Trade Me takes to TV with focus on new goods, therapy possibly required after seeing naked fat man on bike

Trade Me kicked off back in 1999 when Sam Morgan saw an unmet need for an online marketplace selling used goods. That’s largely still how consumers see it. But around 40 percent of its listings are new goods, so it is aiming to draw attention to that aspect of its business in the lead up to Christmas with a campaign via Whybin\TBWA featuring naked fat men, well-coiffed dogs and apparent rectal probes. 

The audience is presented with a selection of both new and used item options and asked to decide what’s right for them—from quality products like cameras, music equipment, power tools and beauty products, right through to bike shorts and cooking thermometers.

“We thought we’d encourage a bit of debate about what kinds of things people prefer to buy new or used,” says chief creative officer Toby Talbot. “And we did it in what we consider to be a unique Trade Me tone of voice.”

He says Trade Me is a great client to work with as it has such a refreshing attitude. And while it’s now a massive company, it still has a cheeky, challenger brand mentality, an attitude that many online businesses that have been fighting against the retail establishment often tend to exhibit. 

“You only have to go into the offices to see and feel that attitude,” he says. “The new focus is quite a big thing for them. But at the same time they don’t want to disassociate themselves from used goods.” 

Talbot says the Trade Me big wigs were shown the campaign last week and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. 

“And it’s because it’s them. It’s important that we managed to get that right.” 

Whybin\TBWA won the business back in late August after a competitive pitch, soon after it was relieved of its duties with 2degrees. At the time, chief executive Todd McLeay said: “It’s an iconic brand. And while its heritage comes from digital, it’s looking to think a bit differently and broadly about how it communicates.”

Overseas, many digital entities, such as Google, Facebook, Ebay and Amazon, spend a lot of money on ‘traditional’ advertising because it allows them to show different types of attributes in a short amount of time. And TradeMe is now on a similar path, as evidenced by its recent TV campaign by JWT for TradeMe Jobs.

“Losing 2degrees was obviously a blow,” says Talbot. “But to replace it with, dare I say it, a more trusted and more loved brand is great. Long may we continue to show overweight naked men in their ads.”

The campaign will launch in three phases, with the TVC supported by a “fair bit of digital activity,” including interactive banners that show goods in their new and used forms. This will be followed by Adshels later in October (there are also some special builds planned) and a live charity auction in November where New Zealanders will be able to buy the new and used items and props from the TVC, print, online and outdoor on the site (any takers for a used bike seat?).

Trade Me has the used market practically sewn up and Talbot says it has such a good reputation among the 700,000 New Zealanders who visit the site each day that selling new goods—and working closely with New Zealand brands—is an area the company is focusing on more heavily in an effort to keep growing. 

Trade Me, which released its annual report last month and clocked in with a new record high net profit of $78.6m, has also made some changes to its landing page and the new and used tabs to reference its increased focus on new goods. And, not surprisingly, there’s plenty of chatter about the changes in the Trade Me forums (they even noticed a font change). 

Talbot says these largely self-regulated notice boards, which he has heard make up the second biggest social network in the country, are an indication of the love people have for the brand and the fact that “they all feel like they’re part of it”. And the wall in the Wellington office that’s dedicated to showcasing the country’s most creative auctions is testament to the love the brand has for the users (Talbot’s favourite is the chap from Southland who couldn’t sell his 300 acre farm, so he sold his tractor instead—and chucked in the farm for free). 

He says Trade Me, like any good business, keeps an eye on what overseas players in the online space are doing and what products they are launching. The most common comparison is Ebay, but it is also looking at other successful online retailers like ASOS to see how they’re displaying goods.  


Trade Me

CEO – Jon Macdonald

Chief Operating Officer – Mike O’Donnell

General Manager of Marketing and Demand – Aimee McCammon


Chief Creative Officer – Toby Talbot.

Creative Directors – Jonathan McMahon, Lisa Fedyszyn

Creative – Jonathan McMahon, Lisa Fedyszyn, CeCe Chu, Ryan Price,

Clemens Zlami, Jordan Dale

Digital Director – Ross Howard

Head of PR & Activation – Lauren Vosper (Eleven)

Senior Consultants – Cassidy Meredith, Julia Rogan (Eleven)

Group Account Director – Jodi Willocks

Senior Account Manager – Sarah Cowan

Digital Designer – David Minty

Digital Producer – Johannes Gertz

Print Producers – Michelle Hong, Ali Vernon

Designer – Chris Lewis

Retoucher – Paul Hewson

Head of Content – Liz Rosby

Graphics – Jim Hudson

Match Photographers

Photographer – Vanessa Wu

Print producer – Emily Moon

The Sweet Shop

Director – Damien Shatford

Producer – Ben Dailey

Executive Producer – Fiona King

DOP – Crighton Bone

Editor – Michael Lonsdale


Post-production – Mat Ellin, Andy Timms & Dave McLaren

Harmonic Studio

Music – Peter Hobbs

Liquid Studios

Sound – Craig Matuschka


Communications Manager – Ros Ross


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