The revolution will be televised: how the launch of ThinkTV has brought the TV industry together-UPDATED


The Commercial Communications Council has announced it is pleased to see the launch of ThinkTV into the New Zealand market late last week, holding the belief that Think TV is a collective voice for the industry to celebrate the scale and effectiveness of television advertising in New Zealand. 

Chief executive of The Commercial Communications Council Paul Head says there is overwhelming evidence of the power of TV and video to help build sustainable and profitable brands.

“TV remains a critical medium in this market. It is highly effective at telling stories that engage consumers. As an industry, building engagement is central to how we should be fostering long-term brands for our clients and we welcome the launch of ThinkTV as a powerful tool to make this case.”

President of The Commercial Communications Council Louise Bond adds TV has long been a core platform for brands and remains an important channel in a brand’s holistic marketing and media strategy.

“In a world of new media and technology, it’s great to see New Zealand’s leading free-to-air and pay TV players have come together to educate the industry on the effectiveness and evolution of traditional media – TV. The industry looks forward to hearing from ThinkTV regularly and finding out how we can continually challenge ourselves and our clients to use it in new, and interesting, ways to deliver strong, long-term business results.”

Original story:

This morning was, as MC Samantha Hayes said, a “fairly historic” moment for New Zealand television, with the chief executives of the three major television networks – Kevin Kenrick (TVNZ) Michael Anderson (MediaWorks) and John Fellet (Sky TV) – on stage together united for the launch of the initiative ThinkTV New Zealand. 

Perhaps it’s not fully historic because Think TV existed in New Zealand until 2012. But, following in the footsteps of other markets that have successfully promoted the health of TV, the time was right to bring it back to life. 

While there was a quip about the chief executives normally only coming together over a lawsuit, the mood was of celebration and possibility at Q Theatre in Auckland as industry folk gathered to hear about the return of a collective industry voice, promoting the scale and effectiveness of television advertising in New Zealand.

ThinkTV will give insights into viewing behaviour and the impact of advertising across free-to-air, subscription and digital television, with industry bodies Nielsen and the Comms Council endorsing the launch.

As reported in StopPress last month, 2017 was a record year for agency advertising spend, with data released from Standard Media Index (SMI) showing $1.048 billion was spent on major media across the year in New Zealand. Leading the way was TV, with one percent growth taking it to $389.6 million.

*Clarification: SMI figures are based on media agency spend only, and IABNZ’s Internet Advertising Revenue Report shows interactive advertising revenue reached $923 million in 2017, representing a seven percent year-on-year increase. Within this, the search category topped $541 million in the year to form 59 percent of total revenue. ASA figures from 2016 show interactive revenue is ahead of TV. 

This morning’s event opened with a 60-second countdown on screen (60 seconds is actually quite a long time to countdown in silence), followed by a montage of shows from the three channels, before MediaWorks’ Hayes welcomed the attendees and spoke of how the two sectors – free and paid – has come together for the first time as one under the industry body.

Kim Portrate, chief executive of ThinkTV Australia, which launched in 2016,  took to the stage and spoke about the critical importance of attention, how ThinkTV is here to change the conversation and the enduring power of TV advertising.

Australia has recently shown healthy advertising spend, which has climbed by 6.7 percent in December 2017. B&T believes the strong performance was due to the proven effectiveness of broadcast TV and the consistent growth of BVOD platforms such as Foxtel Now, 9Now, 7plus and Tenplay.

With a background in advertising, Portrate was well-suited to talk directly to the advertisers in the room, opening up about mistakes she had made during her time in the advertising industry, including being dazzled by the promise of online-only platforms to fatten up brands.

She illustrated the five areas – research, media relations, marketing, education and industry development – where ThinkTV will be helping the industry, and used case studies of ThinkTV Australia to show how ThinkTV provides a vehicle for the industry to validate its arguments with facts.

L-R:  John Fellet, Michael Anderson and Kevin Kenrick. 

Following Portrate’s speech, Kenrick, Anderson and Fellet did a Q & A with TVNZ’s Pippa Wetzell, including questions about the future of television and why ThinkTV will be relevant and important to the changing landscape of the industry.

Anderson emphasised the importance of the major networks coming together in an environment of varied and confusing reporting within the industry.

“It is a genuine milestone for our industry that we are uniting to launch ThinkTV, collaborating under a common goal to ensure certainty and clarity for advertisers.”

Kenrick said the group was set up to acknowledge New Zealand advertisers’ significant investment in telelvision.

“Our ambition is to ensure businesses get fantastic returns from that investment.”

Fellet, who recently announced his plans to retire, told those gathered the research, tools and insights generated from ThinkTV will be invaluable in helping advertisers and agencies get the best out of today’s multi-platform TV environment.

He also touched on the investment that is going into television today – such as the producers of Game of Thrones spending $25 million per episode on its upcoming season.

L-R: Paul Maher, Rawinia Newton and Glen Kyne.

MediaWorks’ chief commercial officer Glen Kyne was announced as the inaugural chairman. A representative of each major network will serve as chairman annually, another example of the networks uniting together. 

TVNZ’s commercial director, Paul Maher, and SKY TV’s director of advertising, Rawinia Newton, join Kyne as board members.

Kyne, Maher and Newton spoke of how the goal of ThinkTV is to give advertisers facts around the platform, and support agencies as they make decisions – but the companies would still be in competition with each other.

While the trio pointed out ThinkTV is not anti-Facebook or anti-Google, they said those platforms have dominated headlines for too long, with it now being television’s turn.

ThinkTV did operate in New Zealand until 2012 but Maher says it wasn’t that it didn’t work but the media landscape was different back then, with fragmentation and the narrative of digital being touted as the death of TV generating a need for it to come back.

When asked if other partners would join the line-up, Kyne welcomed fellow networks to join the party.

As a nice ending to the Q  + A for this “unusual and momentous occasion together”, the unique capacity of television to tell a story was reflected in each chief executive choosing their favourite ad:

Fellet chose Mitre 10 – Sandpit: 

Anderson’s pick was Ghost chips:

And Kenrick’s pick was Lotto’s armoured truck:

Agencies themselves are also reflecting the narrative that television isn’t dead through embracing long-term campaigns and ideas, and focusing on the importance of storytelling.

Lotto New Zealand’s ‘Imagine’ campaign is one example with ‘Pop’s Gift’, ‘Mum’s Wish’ and ‘Amoured Truck’ all-embracing narrative concepts.

Lotto’s chief marketing officer Guy Cousins told StopPress in October he believes its brand objective will be achieved by telling stories that viewers love.

“We’ve told some great stories in the past…and it was clear that we had to go back to great storytelling. It’s too easy to bombard people with messaging, but these days people have the option to just screen out. So it’s actually more incumbent on us to tell fantastic stories.”

With today’s unified launch enabling the television industry to come together to counter the issues and perceptions the medium faces, ThinkTV will provide new opportunities for agencies, advertisers and brands to elevate their products through the medium of television.    

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