Those were the Goldstein years

He’s been a fixture of the New Zealand advertising landscape for 11 years, but all good things must come to an end and, after TBWA\ lost the ASB account to Droga5 a few months back, the axe was always likely to come down on Ira Goldstein, New Zealand’s best-loved bumbling fictional American banking spy.

Deborah Simpson, ASB’s general manager brand and marketing (and, famously, past employee of TBWA\ who worked on the ASB account) says Goldstein will be farewelled with a final commemorative TVC starting on Sunday 26 September to celebrate the decade-long quest that saw him travel around the country and dive headfirst into the Kiwi culture (check out the Campbell Live story on the campaign, which includes an interview with the man who plays Goldstein, American actor Stephen Mellor).

“Ira Goldstein has been the central character in one of New Zealand’s most enduring and well loved campaigns,” Simpson says. “Kiwis have taken Goldstein into their hearts and homes, and he has become an iconic figure in our country’s advertising. But before we move on, we wanted to celebrate Goldstein; the time he’s spent at ASB and the way he’s entertained New Zealanders along the way. With the final ad, New Zealand can finally find out ‘what happens’ to Goldstein.”

Of course, we already picked the brains of the StopPress community on the best way to retire Goldstein. And there were plenty of interesting opinions put forward.

Goldstein has certainly been a loyal servant for the bank: he’s been in the top 10 most popular ads in 96 out of the 110 Admedia issues released since the launch of the Goldstein campaign, the campaign won the Axis People’s Choice Award in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2008 and it ranked as the most recognised advertising on TV in 2007 by the Nielsen Consumer Finance Monitor. But, like all long-serving characters, there were mutterings that he had done his dash and was losing his lustre.

Simpson attributes the success of the campaign to the creative talent of TBWA\Tequila, together with the trio of key characters involved in the series: Mellor, Australian actor Bruce Venables (the Boss) and Kiwi director Paul Middleditch.

After Goldstein shuffles off, she says ASB plans to continue to go down the entertainment path (perhaps with robotic Facebranch tellers or more claims about its Kiwi status). And, judging by the commentary on DraftFCB’s recently released and long-awaited National Bank ad, there will certainly be a huge amount of interest in what Droga5 manage to come up with for the new campaign that’s scheduled to launch later this year.

“Without giving away any details, I can assure our audiences that ASB’s new campaign will reflect the unique personality of our brand, as well as the humour New Zealanders have come to expect from ASB,” she says. But, from the snippets seen on the shoot, it seems as though it will stoke the patriotic fires further and presumably talk up the remarkable marvellousness of the ASB staff.

After this commercial goes to air and the contract finishes at the end of the month, there will also be plenty of interest in what the TBWA\ folk, and particularly Dave Walden, who has been unusually tight-lipped on the matter, have to say about how the whole affair played out.

The final Goldstein instalment will air between Sunday 26 September and Friday 1 October and will also be available on ASB’s website until 1 October.

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