Lives, loves, mishaps and mayhem: Countdown and Ogilvy lather up with new soap

Youtube Video It started with a kiss, it led to an unexpected addition to the family and it’s ended with a massive new campaign for Countdown. So, meet the Colemans, the newest soap operatic addition to New Zealand’s advertising landscape.

The Colemans, a typical Kiwi family made up of dad Rob, mum Nikki, their teenagers Jess and Wills and a new baby Josh, launched on television this week and it kicked off in style, dominating the whole first ad break on ONE News at 6.10pm (aka the most expensive spots on New Zealand television).

Progressive’s agency Ogilvy weren’t saying how much it cost to block out the first ad break. But Richard Loseby, Ogilvy’s creative group head, did say TVNZ were fully behind the campaign (the first one, at just 60 seconds, means ONE had to pad out the news hour. Apparently TV3 tried something similar around ten years ago, but found that shortening the ad breaks meant viewers often missed the programming and, after a number of complaints, they were forced to pull it). TVNZ’s conviviality isn’t too surprising, really, given Countdown’s ad spend, its support of MasterChef and the fact that Progressive Enterprises recently threatened to pull its advertising off TVNZ after the Paul Henry furore.

Loseby says there was some inspiration for what Ogilvy’s executive creative director Damon O’Leary calls “classic reflective advertising” from the long running Anchor family ads in the late 80s and 90s, as well as similar campaigns that have run in the US and UK. He believes the Anchor ads were very brave at the time, as they dealt with a divorce. And he says they needed to find something similarly dramatic for Countdown, in this case, Nikki, who used to be a Countdown assistant store manager, giving birth and the rest of the family adjusting to the demands.

“The idea of a family with older children having a baby. That’s quite unique and original and it’s that whole topic of ‘what’s it like?'”, he says.

Loseby says this wasn’t a case of the agency coming to the client and saying ‘here’s the idea’. Progressive were in on the long-term strategy of following a Kiwi family from the start, so he says Ogilvy’s role was about showing them how the story would evolve.

The soap operatic series is being infused into the existing Countdown Smart Shopper ad series, featuring Richard Till, and has been leading into the Weekend Windback and fuel specials on TV ONE. It is also running across the daily ad schedule of the main television networks. And, while the press release says it will run for a couple of months, Loseby hopes it’s something that could run for years.

Of course, that depends on how the first batch of 13 executions (made by Robber’s Dog and directed by Chris Dudman) are received. And while Countdown is almost in the background as the family characters are introduced, he says the shorter ads will begin to focus more on the products. Still, everyone knows that for it to be a true soap opera, it will require a jilted lover who will stop at nothing for revenge.

“It gives us a chance to show, in interesting and engaging ways, how Countdown always has the smart solution for the everyday needs of Kiwi families,” says Progressive Enterprises’ general manager – marketing and communications Elizabeth Ryley. “What’s more, because of the nature of families and their needs, there are endless wonderful story lines, all of which provides us with entertaining and relevant ways to showcase how Countdown helps enrich our daily lives.”

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