Hit for six: Toby Talbot on DDB’s secret TV sauce

While Skyline’s animated ode to garages took out our TVC of the Year award, it’s clear the ad won because of a concerted effort from the company’s staff and suppliers. Some felt it was a tribute to the passion and pride the employees have in the small company, but others felt the ‘win by any means necessary’ approach was slightly embarrassing, wasn’t in the spirit in which the award was set up and didn’t accurately reflect the best, most popular ad of the year. It was within the rules, but if you’re in the latter camp, then it’s fair to say Lotto’s ‘Lucky Dog’ by DDB and The Sweet Shop was the ‘pseudo-winner’, as it was leading the polling by a fairly large margin up until the last couple of days. And with five other DDB creations also making it into the top ten, DDB had an impressive overall showing, something executive creative director Toby Talbot says can be put down to the power of solid client relationships. 

Youtube Video “Lotteries are a wonderful client and they push us to do our very best. They also realise how important TV is for them. Fundamentally, they’re selling a piece of paper. They haven’t got anything else. So it’s about the power of the dream … The fact that Lotteries decided it needed two and a half minutes to tell the story and played it across every channel at same time shows how much confidence they had in it. And also that they spent a lot of money on it. But it’s about their creative vision as much as ours. All great work comes from fantastic partnerships. It’s born of trust and there’s a vision in the creative idea. Most clients are the unsung heroes. And for us, having six in the top ten is testament to the strength of our relationships.”

Talbot says Lotteries understands the power of music in commercials, as evidenced by the fact it used Edith Piaf’s La Vie en Rose for the fantastic Old Flame spot a few years back and the Greatest American Hero theme song for the popular Instant Kiwi dance fest. And the use of Nick Cave and Bruno Coulais’ ‘To be by your Side’, which was originally composed for a documentary called Winged Migration, was a masterstroke by creative director Regan Grafton. “It was such a wonderful fit,” Talbot says. But as Cave had never allowed his songs to be used in commercials, when they asked if they could use it the answer was originally no, so they had to “go round the back of the house” to Roundhead studios and then direct to Cave’s manager, before eventually getting a yes.

With over 765,000 views just on our YouTube channel, it’s a brilliant and amazingly well-loved ad and many felt it was robbed at Axis, only taking two silvers. But, slightly ironically, Talbot thinks it will do well at Cannes (as an Axis entry campaign a few years back said, ‘easy to enter, tough to win’) and, considering he feels it’s one of the agency’s strongest years in TV, he’s hoping for a good awards haul overall.

“Cannes is the gold standard and we’re excited about the awards season. But we’re not slaves to results.”

While Lotteries is a relatively recent addition to the agency’s stable, DDB and Sky, which has two ads in the top ten, are often held up as a shining example of a solid agency client relationship and it’s been particularly fruitful of late, with an impressive array of very entertaining work being released ($10 says MySky’s ‘60 things in 60 seconds‘ will win next year’s award). And, like Lotteries, Talbot says Mike Watson and the rest of the marketing team push the agency to allow that great work to happen.

As the biggest agency in the country, and with TV still being such an important medium when it comes to winning hearts and minds in New Zealand, it’s not surprising to see so many DDB TVCs in the top ten. Talbot says some see this strength in TV as a bad thing and pigeonhole the agency as ‘the one that makes TV ads’. But he says DDB isn’t a one-trick pony. Its TV ads are good enough to get noticed and, as the big boy, “you can set yourself up for a fall”.

“It’s important to show everyone that we can perform on any stage and on any channel. I’m really keen to show that,” he says.


Client: NZ Lotteries

Title of Campaign: Lucky Dog

Durations: 2min 30sec, 90 sec, 60 sec & 5 x 15sec powerballs

Client contacts:

Todd McLeay, Warren Salisbury, Wendy Rayner, Natalie Kennerley, Aroha Fuggle


Group Executive Creative Director: Toby Talbot

Deputy Creative Director: Regan Grafton

Art Director: Regan Grafton, Gavin Siakimotu, Brett Colliver

Copywriter: Natalie Knight

Group Business Director: Aimee McCammon

Account Director: Jenny Travers

Executive Producer: Judy Thompson

TV Producer: Tania Jeram

The Sweetshop:

Director: Steve Ayson

Producer: Claire Kelly

DOP: Geoffrey Simpson

Dog Trainers: Caroline Girdlestone & James Delaney

Offline editor: Jack Hutchings from The Butchery

Post Production: Animal Logic

Music: “To Be By Your Side” by Nick Cave

Sound Design: Jon Cooper at Liquid Studios


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