Brand ambassadors have long been one of marketing’s dearest tricks. It puts a face to a faceless brands and sets up a point of association that—if done right—can not only be effective but stand the test of time. They can be fictional (Ronald McDonald, Tony the Frosted Flakes tiger), a celebrity (Michael Jordan for Nike, Angelina Jolie for UNHCR, George Foreman for his fat-busting grills) or even the owners themselves (Colonel Sanders for KFC, Mike Pero and his real estate business, Doug Hastie aka the Chanui guy).
For health food brand CleanPaleo’s new brand ambassador, it just so happens to combine a little bit of all three. Because while the impossibly well-nourished Grandpa Leo (PaLEO, get it?) is sadly just a figment of imagination, he is, however, played by Arthur “Art” Green, director of CleanPaleo and eponymous star of matchmaking show The Bachelor NZ.
The three-minute video starts with a series of testimonials from some familiar Kiwi faces, before introducing the audience to 'Leo Green' and all his flat cap-wearing, cardigan-loving, salt and pepper bearded ways. But it's not long before Leo springs into action, running shirtless through parks, doing back flips at the gym, and recounting the time he delivered two lion cubs in Africa called Cle-An and Pa-Leo.
Working with Frog Productions and Katabolt to create the three-minute video, Green says this is the first official ad campaign CleanPaleo has launched since the company was founded back in 2013.
"This is the first time we've sat down and thought we actually wanted to make something with a bit of structure behind it, and push some of our products as we push the campaign out. It was the first time we ever used a production team to help us make something," says Green.
"We decided we wanted to leverage and play off 'Art Green' as a brand in itself and use that and take the piss. That was something I really wanted to do because that's all quite fun."
"The three groups worked back and forth, although Frog Productions had the most input. We'd just get together a couple times a week for a few weeks and just kept brainstorming. We all worked pretty close together," he says.
When it came to filming the actual video, Green says he wore prosthetic make-up in an effort to look older, and got into character by engaging in some improvisation as well, recalling that "there were heaps of funny outtakes, and when I was in the Grandpa Leo character they'd tell me to just talk like an old man and I'd say all sorts of random things."
The video also features humorously scripted cameos from former Bachelor host Mike Puru, Games of Thrones star Joe Naufahu and Green's partner Matilda Rice.
"It's one of those things where I like to help other people out and it was the first time I was trying to call in a favour from those guys, so they were more than happy to help out," says Green. "Matilda's always keen to help out as well, she's awesome and she's quite funny. Any chance to make something that'll make people laugh, she's all about it."
Since its early days working to raise money to fuel its growth, Green says the company has come a long way, and while the company was founded by entrepreneur Ryan Kamins, cricketer Mitchell McClenaghan and Green himself, McClenaghan has recently stepped out of the company in an effort to focus on his sporting career.
"We've been around for around four years now and especially in the last year and a half, we've just grown so significantly and it's quite cool now to be looking at things and think that we can actually put a real campaign together, which is cool. It's pretty amazing how far we've come," he says.
With star power behind the brand with a former reality TV star in its ranks, Greens says it helps give traction to the company's growth. After all, Green has used his credentials to write a book on healthy eating, have his recipes featured in Woman's Day, and score appearances on shows such as Jono and Ben, all in the name of promoting the CleanPaleo brand.
"It's going off the 'Art Green' brand and public image ... and trying to leverage that while I'm still relevant I guess! I love taking the piss out of myself so it's fun to do that," says Green.
While the campaign nears the end of its run after rolling out on social media over the last few weeks, Green says the company are looking into the possibility of turning the Grandpa Leo character into an ongoing thing.
"We make to look to do some more Grandpa Leo campaigns in the future. We'll see how we go," he says.
"It could be quite useful to use the Grandpa Leo character as a brand ambassador. We kind of wanted to gauge how well it would be received and it's been received really well. so it's certainly an option for us."