Toyota joins TVNZ’s talent quest

In February, TVNZ and NZ on Air announced they would be adding to the cacophony of reality talent competitions on TV with a multi-million dollar production of New Zealand’s Got Talent. NZ On Air committed $1.6 million in funding and TVNZ went hunting for commercial partners to add to its own $1.6 million contribution. And the first major sponsor has been announced, with Toyota signing up as a key commercial partner.

The deal, the cost of which was not disclosed, means Toyota will have its brand fully integrated on air, online and across interactive and social platforms, spanning over nine months of activity and exposure. And Toyota New Zealand general manager of marketing, Neeraj Lala says the show is the perfect event to continue its vision of adding value to its customers, communities and the country.

It’s not clear whether TVNZ has signed up any other sponsors yet. But TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards told the Otago Daily Times it has “had expressions of interest from a number of potential partners, but we’re not at the point where we can say anything more. The details will have to wait until the financial questions are sorted”.

NZ On Air chief executive Jane Wrightson said the government funding would not be used to pay the international format fee to the owners, FremantleMedia, and its contribution would not be more than half the total budget.

TVNZ’s head of sales and marketing Paul Maher says the commercial partnerships will ensure TVNZ can “deliver a big budget local production at a world class level, with producers traveling across New Zealand to find the best talent and give people of all ages the best shot”.

“That in turn means we can deliver our partners the best return on investment as Kiwis flock to engage with New Zealand’s biggest entertainment show of the year,” he says. “We are delighted to have such a significant New Zealand brand as Toyota as our partner and look forward to creating some ground-breaking, creative innovations that will set a new standard for partnership in New Zealand.”

Unlike MasterChef, or The Block, which is soon to start on TV3, it’s hard to see too many opportunities for the car brand to insert itself into the editorial content (aside perhaps from a series of ‘look at us, we’re driving around New Zealand’ shots or maybe some car-related tomfoolery like this from India), which now seems to be seen as a dream result for sponsors of reality shows.

The funding proposal says it hopes to get a higher proportion of viewers than the 82 percent who watched New Zealand Idol in 2006. But if it doesn’t get there, at least it won’t have too much trouble beating the last effort from Prime. Prime, which broadcasts America’s Got Talent, launched a local version of the show in 2008, with Andrew Mulligan and Jason Reeves as hosts and Miriama Smith, Paul Ellis and Richard Driver as judges. It only lasted one season.

Given the gnashing of teeth over the cutting of funding for public broadcasting on TVNZ6 and 7, which was given some extra fuel when TVNZ announced a $19 million profit recently, the decision to splash out on a big budget talent show from overseas has got a few commentators hot under the collar.

Breakfast weatherman Tamati Coffey has been named as the host and the official Call to Action for entries commences early April. Seven auditions will be held around the country and 13 episodes will screen.


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