Finding our voice: the rediscovery of BNZ's 'Who Are We' campaign

  • Advertising
  • August 15, 2013
  • Ben Fahy
Finding our voice: the rediscovery of BNZ's 'Who Are We' campaign

These days the idea of New Zealandness is a dime a dozen in advertising. But it certainly wasn't always that way, with British accents and values typically being favoured in the nation's early television advertising. ​Colenso's 'Who are we' campaign for BNZ in 1990 is widely regarded as one of the first to "consciously reflect a distinctive New Zealand identity". And for the first time that full series is available to view online.  

Len Potts directed the ads and provided the gravelly voice-over (legend has it that while listening to a tape of potential voiceover options in his car, he threw the tape off the Harbour Bridge in disgust). And, as he says—smoke in hand—in this interview for a programme on New Zealand's national identity, they "didn't really know what a New Zealander was" before the campaign. So it did a lot of research and asked New Zealanders what they thought. And the results showed our sense of self was tied more to the physical aspects of New Zealand than any perceived cultural side.

"Things like rivers and beaches, baches and boats and mountains rather dominated the way we thought about our country, so those commercials were a direct reflection of that."

And they still stand up pretty bloody well today. 

Hat tips: Hazel Phillips (buy her book), Len Potts for finding the tape and BNZ for digitising it. 

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

Comms Council announces The Pressie Awards

  • Awards
  • August 23, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Comms Council announces The Pressie Awards

The Commercial Communications Council has announced The Pressie Awards are back for a second year, after launching in 2018 as the PRESCom Awards.

Read more
Next page
Results for

StopPress provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2019 ICG Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.


Contact Vernene Medcalf at +64 21 628 200 to advertise in StopPress.

View Media Kit