By the numbers: how the lives of advertising executives stack up next to regular Kiwis

The advertising executive is a strange but predictable beast. It shares similarities with the average New Zealander, but is different in pertinent ways.

While the advertising executive’s raison d’être is to know and understand the shopping, watching, working and lifestyle habits of the average New Zealander, it does not practise these habits itself.

Latest statistics from Nielsen compare the lives of ad executives, or ‘adlanders’ to the lives of average New Zealanders, and unsurprisingly there is quite a divide.

For a start, adlanders have different taste in television from the rest of the population.

It would benefit the advertising executive to, next time it switches on the Apple TV and sits down to watch the latest episode of 7 Days (it often records this show because it’s often out late on a Friday at work functions), think about instead flicking over to Highway Cops.

Call it ‘getting to know one’s audience’.

While the average New Zealander’s favourite local telly shows are New Zealand’s Got Talent, One News and Highway Cops, adlanders prefer to watch The Block NZ, followed by 7 Days, My Kitchen Rules and Shortland Street.

The statistics are not surprising, but they are a good reminder to advertising executives to stay connected with their audience, justONE and .99 managing director Ben Goodale says.

“I’ve actually sent it around the office saying, ‘here’s another good reminder that we have to walk in our customers’ shoes’,” he says.

“We encourage people to get out of the office and not just go to client offices but also interact with the brand, go to the stores, go and shop in them. And if it’s a service-based operation go to their satellite operations. Go and sit in the call centres and listen in – it’s that connecting thing.”

While advertising executives might have nice homes, cars and gadgets, it doesn’t mean they’ve lost touch with reality, Goodale says.

“The skill is to have empathy for people. Just because you drive a nice car and live in a nice house and eat out often doesn’t mean you lose empathy.”

Many ad executives come from middle New Zealand, and have chosen the job for its lifestyle.

“It’s a work-hard-play-hard kind of industry. That is part of the appeal; people don’t mind working hard because there’s some lifestyle benefits around it, and it’s quite appealing,” Goodale says.

In Auckland specifically 16 percent of agency folk live in Grey Lynn, Parnell or Remuera. They are joined by just one percent of the rest of Auckland.

If you want to pick up an adlander, statistically speaking you would be best to hang about the Ponsonby or Newmarket malls, where half of Auckland’s agency executives went in the last month.

You shouldn’t have to fight off too many non-ad types either, as adlanders are more than three times more likely to be there than your average Aucklander age 18 – 25.

Definitely do not go to Westfield Manukau if you are trying to score an adlander through statistical stalking.

“Auckland Adland employees are five times more likely to have been to Blue Breeze Inn, Chapel, Mexico or Ostro in the last week than to have visited Westfield Manukau in the last month,” Nielsen reports.

The way advertising executives consumer their media is different too.

While 92 percent of agency employees own a smartphone, they might be surprised to read on the small screen that 32 percent of the New Zealand population does not.

More than half of adlanders own a tablet (57 percent), while only 31 percent of the general population enjoys the same luxury.

When it comes to online shopping, agency people do it more often than your average Joe.

Ninety-seven percent of agency staff bought something online in the last year, compared to just 68 percent of the general population.

But maybe that’s because they never have time to go to physical shop?

The advertising executive is in its natural habitat when at work, or at a work function.

According to Nielsen, more than four out of five adlanders worked late in the last month, while just over half of average Kiwis said they’d done the same. Seventy-one percent had attended a work function.

Despite this, ad types are still able to do more. The propensity to exercise more, travel more, and go out more points to the obvious: more disposable cash than the average New Zealander.

While Nielsen did not have comparative salary statistics for agency peeps versus average New Zealanders, ad people certainly seem to have more cash to splash.

“Their incomes are not spent entirely on rent/mortgages or going out.

“They have a much higher propensity to be part of Kiwisaver, to own investment property, shares or a holiday home than the average Kiwi,” Nielsen states.

The report was a “bit of an education piece” for the advertising world, Nielsen research director Tony Boyte says.

“We’re always fascinated to get a gauge for the ad agency world, mainly because they’re the ones who make the decisions for pointing advertisers to which media they may go to, to what device they should be advertising on,” he says.

He says agencies use a lot of research, but it was easy to default to asking people around you for opinion when often those people’s lives are just like your own.

“We want them to use consumer research where possible,” Boyte says.

While many of the results were expected, Boyte was surprised to find adlanders spend marginally less time watching video online.

“I think the reason for it was, when we got into other parts of the research, it’s just the amount of time they are working. They’re pretty hard workers I guess they don’t get away with watching that many videos at work,” he says.

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