Māori TV cuts through to smoking target market with in-house agency

When Quitline looked at communities to find ways of bringing Māori smoking rates down, it found something surprising. According to its research, Māori and others in high deprivation populations care less about the cost of cigarettes, or their health, compared to how much they care about their children. Māori Television’s advertising head of department, Toni Urlich developed the creative for the ‘Crayons’ campaign, which uses children, mimicking their parents’ smoking behaviour.

According to the Cancer Society, nationally 45.4 percent of Māori adults identify as being current smokers, more than double the smoking rate of non-Māori, and approximately 800 Māori dying every year of different smoking-related diseases.

Sonara Southcombe-Wallace, client services manager for Māori Television, says “The reason why those Māori [surveyed]that quit did was seeing kids do it. And that was any smoker – not just parents. That’s why we went with the kids [for the ad content]. Quitline found that many of its other ads that said ‘quit now and ring us’, they didn’t work.” Apparently actor Kahukore Bell gave up smoking straight after the production of the TVCs, saying she recognised herself in the campaign and she does not want her young daughter to think smoking is normal because Mum does it.

Quitline chief executive Paula Snowden says in a release “Māori Television has been the perfect partner for us for this campaign. Their genuine understanding of Māori and those in high deprivation populations gives a very real dimension to the advertisements which we are sure will resonate with the target audience.”

The first execution of ‘Crayons’ was released 22 August on Māori Television, and will screen on TVNZ and TV3 from 1 September. There are three more versions to come. Southcombe-Wallace says Māori Television has so far created many campaigns in-house, mostly for the Health Promotion Agency and for Quitline, but all have been for Māori Television screening only.  She says the ‘Crayons’ campaign is the first one to be screened across all channels.

Since Valentine Taylor joined Māori Television as a TV producer and client manager in January, Māori Television started to ramp up the in-house production. “Previously, Toni was getting other producers to create campaigns for our clients,” says Southcombe-Wallace.

One ad campaign in particular kicked off the increase in campaign production, and that was Blazed, the campaign by NZTA and Taika Waititi that won a pair of golds and a silver in the Film Craft category at Cannes.

“Toni was a part of the Blazed commercial,” says Southcombe-Wallace, “And it was then we recognised that Māori Television can make commercials that really resonate with the Māori community. Māori-targeted commercials use a different kind of language to the mainstream, and approach things differently. Māori culture is more holistic, and about the collective, whereas mainstream culture is more oriented towards the individual.”

Another recent campaign by Māori Television’s in-house department is Te Kupu o te Wiki in partnership with New Zealand Post and The Māori Language Commission, which kicked off during Māori language week. Available online, it introduces 50 Te Reo words over 50 weeks (the team filmed a marathon 49 campaigns over six days). “We tried for a Billy T James thing, using Brent Mio from Mai FM as Brent the Postie, to use a bit of the cheeky humour kind of thing,” says Southcombe-Wallace.

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