The Great StopPress 'Year in the Rear': our take on 2015—and a chance to vote for your favourites
You didn’t ask. But we answered anyway. So, to celebrate the last day of the StopPress season for 2015, we’ve looked back on the year and compiled an extremely definitive list of the big pitches, the big ideas, the big balls, the big stoushes, the big moves and the big whoopsies. So long, and thanks for all the clicks dear readers. We’ll be back destroying lies and spreading truth on January 11. May your leisure be unbridled.
A massive year of marketing for the airline, which really played the local card hard to deal to fce up to more local competition from Jetstar and more international competition from the likes of Qantas and American Airlines. With a new brand campaign, lots of clever innovation, more awards for customer service, plenty of All Blacks action, an impressive 75th anniversary effort and a recent focus on its partnership with DoC, it led led to some impressive financial results and a whole heap of brand love. That's definitely worth drinking before 5pm.
Lewis Road Creamery
While it's small, it's an attention/revenue generating machine. Founder Peter Cullinane has been very outspoken about the need for New Zealand companies to start charging a premium rather than playing the volume game. And his own company is great example of a modern brand with great products that uses social media and PR to do just that.
The big wigs kept saying the rebrand was more than a name change. And it’s walked the talk this year, with a host of new products, a new approach to its marketing with ideas like Spark Lab and Spark Life 2025, and a fair bit of momentum in the market.
With some typically clever new product development, some great campaigns and a firm retention of the founders’ values, you can see why it’s been the most trusted brand since the beginning of time. The many thousands of fans even seem to praise it for its honesty if it announces a price rise.
Banks generally make money like cows make milk. But ASB has been the most innovative of the bunch in terms of its comms. Its approach to sponsorship stood out (whether for the All Blacks, the ASB Open or the Auckland Marathon), its Clever Kash idea (while still a prototype) was brilliant, and simple things like being able to flick a switch on an app to put a hold on your credit card continued its innovative legacy.
Craft beer is growing like topsy. And it’s tough to stand out. But Garage Project, which was a worthy winner of the Deloitte Fast 50 this year, has shown that when you provide a good product and back it up with clever packaging, you can hit the jackpot.
Big media had a tough year, with rolling restructures across the board. And while it’s still small in comparison—and while the commercial model based around sponsored sections is still unproven—media nerds around the country were all talking about The Spinoff this year. Duncan Greive and his team of talented writers have been keeping readers engaged all year, with some of the highlights being a brilliantly researched piece on the Scout debacle, Alex Casey’s takedown of Dom Harvey’s gross tweets and a range of quality stunt journalism.
The Brangelina award for best client-agency partnership
Air New Zealand and True
If there were an award for sheer number of campaigns, the partnership between True and Air New Zealand would be close. With new competition on local and international routes, Air New Zealand ramped up its marketing this year and released a flurry of ads to show just how Kiwi it is. And True delivered the goods.
ASB and Saatchi & Saatchi
While not as prolific as the previous contender, ASB and Saatchi & Saatchi also had a very strong year. Alongside its All Blacks sponsorship (which involved some letter swapping), the brand also released the digital version of Kashin the moneybox and also continued to embrace emerging social media channels like Snapchat.
V Energy and Colenso BBDO
Generally, agencies don’t touch the product and focus instead on how to promote what already exists. However, this unwritten rule didn’t apply to the partnership between Colenso and V Energy. The agency has throughout the course of the year changed the colour of cans, integrated Jono and Ben into the design and, most recently, replaced the logo with other letters of the alphabet. And in addition to messing with the product, the agency has also been given the freedom to continue its tradition of outrageous stunts by having consumers use mind over matter to lift a cargo container. Creative leashes this long are difficult to find in the industry.
While it wasn’t the fault of the local arm of VW, the scandal also had local repercussions, affecting not only sales but also the integrity of a brand that had taken decades to develop. As Volkswagen New Zealand general manager recently told NZ Marketing: “I was just gutted by what was going on and I think I said that in one of the interviews. We’ve worked our guts out here and I’m really disappointed. I’m willing to work through it, but I’m really disappointed for customers. As opposed to trying to put some gloss on it and saying that everything’s good and rosy, I said it’s not good and rosy. It’s like a mate cheating on you.”
NZ Pork took us back to the 1950s with an ad that called on guys to help with the cooking. The spot was premised on a sound insight that women continue to do more of the cooking in the house, but the execution delivered a strong cringe factor and the public promptly whipped out their pitchforks.
I Love Ugly
Featuring a fully clothed man groping a naked woman, the I Love Ugly campaign was never going to win over the Kiwi public. It sparked a fair amount of outrage on social media, and columns were filled with extensive musings on objectification. Then, rather than taking the generic brand response of pulling the campaign and apologising for the indiscretion, the brand released a follow-up ad that simply reversed the roles of the headless protagonists in the ad. The campaign also rubbed further salt in the wounds of those offended by the campaign, because I Love Ugly went on to sell out many of the rings featured in the campaign.
With the explosion of online streaming this year, Call Plus Group (which was later acquired by M2) gave its customers backdoor access to geo-locked international sites through its Global Mode offering. But the big media players—Sky, MediaWorks, TVNZ and Spark—weren’t having any of it and initiated legal action, which eventually led to the Call Plus backing down and pulling the service.
MediaWorks vs. journalists
MediaWorks’ decision to pull Campbell Live and then 3D has led to online petitions, boycotts, salacious articles and a consistent stream of outrage. It certainly hasn’t been the best year in the popularity department for the media company.
Publishers vs ad blockers
Ad-blocking software is becoming more and more popular, depriving media publishers of the revenue they rely on to keep their services going. A host of international players have already taken steps to combat this issue, and Kiwi publishers are similarly weighing up their options. This stoush is likely to continue heating up over the next few years.
Harcourts vs social media
On the funnier side, the Harcourts Real Estate Conference hashtag was hijacked by the social media community earlier this year, leading to a range of hilarious tweets about life in real estate.
When the T2 radio survey was cancelled earlier this year, NZME went solo and funded its own survey instead. As was to be expected, MediaWorks rejected the move saying it was an official survey while NZME countered this by saying that exactly the same methodologies had been used as in previous surveys.
Y&R NZ did the unthinkable and developed an initiative that would see the fast food factions of McDonald’s and Burger King set aside their differences and collaborate on World Peace Day to produce a hybrid burger. McDonald’s rejected the plan, but it was a win-win for Burger King and the campaign drew impressions in the billions. Plus, they eventually found support from Denny’s, Wayback Burgers, Krystal and Giraffas.
DB Breweries and Colenso BBDO discovered that beer waste could be converted into biofuel, and then developed a campaign based on how they could save the world through beer. Shortly thereafter, Gull joined the cause and local and international media latched onto the story. While it was mostly a promotional stunt, it's thought some of the larger brewers overseas are looking at the idea to help fuel their fleets.
2degrees Play the Bridge
2degrees and Special Group turned the Auckland Harbour bridge into a giant toy that smartphone users could play with, and Auckland's Grey Lady looked better than ever.
In an increasingly cashless society, children were being left out of pocket by parents who simply didn’t have any change to drop into their piggy banks. So ASB and Saatchi & Saatchi collaborated to develop a modern take on Kashin the moneybox.
Eat My Lunch
With consumers, particularly those on the younger side, placing greater emphasis on conscious consumerism, the emergence of Eat My Lunch provided a means by which purchasing items could lead to good. And while initiatives like these have been criticised by some, it’s still great to see brands trying to make a difference.
BMW was the clear winner among brands this year for its babushka doll version of an April Fools’ Day prank, which showed that it sometimes pays to believe what you what you read in the papers.
In February, ANZ ATMs added a bit of colour to the urban landscape as the bank brought its GAYTM initiative to this side of the ditch. And while one of the ATMs was vandalised, this did little to deter from the statement ANZ made by lending its support to gay rights.
ASB’s lost card app
Losing a bankcard and then finding it after cancelling it is almost as frustrating as realising that you aren’t actually the last surviving family member of a Nigerian Prince. And while ASB’s app doesn’t reduce 419 susceptibility, it does at least allow you to put your deactivate—or activate—your card remotely.
Air NZ’s coffee-ordering app
This app isn’t going to change the world, but it does make the airport experience a little more pleasurable for those fortunate enough to enjoy the luxuries of the Koru Lounge. Before arrival at the airport, app users can order their coffee and have it waiting for them in the lounge. Who would’ve thought something so simple could bring so much joy to the hearts of the privileged?
Perhaps these are another naff tech innovation that does little more than give the viewer an assortment of unwatchable angles, but a surfer on the StopPress team insisted on the inclusion of these videos on account of how they facilitate great procrastination material during long office-bound days.
Check out this 360 video of surfing in Tahiti shot by our friends at GoPro. I love these new 360 videos on Facebook -- they feel so much more immersive.
The Buck Shelford Ripped Scrotum Award for Bravery.
There’s a fine line between bravery and foolishness and, in what was one of the few 90 second TVCs of the year, this obviously hyperbolic number for Toyota featuring animals who were happy to be killed by Hilux owners certainly straddles it.
With McWhopper, Breast Milk, the Land Rover restoration and Jaguar’s Actual Reality stunt, there was a bit of a trend to Y&R’s work this year and it received a fair bit of kudos. We wait for the rebrand to Y&R Surprise!
Putting an ad on during the Super Bowl is a very big investment for a New Zealand company. And, as an added risk, it also featured a same sex couple, something that is becoming more common among more progressive clients.
You wouldn’t really expect a pet food brand to wade into the race debate. And while there was a danger of being perceived as capitalising on a cultural issue, Pedigree’s Feed the Good campaign was pretty well received and was based on a nice insight (honourable mention to Karen Walker for using a famous dog in her eyewear campaign).
Air New Zealand’s safety video
The airline is accustomed to paying big bikkies for rights after its Airline of Middle Earth tie-up. But this one involved lots of All Blacks and other rugby players acting, and one of them even rapping. What could possibly go wrong? But it was a pretty slick production and it ended up in the most-watched ads list.
Pretty much all the major media brands.
Whether it’s NZME, Fairfax, MediaWorks, TVNZ, Bauer, RNZ or Sky, there have been some major changes this year as the big guys attempt to bring their various assets together and adapt their models to the Rapidly Evolving Media Landscape (which is, of course, the name our office band). Who knows whether it will work, but they’re all trying new things and getting some shit done.
There’s been a fair amount of rustling in the outdoor category this year with the proliferation of digital screens and the arrival of new major player. But the biggest move in this space was undoubtedly the decision by QMS to drop $49 million on the acquisition of iSite (and this was just one of many acquisitions in the outdoor space this year).
On the topic of selling brands for millions of dollars, Stolen Spirits was sold earlier this year to US company Liquid Asset Brands and Spirits Investment Partners for a hefty $21 million. Not bad for a company founded as recently as 2010.
As the stoush category shows, there’s a fair amount of bickering between the various players in the industry. This means it usually takes something pretty big to encourage the competitors to set aside their differences to work together. And this year, in response to international players dominating the digital market, MediaWorks, TVNZ, Fairfax and NZME formed an alliance to keep a least some of that cash local.
After a 16-year partnership, BNZ and Air New Zealand parted ways earlier this year, making a spot available, which Westpac promptly snapped up. Given that this left many BNZ customers without a means of accumulating Airpoints, the other banks swooped in like a flock of seagulls after a dropped chip and tried to pick up a few customers who were thinking of switching.
Special was the underdog going in, but, just as it did with 2degrees, it delivered the goods and kept out FCB, something no doubt helped by the fact that it hired ex-Ogilvy staffers Angus Hennah and Sandra Daniel.
Certainly not the biggest account, but in an era of NDAs and secrecy, it was one of the more interesting ‘he said, she said’ scenarios after Contagion was announced as the winner.
He went out on a massive high with another World Cup victory, and McCawesome was also among the winners of the Great Rugby World Cup Marketing Wars of 2015 with his bravura performance for Beats.
As part of a deal with Invivo, Graham Norton feeds his talkshow guests the Kiwi wine. And he has graduated from stomping on grapes to actually blending them, which has led to a massive increase in sales.
She’s got over 10 million Facebook fans (The All Blacks have just 4 million), so Kiwibank worked closely with her on a content marketing series as she moved out of home to start being a proper human. And Kiwibank says its was one of the most successful mid-year campaigns it’s ever run.
What do you do if you’re one of the most complained about brands in the country? Put an animal in your ad, of course. Piggy Sue was very well-received (even though it came out at the same time as another lost animal ad from BP) and was even replicated by Vodafone in Ireland.
After many years of pain as its major business continued to dry up, NZ Post has had a bit of a resurgence this year with its ‘You Can’ campaign and UK actor Charles Dance was the man who kicked it all off.
While the weekly mag market is under pressure, Woman’s Day remains extremely popular and in an effort to get women to make time to read it, Bauer introduced the nation to the Gsa-Gsa Gabor-esque character known as Yelena.
It’s meant to be about relaxation, but it seems to be more about infantalisation. We blame Harry Potter. What’s next? At-work bouncinets?
Yes, we can see the appeal and smarter people than us are predicting it will be the next big computing platform. But at this early stage of its development, it’s a bit of a gimmick for marketers.
Is there no limit to the amount of crap that people will collect? Judging by the numerous pester power-inspired campaigns from the supermarkets and other retailers, no there is not.
We are simple, irrational creatures looking for guidance in a complicated world. And endorsements have been working for centuries. But paying a few thousand bucks for a social media ‘star’/blogger with little to no shame and/or integrity to post a photo of themselves holding your brand of teeth whitening product is about as low rent as it gets. And while the focus is on the stars making all the dosh, turns out you can be famous and poor.
Make sure you take your adult colouring book along.
“A mutual suicide pact”. Sky’s CEO John Fellet on the local Subscription Video on Demand market.
Linear TV is still much, much bigger than online video, which is something of an inconvenient truth for those who believe the ‘TV is dead’ fallacy. The trend is certainly moving towards internet-delivered TV—and, in some cases, ad-free internet-delivered TV—but buying the content is the easy bit. Making money from it isn’t.