News stampede tramples hundreds of innocent bystanders…

… as Yellow wins some more awards, the wheels on the Instant Kiwi scratchie bus go round and round, Fresh PR slips into something more comfortable, the University of Auckland School of Business reaches a big milestone with its 40,000th Short Course attendant, TVNZ ups its streaming, TV3 spruces up its website, the crowd goes wild for Microsoft Kinect and Sealegs is endorsed by scientists.

Yellow turns gold

In what it sees as an endorsement of its steadily increasing digital prowess (and what many others will see as being quite ironic given its current financial concerns and increased competition), Yellow has been awarded the Digital Brand of the Year by the Asian Digital Media Awards, beating some of the world’s leading brands for the accolade.

Yellow and its agencies Colenso BBDO/ AIM Proximity received the award after winning Platinum and Best in Show awards for the Yellow Chocolate campaign, which also took out Gold in the Media Innovation category and Gold in the Best Integrated Campaign.

“This award highlight’s Yellow’s commitment to online and digital development as a core part of our business model,” says Kellie Nathan, marketing director at Yellow. “We are making a significant investment in enhancing and multiplying our digital presence this year.”

She says recognition for these awards deservedly goes to Colenso BBDO/AIM Proximity for devising very clever campaigns for Yellow Chocolate and also for Yellow Treehouse, which last year also received the Platinum Best in Show award.

“The commitment and creativity shown by the agency has been superb,” she says.

The Digital Media Awards is the largest digital media award show event for the Asia Pacific region and is now in its fourth year. The awards attract over 4,000 entries featuring some of the region’s best digital work from advanced markets such as Japan, China and Korea as well as the expanding digital markets of India, Australia and New Zealand. Last year the Digital Brand of the Year award went to IBM.

Scratch that

Keep your eyes peeled (and scratched) for the Instant Kiwi bus, a mobile scratchie that’s heading around the country over the next two weeks. The DDB Mangosteens and experiential guru Steve Kane are claiming responsibility for this one. And they’re also claiming it’s a world first.

Of course, punters who give the vehicle a rub are in for plenty of booty, such as Instant Kiwi tickets and even $10,000 cash. Wonder if Mexi Doug’s driving? (and if you didn’t get a chance to see DDB’s latest spot for Sky on our TVC of the Week section, it’s worth a watch)Youtube Video

The shoe fits

Fresh PR has been chosen as the agency for the country’s biggest footwear retailer Number One Shoes, previously known as Number One Shoe Warehouse.

“We are pleased to appoint Fresh as our preferred PR agency with the clear objective of demonstrating to New Zealand how Number One Shoes is evolving,” says Bianca Edenborough, national marketing manager. “With so much change in our business, Fresh PR’s creativity plus strong industry reputation means they are the right partner for our brand.”

Number One Shoes has set a strong focus on their summer range across their 49 stores and their website, logo and TVC campaign have undergone major facelifts recently.

“Having Number One Shoes on board is brilliant, it’s the perfect mix to our portfolio of fabulous clients. They’re open to our creative approach to PR and we see a great partnership ahead. The office is buzzing about all the opportunities, fueled by the fact we are all complete shoe fanatics,” says Karen Maurice-O’Leary, Fresh PR’s creative director.

A course is a course, of course

When Tracey Smith arrived at The University of Auckland Business School a few days ago for a two-day Short Course on Mental Toughness, she became the 40,000th person to attend a Short Course since it began back in 1996. The training and quality consultant from Kelly Services had just settled into her seat when director of executive development Darren Levy announced the special milestone and gave her a hamper and a voucher for another course.

“The learning environment here is very positive and supportive for people wanting to develop. It’s a real gift to the business community to have access to something like this,” she says.

Smith and her fellow participants had walked into the seminar room to find red balloons, red cupcakes and bottles of red wine on their tables to mark the ruby milestone. Before handing over to Jamie Ford, a seasoned adviser on mental toughness and emotional resilience, Levy explained the reason for the decorations and shared some of the history behind the programme.

“In the early years, we were delivering 30 to 50 courses to around 1,000 people per year. Now we deliver nearly 300 courses with enrolment numbers increasing steadily beyond 4,000 every year. We have cultivated the mindsets and skillsets of 40,000 people, so the programme is well positioned to keep delivering its vision of ‘lifting the competency of the nation’,” Levy says.

Short Courses is now a multimillion dollar business, covering almost every conceivable area of business, management and leadership, and courses are taught in the Business School’s Owen G Glenn Building, as well as in Tauranga, Wellington, Queenstown and many in-company programmes delivered across New Zealand and Australia.

“Successfully running over 2,600 courses for 40,000 people is a clear endorsement of our programme and evidence of the huge demand for professional development that is tailored and relevant to the needs of the business community,” Darren says.

This week’s milestone capped off a successful 12 months for the Short Courses team, which last year won the New Zealand Post Business-to-Business Award at the TVNZ New Zealand Marketing Awards.

Streamy windows

Can’t be arsed watching TVNZ Ondemand videos because the picture’s fuzzy and the streaming speed too slow? Now you can catch up with who’s confused on Shorty St or who’s been kicked off MasterChef with a higher-quality 1500kbps stream. Previously only 700kbps or 300kbps streaming options were available.

“In the past we’ve kept to more modest streaming video bit rates to let as many people as possible watch and enjoy TVNZ Ondemand, but as broadband penetration and data allowances have increased, along with the number of households that have access to high-speed internet in New Zealand, we want to give viewers the option of an improved viewing experience,” says TVNZ’s general manager of the Digital Media Division Tom Cotter.

TVNZ is also promising to “roll out a number of enhancements” over the next few months to make your online screening more enjoyable. StopPress likes the ‘dim the lights’ option so you don’t see all the other guff on screen.

So if your internet service provider is Orcon or Snap, make the most of this upgrade – TVNZ allows unmetered Ondemand viewing that doesn’t affect your monthly allowable bandwidth.

3 Bags full

Speaking of digi-things, MediaWorks Interactive has launched its new tv3.co.nz and director of interactive Siobhan McKenna says it’s easy on the eye, world class on show content and presents more opportunities for advertisers to make a big splash cost effectively.

TV3 has expanded the selection of show content with new mini sites for all major shows featuring “compelling show art work”.

From each show page viewers can now easily view episodes available on demand and interaction with past and present content is now possible as viewers are able to comment directly on a cast member or past show recap, as well as directly sharing this information with their friends on their favourite social networks.

Adding yet more interaction, users can now vote for their favourite show and dictate the top 5 list on the homepage by clicking the heart on show pages. It will also feature a rebuilt EPG-style TV Guide and, after research showed many users visit tv3.co.nz looking for news, 3 News headlines will be hosted on the homepage.

“This website will make it much easier for viewers to be heard… so start talking,” McKenna says.

Body movin’

Microsoft has launched its ridiculously cool controller-free entertainment option in New Zealand with Kinect for Xbox 360. And whaddya know, it’s just in time for Christmas.

Predicted to be one of the most significant consumer electronic product launches in history, Kinect’s technology features a revolutionary sensor which enables full body play for the first time. Instead of using a traditional controller and pressing buttons, the player’s full body is captured by the Kinect sensor, enabling their movements and gestures to control the action. Nintendo Wii? Never heard of it.

For all those who say video games are directly responsible for the obesity epidemic, Microsoft says suck on this, because Kinect, like the Wii before it, actually gets people off the couch to interact with the game, allowing you to kick a ball or control a movie with your hand.

“This is the most transformative product launch in the history of our business,” says David McLean, general manager of Xbox, Microsoft Australia and New Zealand.

Microsoft has already sold one million Kinect sensors worldwide in the 10 days since its US launch on November 4 and it’s on track to reach its forecast of five million units to be sold worldwide prior to Christmas. In New Zealand, there will be 19 games available by Christmas.

“Kinect has incredible appeal to people of all ages, especially those who have never before picked up a controller. Additionally, when we combine Kinect with our Xbox LIVE capabilities, games and movies are all available on demand, at the wave of a hand,” says McLean. “There’s no question Kinect will be one of the most sought after gifts this year—retailers are even re-configuring their stores for Kinect and investing to ensure they can meet demand.”

Current Xbox 360 console owners in New Zealand can purchase the Kinect sensor for NZ$229.00 (RRP)** packaged with the Kinect Adventures game. Additionally, new customers to Xbox will have an all-in-one opportunity to jump in with a new offer from participating retailers for NZ$499.00.

On the high sealegs

New Zealand designed and made Sealegs Amphibious Marine Craft has won the Recreational Grand section in the Best of What’s New 2010 awards from the world’s largest science and technology magazine, Popular Science, joining past winners such as NASA, Mercedes, 3M, Canon, and Sony.

Each year, the editors review thousands of products in search of the world’s top tech innovations of the year. Sealegs, which, moderatelyu interestingly is the All Blacks “official marine partner”, was chosen as one of them and will be featured in the much-anticipated December issue of Popular Science, the most widely read issue of the year with seven million readers.

“Sealegs was conceived as a solution to a problem,” says Maurice Bryham, Sealegs founder. “The problem: all the hassle and time involved on launching and retrieving a boat from a beach front property. The solution: Sealegs Amphibious Marine Craft which drive on land without compromising on water performance.  Sealegs is a revolutionary patented product in the marine industry. We pride ourselves on our uncompromised quality and attention to engineering detail and we are thrilled that this award adds testimony to our innovative and high technological standards.”

Yakkety Yak

DB and Monteith’s put on a bit of a show to launch the new craft beer, Single Source. And Treasury Wine Estates, aka Foster’s NZ, has also released a newbie in New Zealand, the Fat Yak Pale Ale from Matilda Bay Brewing Company in Australia.

Released this month, Fat Yak, which is made from New Zealand Nelson Sauvin hops, is made in the North American style pale ale and is the second, and easier drinking, pale ale to decorate Matilda Bay’s line up of hand-crafted beers.

So why the name? Previous Matilda Bay beers have been named after animals, starting with Dogbolter, then Redback, Beez Neez and Sebastian the duck. So why stop there?

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