Be-yooo-diful: Keep New Zealand Beautiful and FCB unleash Mama Nature

Picture Mother Nature and a man in a dress with a duck on his head is not likely the image you see.

However, that’s what FCB has created for Keep New Zealand Beautiful in a new campaign starring Mama Nature. The campaign hopes to get Kiwis to wake up their ideas up about littering as it watches Mama Nature unleash the odd dose of natural-disaster onto litterers.

Mama Nature is all about loving the planet and keeping New Zealand “Be-yooo-diful” but years of cleaning up after everyone has seen an end to her unconditional love. Instead, she gets pay back on those who litter.

In the hero 30-second TVC, that dose of natural disaster comes in the form of a volcano erupting and sending a flaming boulder through the sky and onto the car of a woman who threw her chip cup out her car window. The force of the impact sends her flying and in the end she appears, charred and a little worse for wear, to put her chip cup in the bin.

For the good behaviour, she is rewarded with Mama Nature’s praise in the form of “Be-yooo-diful”, the character’s catch phrase and one FCB hopes will catch on.

“We are really trying to own that piece of vernacular,” says executive creative director Tony Clewett. “The right behaviour is rewarded with ‘Be-yooo-diful’.”

It’s a far cry from the long sweeping shots of beautiful landscapes audiences have come to expect when talking about New Zealand and if the campaign has you taking a second look you’re not alone. However, Clewett explains it’s a deliberate move to generate cut through.

“How do you simultaneously look to change someone’s behaviour while getting them to love you? Easy – like this. And it was bloody fun to make too.”

Look closely at the campaign and you’ll see the final edit is rough around the edges, with the owl being held up by a hand and string holding up the flying flaming boulder among other hokey features.

Clewett explains the move to not make it polished was again deliberate and helped it to generate a wealth of content in a small space of time and fitting to Keep New Zealand Beautiful’s budget. It was able to shoot all executions in a couple of days, rather than spending the time crafting one 30-second piece.

It also adds to the fun of the campaign, meaning what could have been a lecture about littering to instigate behaviour change is enjoyable and engaging.

“We don’t want to be like a school headmaster, we want them to enjoy and have fun with the campaign.”

To reiterate the point, FCB chief brand officer New Zealand David Thomason adds the agency approached this more like it was creating a meme than an ad.

“It needed to be distinctive, fun and provocative, and work brilliantly in short video and stills. We hope Mama Nature and her catch-phrase will be shared, mimicked and parodied.”

As well as providing cut-through in the ‘wow’ factor of a man in a dress playing Mama Nature, it’s hoped the character will also be the key to making the campaign memorable. In saying this, Thomason refers to Mama Nature as a “fluent device”, a character created by the brand and used as the primary vehicle for the drama across multiple campaign executions.  

According to The IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising in the UK), fluent devices are powerful because repeated, familiar characters generate feeling and take advantage of our pattern recognition abilities.

Research by Orlando Wood of System1 Goup shows long-term campaigns with fluent devices are 23 percent more likely to achieve market share gain and 22 percent more likely to achieve profit gain.

And as well as being a fluent device, Mama Nature also has the benefit of working for six-second bumper ads that take the campaign from the TV to online.

In the series of bumpers, Mama Nature expresses her frustration over littering and unleashes her fury.

Mama Nature is also the star of an OOH campaign and can be bought to life should Keep New Zealand Beautiful want to tour or have her appear on a TV show to further spread the message.

It’s a similar strategy to the one FCB took with the recent electric vehicle (EV) campaign for Mercury. It converted a 57 For Fairlane into an EV that is now traveling the country to demonstrate the value of EVs in real life.

Dubbed Evie, the converted car has become a driving billboard for Mercury as well as being the star in a TVC and online executions and there’s still more to come.

The same can be said about Mama Nature, and Thomason says after two days of shooting, Mama Nature’s character was really coming out and should there be any more, it will only get better.

Measuring up

With the aim of the campaign being to get Kiwis to stop littering, measuring the ROI is not as simple as looking at products sold, and Thomason points out that to say “there’s less litter in this area because of the campaign” will be quite difficult.

What will be able to shed some light on the campaign’s impact is Keep New Zealand Beautiful’s undertaking of work to reach a reach a holistic view of the country’s litter problem.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful CEO Heather Saunderson says the next stage of its litter prevention project will involve it partnering with Stats NZ to launch a national litter audit, physically inspecting litter in areas such as motorways, rest stops, residential streets, beaches, rural and industrial locations.

The project and the campaign are the result of the government investing $3 million in a behavioural change campaign. Announced last year, it comes from the Ministry for the Environment’s Waste Minimisation Fund. According to the announcement, it’s the most generous support the government has ever given Keep New Zealand Beautiful.

It was following that announcement that FCB won the account and got to work conceptualising a way to return Keep New Zealand Beautiful to the screen for the first major above-the-line campaign for since its ‘Do the Right Thing’ and ‘Be A Tidy Kiwi’ campaigns, which ran in the 1980s and 1990s.

The timing of the campaign is fitting to the environmental conversations happening around single-use-plastic. Countdown, Mitre 10 and New World have committed to removing single-use plastic bags from their stores this year and a recent ‘Bags Not’ campaign hopes Kiwis will remove them from their lives too.

Reflecting back on the 80s and 90s when Keep New Zealand Beautiful was last rolling out major campaigns, Clewett says society is already showing signs of moving in the right direction. His evidence of the point is a scene from Mad Men, in which Don Draper is out for a picnic with his family. At the end of their meal, Draper and his wife pack up by shaking all the rubbish onto the ground and driving away.

Watching it back now, we laugh at the absurdity of it, but littering was once a behaviour, like smoking and drink driving, that was not frowned upon.

Now, with the help of Mama Nature and her unleashing of natural disasters, it’s hoped there will be less littering than ever.


Client: Keep New Zealand Beautiful Heather Saunderson – CEO
Jodie Stuart – General Manager
Kath Doubleday – Marketing Manager
Agency: FCB New Zealand
Production Company : Tomorrowland Director – Justin Harwood
Producer – Shannon Cairns
Sound Studio: The Coopers of Franklin Road 

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