From downing tools to upping DIY: Mitre 10 and FCB take ownership of the weekend

Mitre 10 has been trying to convince Kiwis that DIY is in their DNA for a few years now, and, following on from the clever ‘Easy As’ campaign, which aimed to inspire Kiwis to pick up the tools by teaching them a few DIY tricks on YouTube, it released a new campaign that hopes to further enhance the store’s position as a Mecca for the nation’s weekend warriors.  

The 30 second ad via FCB and Alex Sutherland from Thick as Thives focuses on a rooster whose morning call is dominated by the sound of machines assisting Kiwis with their weekend DIY projects (someone call the ASA because the glamourisation of early morning lawn-mowing is just not okay). And, like the classic kids in the sandpit spot and, more recently, the DIY manifesto in the Easy As brand ad, FCB’s executive creative director Tony Clewett says it was time for a brand refresh—and time for something that connected with Kiwis on a more emotional level. 

“And the weekend is a great focal point for the brand. It’s the climax of the DIY project. It’s when it all happens.”

The brand ad will be followed up by six more 15 second ads showing Kiwis getting on with their jobs. These were also shot by Sutherland and Clewett says he’s done a good job casting some very natural Kiwis and imbuing the spots with the right amount of understated Kiwi humour. 

He says FCB always works best when planning and media are there at the beginning of the process and that’s been the case with this campaign, so it’s quite proud of the integrated nature of it. As such, he says the media strategy is based around getting people excited about the weekend throughout the week—including through Easy As content—and then equipping them with the things they need towards the end of the week and during the weekend.  

FCB has also released a rock anthem based on the weekend. The lyrics were written by creative Scott Kelly and Murray Grindlay brought it to life with the help of Pluto’s lead singer Milan Borich (there could be a theme developing here as FCB recently employed Jordan Luck to perform Rebecca Black’s Friday for a rather polarising Vodafone ad). 

Many New Zealanders like to think they’ve got a pretty good work-life balance, but we actually work some of the longest hours in the developed world, we’re not particularly productive and, according to Colmar Brunton’s research about Kiwis’ typical Friday habits, which was used to launch the campaign late last week, it also takes us a bit longer than some other nations to switch off for the weekend.

The research showed that most Kiwis switch off around 3.29 on a Friday (they generally finish work at 4.04pm and fully immerse themselves in the weekend an hour later at 5.04pm), ​so FCB put a countdown clock on a few major websites and also created a radio roadblock and played a cutdown version of the song at 3.29 to celebrate. 

“And I’m sure it will be played frequently inside the stores,” he says. 

In comparison, a British Airways survey showed UK workers switched off at 2.39pm, so it’s perhaps not surprising that Kiwis have developed a reputation for their impressive work ethic. 

So how about advertising-specific roles? Many would suggest they switch off around 12pm when they all go out for lunch, but Clewett says it’s not like the good old days anymore and he often finds half the creative department still there at 6.30 on Friday night (although there’s a good chance they’re just there for the free drinks). 

In a release, Mitre 10 chief executive Neil Cowie says Kiwis are a hardworking bunch, but the research seems to indicate that people relax a bit as the week draws to a close and they start to focus on social opportunities and personal projects, including DIY around the home.

“Our research indicates that 74 percent of New Zealanders are engaged in general DIY at least once a month, which goes to show that DIY really is in our DNA.” 

Of those doing DIY on a weekend, Aucklanders are most likely to be putting in storage and shelving (46%), while those in Northland are all about fencing (33%), and Kiwis in Hawke’s Bay love to do lawn and garden maintenance (95%). Wellingtonians are into DIY most frequently, followed by Manawatu-Wanganui and Canterbury.

University of Auckland senior lecturer in employee and organisational engagement Dr Helena Cooper-Thomas said recovery from the working week is important as it allows people to re-energise and return to work motivated and revitalised. And Arianna Huffington, who spoke in Auckland on Friday night about what she feels is the business world’s dangerous glamourisation of burnout and the importance of sleep, would undoubtedly agree. 

“If employees feel unproductive at the end of the week, there are some things they and their employers can do,” Dr Cooper-Thomas says. “For employees, they can think about what tasks they can still achieve – either tasks that they find motivating or tasks that will be useful but don’t require a lot of cognitive or physical effort. Even those who work with normal energy levels may benefit from employers creating flexibility so they can bring on the weekend early.”

In a book by Laura Vanderkam called What the Most Successful People do on the Weekendshe argued that they don’t do chores and she recommended doing some of those jobs during the week (whether successful people don’t do chores on the weekend because they’re already rich enough to pay someone else to do it isn’t mentioned). 

“The chores will take less time because you have less time. This will leave your weekends free for more rejuvenating activities.” 

And Mitre 10 is doing its best to ensure that more Kiwis put DIY projects in that category. Back in 2011, Stuff featured an article about the apparent death of DIY, with quotes from ex-chief executive of Mitre 10, John Hartmann. 

“Baby boomers are likely to now be the do-it-for-me generation – they’ve got more money, more stuff, more time and less desire for DIY. And then there is Generation X, the technology generation, where there seems to be a decline in physical handyman skills over previous generations.”

Increasing urbanisation, more time spent working and the plethora of cheap, disposable goods were all posited as reasons for the decline in DIY. And, as often mentioned, it can also be quite dangerous. 

Clewett didn’t have any stats on whether DIY has undergone a resurgence since then, but, anecdotally, he says there seems to be a growing interest and whenever he goes in to a Mitre 10 he finds it full of families (and “the wife telling the gentlemen what to do”). 

Shows like The Block NZ, which is sponsored by Mitre 10’s main competitor Bunnings, as well as campaigns like ‘Easy As’, seem to have stoked the DIY coals a bit recently. And, according to Sparc, gardening is still the second most popular ‘sport’ in New Zealand, behind walking. 

In a release from late 2013, Mitre 10 year-to-date sales figures for the first six months of the new financial year were up 9.1 percent on the previous comparable period and Hartmann was confident those numbers would remain firm for the remainder of the financial year.

Key findings of the survey include:

  • 41% said they avoid dealing with difficult tasks on a Friday in anticipation of the weekend
  • 64% spend the last two hours of work arranging weekend plans
  • 23% use that time to browse Facebook
  • 20% phone and email friends and family
  • 17% browse news site or online banking
  • 31% avoid having meetings on a Friday afternoon

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