Youtube VideoIt's getting to the business end of the digital switchover and there's just four months to go until the first two regions—the West Coast and Hawke's Bay—pull the plug on New Zealand’s analogue TV signal. So Freeview has launched a campaign with its new agency True starring Pio Terei that aims to capture the 16 percent of homes still to make the leap to digital–and to convince them to choose the newly pimped out Freeview platform rather than its nearest competitor, the soon-to-launch Sky/TVNZ joint venture Igloo.
Shine took the account off TBWA\ early in 2011 and after the 12 month contract came up for review in February, Freeview's general manager Sam Irvine says they were both in a good position to "have a bit of a change and they decided to move in a different direction".
True's managing director Matt Dickinson, who left his role as group account director at .99 to join fellow .99er Craig Pethybridge and operations manager Michael Currie as a part owner of the agency, says the 'To be fair, it’s got to be free' campaign will appeal to Kiwi’s innate sense of fairness and honesty.
“Everything costs money these days. This campaign takes us back to that place we grew up in, when everything seemed like it was free, from mum’s hand knitted jerseys to the first hand-me-down car from dad,” he says. “It’s about standing up for what matters—something that all New Zealanders can share in, regardless of who they are or how much they earn. Free television is as much a part of our culture as free access to the beach and the great outdoors.”
Of course, with more than 5o percent of the nation signed up for Sky, one of the highest rates in the world, pay television is also part of our culture, but Dickinson says the key to reaching audiences is to keep it simple.
“The 16 percent of homes without digital television [around 34-ish percent are with Freeview, Irvine says] are made up of a wide cross section of New Zealanders with more older New Zealanders and people who aren’t very tech savvy or interested in digital television," he says. "It was important the campaign showed how easy and attainable it is to get Freeview, rather than bombarding people with messages about different products or technology."
True considered a number of well-known New Zealanders to front the campaign, which was shot by Greg Page of Flying Fish, before settling on comedian and presenter Pio Terei.
“Pio’s someone many of us grew up with. He’s relatable, honest and straightforward. Just like Freeview—no strings, no contracts, no subscriptions,” he says.
Irvine, who says this is the most important 18 months of the Freeview campaign, says free television will always have an important democratic function and it's "where we go for our shared experiences as members of the same nation". And with 60 percent of Kiwi TV watchers thought to have a second screen with them when they're watching TV, the aspect of shared experiences via social media is becoming even more popular.
"Events of national significance such as disasters or major sporting events are far more likely to be watched on free television than subscription television," he says.
The campaign, which launched on Friday with a bit of a do at TVNZ (confusingly, as well as a 49 percent stake in Igloo, TVNZ is also a stakeholder with Freeview), includes six TV spots that will be rolled out over the next 12 months.
As well as the new creative, Freeview also announced the arrival of some impressive on-demand technology that should make it much more attractive to both viewers and broadcasters.
The Freeview Interaction Channel, which will allow broadcasters to deliver on-demand content directly to TVs through Freeview set top boxes and most modern TVs with Freeview in-built, is built with the same technology as the BBC's hugely popular iPlayer catch up service. And Irvine says ITV and Connect TV have similar systems that allows them to stream a whole heap of channels on screen from the UK's freeview platform.
There are many options for on-demand viewing at present, of course. And with the arrival of Quickflix, those options are increasing. But Irvine says the main drawcard for the consumer will be the ease of use and the access to content. With the help of the broadcasters' developers who build MHEG applications, programmes will also be able to be streamed direct from the electronic programme guide and, much like the UK, it will also allow 'push the red button' interactivity and social media integration.
For the broadcasters and manufacturers, he says it means they don't need to create a new ondemand app for each device (for example, TVNZ Ondemand on the XBox or Playstation) and keep updating it as is simply included in the Freeview technology.
He says it also offers pay-per view capability, just as Igloo does, but he says none of the broadcasters have shown much interest in that. And as far as its major competition goes, he thinks lower price will be a major drawcard for the remaining customers (it costs as little as $70 for a set-top box vs $200 for Igloo plus additional subscription charges).
While there have been mutterings the technology was unveiled before the Igloo launch because it might help convince those still to make up their minds to go with Freeview, he says the timing of the event was coincidental.
There is also a High Definition Electronic Programme Guide, a first for New Zealand audiences, which as well as being easier to read, also offers a full colour spectrum and gives broadcasters more branding and design opportunities.
He says the roster of channels is pretty full at present but the capacity is being expanded next year and there are some new channels in the pipeline (Choice TV launched recently). And while Irvine was cagey on what might be coming, he confirmed he is currently in discussion with The Shopping Channel (the free-to-air audience seems like a much better fit for this offering than those coughing up for Sky), regional networks and some others.
Creative Director: Craig Pethybridge
Creative team: Craig Pethybridge, Jerry Beale, Shane Ferguson
Post-production: Joerg Fuchs (True)
Agency Producer: Fiona Champtaloup
Film Company: Flying Fish
Executive Producer: James Moore
Director: Greg Page
Producer: Kerin Casey
DOP: Simon Baumfield
Production Designer: Neville Stevenson
Offline Editor: Alex O’Shaugnessy
Post audio: Digipost
Account Director: Matt Dickinson
Photographer: Mark Carter