Warrior’s Lee Tamahori for Flying Fish, combines two great New Zealand summer pastimes—fishing and jumping off things. Fishing has never been so hands on.
The great summer ride
In this Toyota ad by Saatchi & Saatchi and Flying Fish, it’s dad to the rescue as he builds a gigantic flying fox stretching from bach to shore for his young son. It’s another one for the nostalgia memory bank, although in hindsight it does seem like an unmitigated health and safety disaster. But it’s the do-it-yourself, entrepreneurial spirit that counts, right?
The great summer fix
DIY, after all, is in our DNA (and it goes better with sun). Or at least that’s according to Mitre 10, which use the cuteness of children and the company’s ‘give-it-a-go’ values to indulge in a bit of Trans-Tasman banter. Created by FCB and shot by Exposure, the ad highlights the complex realities of sandpit politics in a modern school environment. Kids these days, huh?
The great summer roadtrip
Apparently New Zealanders are among the world's highest per capita consumers of ice cream, so it's no surprise there are a few of them in this list. And in a throwback to simpler times when generic boppy music and a cast of wide-smiling teeth were all you needed for an ad campaign, this Trumpet spot from the 1980s is notable for being the first TV appearance for Rachel Hunter—model, actress, national treasure, and one-time Rod Stewart spouse.
The great summer listicle
There's nothing more nostalgic and summery than the soothing strum of a guitar and heavy-handed use of lens flare. Excellent use of the ol' leather burn on the back of the thigh.
The great summer mascot
In this simple yet effective rural fire prevention campaign, Bernie the fire manager hops across the country "working overtime" to keep New Zealanders safe. It made rainbow fire signs (and Bernie himself) an iconic sight on New Zealand roads, although one question remains about this cleverly devised mascot: where exactly does Bernie's nose end and begin?
The great summer shindig
Back in the good ol' days when the sun shone bright, fridges sat outside and fence hopping was a common practice, tasteless, mainstream beer—in this case, DB Export Gold—just tasted better.
The great summer surprise
Beating the Ice Bucket Challenge by about 35 years (and potentially foreshadowing the popularity of salted everything by showing underwater Fruju consumption), this classic Tip Top ad shows the joy of a dip in ol' briny and is all about the build up. 'It's gonna hit ...' Excuse me, what's gonna hit?' 'It's gonna it ... 'Sorry, what's going to hit? 'It's gonna hit ya!' Also worth a watch, this 'Ooh, Aah' variation and also this video of cats getting ice cream headaches.
The great summer song
Preemptive? Perhaps. But the combination of clever lyrics and canny acting makes Air New Zealand's latest campaign a strong contender for future Kiwi summer classic. Zeitgeist wunderkind Julian Dennison and former boy band member-turned-reality show judge
Roman Ronan Keating pair up to concoct the world's first Christmas carol featuring the line "dodging heaps of prickles with your nan".
The great summer snarler
What list of New Zealand ads with a sometimes-loose connection to summer would be complete without sausages. We've got a soft spot for Leigh Hart and his pratfalling promotional work, although what a wasted opportunity for Hellers not to invest in a sausage car (or, even better, a full-blown burger car).
The great summer croon
When New Zealand zigs with its cornucopia of southern hemispherical summer scenes, Vince Martin (aka The Beaurepaires Man) zags and embraces the wintery north. Yes he's wearing a scarf, yes he's walking through snow, and yes there are cartoon rabbits frolicking in front of our very eyes like some acid trip gone terribly wrong. But that gentle quavering festive croon will melt even the coolest of Tip Top Trumpets.
Agree? Disagree? Can add credits? Have any better suggestions to add to our extremely definitive list? If so, comment below ...