Holden shacks up with Shortland Street, puts fans in the driver’s seat

After over one month of online squabbling about who passed away in last season’s final episode, Shortland Street fans will finally be able to get some closure when the new season kicks off tonight at 7pm. But this doesn’t mean that the online banter will stop here.

Building on the success of TVNZ’s 2013 campaign that required fans to guess who died in the last episode, Holden has now launched Shortland Street Car Park, an interactive multimedia campaign.

The digital team at Ogilvy and Mather NZ spearheaded the campaign, and Greg Whitham, the digital group head at the agency, says that it showcases the evolution of sponsorship.

“You need to offer more these days. What we wanted to do was offer something that enhanced viewer interaction. We wanted to give viewers and the sponsor something more than a standard case of having the brand appear sporadically,” he says.

To fulfil this goal, Ogilvy created an interactive website that features a variety of Holdens parked in a fictitious car park. Each vehicle in the lot is said to belong to one of the characters in the hit TV show, and viewers have to guess which car belongs to which character.

“The campaign also features a Cluedo-esque element, because we will provide clues as to who drives the vehicles over the next few months,” says the Ogilvy digital guru.

Site visitors will be able to interactively enter the vehicles and search for clues in an effort to decipher which character owns each of the different vehicles.

Whitham says that the site is designed to “reward people who really know the story.”

And he doesn’t use the word reward lightly, because at the end of the first quarter one lucky viewer will walk away with a top-of-the-range Holden Trax SUV.

This innovative use of sponsorship has become commonplace on TVNZ, with BrandWorld’s mastheads Family Health Diary, Eating Well, Discover and The Extra Mile all featuring sponsored content in an interactive way. 

TVNZ head of sales Jeremy O’Brien is optimistic about the prospect of Holden’s sponsorship deal with Shortland Street, and he believes it’s a step in the right direction.

“People who watch the show are very active online so this is a canny brand integration that lets viewers experience specially selected Holden cars in a fun way,” he says.

Holden’s general marketing manager Marnie Samphier is equally enthused about the campaign, saying it will usher in an “exciting year for Holden”.

“This is going to be special. It has been 60 years since we started importing Holden vehicles into New Zealand, and we hope that this marks the beginning of another 60 years of business,” she says.

This optimism is slightly surprising, given that Holden last year announced plans to pull out of Australia within the next few years. Samphier was however quick to draw a Tasman-shaped line in the sand between the Australian and Kiwi markets.

“We have our own marketing strategies, and we haven’t manufactured vehicles in New Zealand for many years. We import vehicles by sourcing them from a variety of different countries and we will continue to do so in 2014,” she says.    


Holden New Zealand

General marketing manager: Marnie Jane Samphier

Ogilvy & Mather New Zealand

Executive creative director: Angus Hennah
Digital group head: Greg Whitham
Senior digital strategist: Ben Aiken-Smith
Television director: Matt Holmes
Head of television production: Amanda Kabel
Group account director: Sandra Daniel
Account director: Jessica Short


Business director: Will Douglas
Senior planner/buyer: Lisa Gibson
Trading manager: Jo Hartley
Digital director: Andrew Simpson

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