Arnott’s dunks into post-apocalyptic storytelling

Following the Christchurch earthquake, New Zealand went into a spin as Marmageddon hit due to damage to Sanitarium’s Marmite plant. And now, in a new Arnott’s campaign, another food crisis is upon the country, but not to worry – All Blacks coach Steve Hansen and stuntwoman Zoe Bell are on the case.

While the full campaign is set to be released in cinemas in November a pair of trailers have been released to tease the audience as to what sparked the apocalypse and with Hansen playing the hero, it’s no surprises the All Blacks are behind it.

One trailer suggests the world’s downfall kicked off while a group of the rugby stars and their partners were enjoying a weekend away with their partners. However, the enjoyment was short-lived as Victor Vito ate all the Tim Tams before women got a chance to satisfy their craving. The story suggests the women then lost their biscuits and it escalated into a worldwide apocalypse. Yes, you read that correctly. The apocalypse was allegedly caused by angry women. 

The team here at StopPress felt that blaming women for starting the apocalypse does seem somewhat tone deaf in the modern context, particularly in a brand ad featuring an ambassador from a sport often criticised for perpetuating toxic masculinity in society.  

Of course, the campaign is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but the outrageous platform lends itself to any of a number of possible interpretations. So to see the campaign villainising women seems, at best, a little lazy and, at worst, disconnected from the modern cultural trend toward not reducing women to a furious collection of irrational beings.

That said, the ad has had a predominantly positive response from Kiwis across social media.                

The other trailer veers away from sexist undertones to explain how the apocalypse began when the All Blacks were gaming and Israel Dagg ate all the Shapes before Ma’a Nonu got any. Nonu apparently got so mad, he caused a glitch in the game’s system that broke the internet and resulted in the apocalypse.

In both scenarios, Hansen narrates the unfolding drama before appearing on a bike, dressed head to toe in leather to share the moral of the story: “Never ever lose your biscuit.”

The trailers are supported by a dedicated campaign website that shows the state of New Zealand post-apocalypse and how Hansen and Bell are on a mission to return civility to society. It also features a casting section to register interest to be part of the film’s cast.

An epic story of the world in a state of chaos may seem like an unusual way to promote the Arnott’s range, but marketing director for Australia and New Zealand Nik Scotcher says the idea came from an equally unusual insight.

He says Arnott’s thinks biscuits are a small but important part of life in New Zealand and they might be more conspicuous by their absence than their presence.

“We wanted to do something uniquely Kiwi, something irreverent and fun. It was every bit of that. Who wouldn’t want to make a movie with Steve Hansen about a biscuit apocalypse.”

Hansen was taken out of his usual coaching role to become Apocalypse Steve Hansen as he was taught to speak and act, and he says he relished the challenge.

“I thought it would be fun and totally different, outside my comfort zone. It was an opportunity to be coached by someone else and learn coaching techniques to take into my own arena,” he says. 

“I found it invigorating and energising because it was a totally different environment.”

His coach, Bell, returned from the US to shoot the film and says it was a challenging and exciting experience.

“It was great to see him in action and I think Kiwis will be blown away seeing him in this way.”

And with the trailers making their way around the internet that sentiment appears true as many have been quick to share their thoughts on the campaign. In a press conference, All Blacks Beauden Barrett and Ben Smith laughed when asked for their thoughts on it, while Stuff writer Kevin Norquay questioned Hansen’s rationale for pushing a food that’s full of sugar.

“Why is a man in the public eye only as the mentor to a group of finely tuned elite athletes pushing biscuits scorned by nutritionists, this ad is at odds with his real job,” the article read.

Meanwhile, Newshub was lighter on the performance, saying Hansen’s acting is far from half-baked—it “truly takes the biscuit”.

The creative was developed by Y&R NZ.  

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