Powershop has ruffled a few feathers once again with an ad by Doublefish playing on the Greek crisis to promote its referral scheme for existing customers, but its flagrant use of advertising seems to be working as though its CEO admits the market is tough he says Powershop is holding its own.
The ad features German chancellor Angela Merkel pulling the fingers on an ATM screen. The ATM reads “Bank of Greece” and the ad is accompanied with text reading: “Don’t be mean. Help your mates get their bills under control”.
The image was used in Powershop’s weekly emails and was also pushed out through Twitter and Facebook.
According to Stuff chief executive of the New Zealand German Business Association Monique Surges said having met Merkel, the ad was in really poor taste and was factually wrong. “Anything for a laugh to capture attention I guess,” she said.
Powershop also received some criticism on Facebook, where one user said: "You should not screw around such a topic. Do you have any idea how desperate the people in Greece are? It is disgusting that you make a joke out of it and in addition blame Germany to be responsible."
One Twitter user also pointed out that Powershop wasn’t entirely original with the idea:
If you thought Powershop were being original with Angela Merkel giving the middle finger from the Greek ATM screen... http://t.co/WldjPtbBB9— Ana Samways (@AnaSamways) July 22, 2015
Powershop CEO Ari Sargent says feedback has mostly been positive. “Most people kind of take it for what it is. It’s intended to be light-hearted and most people are taking it that way.”
While we thought the commonly held belief was that Germans don’t have a sense of humour, Sargent says he was surprised to find a "German without a sense of humour along the way".
The point of the ad is to have personality, he says. “Talking to our customers is part of who we are and to have a bit of fun and not be a faceless corporation.”
He says though some upset people have spoken to Stuff, no one has come to Powershop directly. “No, we haven’t had any correspondence from anyone in particular … The encouraging thing is that most people view it with the humour it was intended. There is the odd person that doesn’t like it but by and large most people do.”
Sargent says Powershop is doing quite well in Australia at the moment. “Basically across both markets now we are at 100,000 customers [in New Zealand and Australia] and New South Wales and Victoria have been going particularly well.”
“It’s been a tough market. We haven’t grown as much as we have in previous years, we are still holding our own but it’s a much tougher market.”
Sputnik PR account director Peter Graczer confirmed Powershop has just over 56,000 customers in New Zealand and about 49,000 in Australia.
When we last spoke with Powershop in February this year it had 58,000 customers in New Zealand and about 30,000 customers in Australia.
Powershop’s current long-running campaign is about standing up against injustice with each execution being about significant protest events.
Powershop head of marketing and sales Hamish Wilkie said earlier Powershop, which is owned by Meridian, has been working with Doublefish for six years and most of their campaigns have twisted a fair number of knickers. Its last campaign featured troubled New Zealand politicians illustrated by fellow collaborator and cartoonist Murray Webb. And the caricatured faces of Hone Harawira, Judith Collins and John Banks saw the company’s referral rate skyrocket, jumping from 9-11 percent to 23.95 after releasing the Collins ad.