School’s back, and so is NZ Fire Service’s emotional fire alarm TVC

M&C Saatchi’s emotionally charged “Installation” campaign for the New Zealand Fire Service launches new ad coinciding with the start of the new school year, grabbing at all new heart strings.

The TVC series tells the story of a guilt-ridden father (played by Ata Pauaana) , whose daughter is left scarred after a fire that could have been prevented with a fire alarm.

The latest ad shows the daughter getting ready for the first day of school, with the father promising her that her scars wouldn’t be noticed by the other kids.

“I told her that everything would be like it was before the fire. I lied to my daughter today,” says the father.

This is the third spot produced for the script, with the success of the original ad prompting the NZ Fire Service to commission three more, says Wicky Tafau, copywriter for the campaign at M&C Saatchi. Nightmares, another spot in the campaign aired last month, and Tafau says two more TVCs will be released throughout the year.

Rightly or wrongly, the father-daughter relationship within this series of 30-second spots carry a lot of emotional power. Asked if there is an element of emotional exploitation in the campaign, Tafau says it was a research driven decision, aimed at achieving the maximum impact for the campaign.

“We’re at a point where we need to do this. With the very first Install ad, we had some powerful insights from research which found parents thought there were things worse than death, including children being injured in fire. It came out very clearly in the research,” says Tafau.

The brief from the NZ Fire Service was to increase the reach for its smoke alarm programme into the Pacific Island community. Tafau says actor Pauaana was an admirable and relatable representative for the community. Pauaana is also more prepared than most for a series of ads about fire safety, according to the NZ Fire Service his father received severe burns when his family’s home burned down to the ground in Samoa, at the age of five.

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