Fair Go experiences the perils of live TV as Specsavers wins best ad, Cigna gets the wooden spoon

Live TV is challenging enough when filmed in a fully equipped studio. And as the Fair Go team illustrated last night, it’s even more difficult when produced in the Spark Atrium with a live audience in attendance. 

At the 30th edition of the Fair Go Awards, hosts Pippa Wetzell and Gordon Harcourt struggled their way through a series of glitches that hampered the continuity of proceedings. 

From the outset of the event, it was clear that it wasn’t going to be smooth sailing. The hosts’ voices was often drowned out by the background murmurings, and when the sound did come through it often involved a jittery and somewhat awkward exchange. 

As the evening progressed, things took a turn for the worse. When Wetzell prompted the show’s producers to screen ‘the worst ad of the year’ finalists, the scene somewhat confusingly shifted instead to the ad that Kiwis voted the best ever, BASF’s ‘Dear John’ spot, which was produced in the 1980s. 

This faux pas when combined with the general awkwardness of the show led a few viewers to express their thoughts on Twitter and Facebook.   

However, these technical glitches did not stop Kiwis from tuning in. Last night, a total of 567,600 viewers watched the awards edition of the show—a slight drop from last year’s tally of 569,700 and a significant decline from the 749,600 that watched in 2012.       

And while the show had some technical difficulties with the live sections, it’s worth noting that the sections shot in advance provided some fantastic behind-the-scenes glimpses at Kiwi advertising. One video looked at how Samsung’s ‘Coliseum’ spot was produced, while another featured an interview with Murray Grindlay, the ‘King of Jingle’. 

And in her defence, Wetzell held her composure and successfully managed to improvise her way out of the awkwardness that came with the glitches and eventually gave the audience a rundown of the finalists in both the best and worst categories. 

Worst ad finalists:

Vodafone’s Friday spot by FCB

Spark’s Giganaire by Saatchi & Saatchi

Nova Energy’s ‘rhyming spot’ by Clemenger BBDO

Cigna’s funeral plan spot Y&R NZ 

Best ad finalists:

KiwiRail’s ‘Take a break, take a train’ spot by Clemenger BBDO

Tux’s ​’Cat herding’ spot by Assignment Group

Specsavers ‘Workout/bingo’ spot by Specsavers Creative

Mastercard’s ‘Mystery Trip’ by McCann Sydney 

The overall best ad winner went to the Specsavers ad, which was produced by the company’s in-house creative team in the UK and shot by production company Hungry Man. 

Given that there was no shortage of outstanding Kiwi creative work released over the course of the last year, it was slightly disappointing to see an international campaign win the award, but it’s also worth remembering that people looking in from the outside often see things quite differently to those working in the advertising industry.

On the other side of the spectrum, Y&R NZ’s campaign for Cigna’s funeral insurance picked up this year’s worst ad award. And while Cigna’s spot isn’t necessarily the most creative ever produced, Harcourt pointed out that viewers might have cast their votes against the spot on account of what it was advertising rather than how it was being advertised.

One Twitter commenter expressed the opinion that the result might have more to do with who watches the show:

While Cigna’s chief executive Lance Walker wasn’t present to collect the award on the night, he took the win in good spirits, and told StopPress: “It’s always nice to be recognised, and if nothing else the award shows that our ads get noticed – funeral plan is one of Cigna’s most popular products. We’ve been a regular finalist in the worst ad award category for the past few years but now that we’ve won the big prize, we’re looking to the next challenge – maybe next year we’ll break into the best ad awards category!”  

ASB and Saatchi, which were awarded the Fair Go wooden spoon last year for the Brian Blessed campaign, will no doubt be glad to see their tenure as the worst ad incumbents come to an end with Y&R NZ and Cigna set to hold this title for the next year.            

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