‘There is a Survivorin all of us’ according to TVNZ’s latest campaign for the second season of Survivor New Zealand, which will start up on Sunday at 7pm. And after whispers the show may not return after the first season struggled to retain its audience, the new season has been rejigged and is filled with comical controversy.
The American-born reality television programme Survivor started up in the year 2000, and quickly turned into a global phenomenon. The show has since been replicated in 50 other countries – and has been claimed to have ‘spawned an entire industry’, and later cause a ‘reality TV onslaught’. Additionally, Variety suggests that its global success saw the birth of subsequent prime-time television shows ‘Lost’ and ‘The Apprentice’, which adopted the same successful model.
However, after the global reality TV franchise submerged into New Zealand’s landscape for the first-time last year, it had an underwhelming outing. According to theNew Zealand Herald, Nielsen data showed a departing local audience with an average of 144,000 viewers.
TVNZ has now reflected on the performance with changes coming to the second season, set in northern Thailand, and its campaign. After conducting consumer research via Colmar Brunton - it has upped the stakes with higher winnings of $250,000, hairy new challenges and a bunch of new features including hidden immunity idols and eliminations every episode.
To promote it, the campaign has rolled out across TV, radio, large-scale OOH (static and digital), mall screens and digital platforms and reflects the new direction of the show.
TVNZ marketing manager Reuben Wiremu says that the primary focus of the campaign was to show the transformation from everyday Kiwi personalities into Survivor contestants, as well as significant format changes that repositioned Survivor away from the previous campaign.
Played out on social media, the castaways were introduced in batches, and each described why they could win the competition. Additionally, the campaign aimed to go back to the Survivor roots with a classic Survivor colour scheme to evoke the Thai jungle setting.
Wiremu says that last campaign was too “complex” and has since been simplified. A noted difference includes choosing a batch of five contestants to focus on, instead of each of the 18 contestants individually, which Wiremu says was harder for the audience to be invested and engaged with.
The five contestants who were profiled separately came from diverse fields including a dairy farmer, a real estate agent, a clinical psychologist and a photojournalist. While the cast shows a differing bunch of contestants, it tied into the theme that ‘There is a Survivor in all of us’.
TVNZ creative director Adam Sarkar says it tried to represent the innate survival instinct of the nation and it was motivated to show the transition of everyday Kiwis into survivors.
He says that the campaign has gone extremely well in its audience sentiment, and its recent Survivor post online had a reach of 864,705.
In terms of the increased challenges within the programme, Wiremu says there are three different challenges packed into the first episode and that “they are all bloody intense”. One of the challenges shown briefly on social media, sees a physical and muddy affair, with plenty of rough and tumble.
Asked what the conditions were like in northern Thailand, Wiremu and Sarkar share some frightening experiences with wildlife, including a Mexican stand-off with a spider, as well as dealing with the 40-degree heat.
Furthermore, the new series sees a partnership between TVNZ and NZME, which saw The Hits and ZM contribute to the cast with each station delivering a wildcard contest.
Wiremu says the strategy strengthened the partnership between the two media companies and helped to build the Survivor brand as both The Hits and ZM were invested in the show after producing their own contestants.
Another element to the launch of Survivor on 7pm is that it clashes with MediaWorks' Dancing With The Stars on Three.
The two television heavyweights have thrown a few cheeky blows, with ex MediaWorks employee Wiremu posing alongside TVNZ’s internal branding: "There’s no room for sequins here."
MediaWorks has since replied, stoking the flames with a glitter-laden Dancing With The Stars contestant walking into the TVNZ head-quarters to show that "there is always room for sparkles".
Wiremu says there is nothing wrong with a bit of cheeky banter as the two shows are completely different properties. He wishes each one well.