StopPress/MediaWorks TVC of the Year: New World, Vodafone and Sky take top honours

There was intellectual dissection, there were furrowed brows, there were plates of calamari (hopefully the kind from the sea), there were big jugs of beer, there were raised voices, there were occasional bouts of physical violence and, eventually, there was quorum as a panel of esteemed judges chose New World and Colenso BBDO’s rather fruity Fruit and Vege Pro as the victor in the StopPress/MediaWorks TVC of the Year competition, with Vodafone and FCB’s Piggy Sue and Sky and DDB’s Murmuration second and third. 

As part of the competition, we run a poll on StopPress asking readers to choose their favourite ads from a selection of 52 taken from our TVC of the Week section. This year we received over 1,100 votes and Vodafone and FCB’s Piggy Sue took it out. Not surprisingly, ads from the agencies or clients with the biggest desire for victory/most people often win. So to balance that out we take the top performing ads from the poll, add in a few of our favourites and then assemble a few knowledgeable humans—The Collective’s executive creative director Mike O’Sullivan, MediaWorks’ creative director Ant Farac, ex-creative director at Media Design School David Bell and StopPress/NZ Marketing editor/associate publisher Ben Fahy—to decide on the overall winners.  

  • Check out the story about the People’s Choice winner, Vodafone and FCB’s Piggy Sue, here.
  • Check out the winners from 201120122013 and 2014

StopPress/MediaWorks TVC of the Year

First: New World ‘Fruit and Vege Pro’ by Colenso BBDO and Finch

When the Aussie trade media are singing the praises of our supermarket advertising, you know something’s going on. And New World and Colenso BBDO have been pushing the boat out for a few years now, with everything from its Every Day a New World campaign to its infomercial-parodying Fresh Every Day efforts. The judges agreed that in a category renowned for smack you over the head, price-led communications, promoting its range of fruit and vegetables—and the staff responsible for them—by showing a blossoming romance between a mouth-breathing, meat-eating, sneans-wearing chap and his object of affection—while also including a talking yam and the song ‘Dream Weaver’—was deserving of victory.

As O’Sullivan says: “There was heated discussion as Ben Fahy tried to sway the jury to his favourite [ed: Auckland Glass was robbed]. But in the end it was down to the TVC that had it all. The Fruit & Veg Pro for New World is funny, quirky, brave, and very different in the category. The agency and client deserve a pat on the back.”

  • Check out the story behind New World’s winning ad here.

Second: Vodafone ‘Piggy Sue’ by FCB and Revolver

Interestingly, as Spark continues to move into territory Vodafone once owned, Vodafone seems to be moving back to territory Telecom used to own. And it’s tried to up the love—and the New Zealandness—by telling a great story about a man and a lost pig. It’s endearingly Kiwi, it’s beautiful storytelling and it’s been a hit with the public. As Vodafone’s Matt Williams said: it’s had great reactions from adults and kids alike “coming into our stores and telling our teams how much they love Piggy-Sue. We’ve also seen unprecedented levels of positive sentiment on our social media channels”. Although judging from the number of complaints on the Facebook page, that wouldn’t be too hard. 

Farac: “Telcos recently have relied on technology and innovation to push their brands so it was refreshing to see Vodafone’s ‘piggy’ break away from this trend. While a Zeitgeist moment in advertising this year with BP’s lost rabbit, ‘piggy’ had the x-factor. An emotive story perfectly cast with just the right combination of charm and cheese … or bacon and eggs.”

Third: Sky ‘Murmuration’ by DDB and The Sweet Shop

Sky has a long history of creative advertising, most of it with DDB and most of it tending towards the humorous. After its ‘Come with Us’ rebrand, things got a bit more serious. And while Sky’s digital efforts, particularly its live streaming during high demand events, have been criticised by some, the judges agreed that showing the product benefit of its revamped ondemand service with a young girl who can control nature was a big creative leap and was beautifully done.  

David Bell: “How do you sell a product whose main selling points are, on the face of it, things that only need to be explained once and that have already been pretty well established? Answer: you go deeper. Murmuration gets to the heart of where TV viewing is heading, which is the opposite of rational, button pushing, technology. The flip from ‘control’ to ‘freedom’ might look simple, but the emotional leap is profound. ‘Murmuration’ isn’t a particularly innovative ‘big idea’, but it makes its point beautifully, and, as a hugely relevant bonus, it demonstrates the most compelling aspect of great TV: immersive storytelling.”


While there’s no doubt all three of the overall winners are well-crafted, the judges decided to award three more ads for their special brand of craftiness. 

Spark ‘Never Stop Starting’ by Saatchi & Saatchi and Goodoil

Very few would argue that the process of turning the mostly hated Telecom into the much less hated, much more vibrant Spark was a masterclass in rebranding. And that seems to be paying dividends now. While the brand has made a conscious decision to move away from the big TV productions of old, it needed to kick things off properly and it did that with an effects-laden manifesto ad that visualised the importance of adapting.

Farac: “Epic is as epic does. Spark wanted to make a statement with this and the future they envisioned is becoming increasingly apparent. The first spot set the bar for them. A slick ad with excellent visual FX set to an amazing Kiwi backdrop. Boom!”

Hallenstein’s High Performance Suits by Lachlan McPherson and Friends, Joel Kefali and Nik Beachman. 

Hallensteins has been on a mission to up its cool factor in recent years. And it’s been doing a bloody good job of it with its Brothers campaign showing good looking chaps doing good-looking things in good-looking places. And, just as Sky’s ad moved away from rational messaging and showed a product benefit in a creative way, so too did Hallensteins by heading to Utah, getting its high-performance suits on a few motocross riders—including well-known maniac Carey Hart—and putting them to the test.

Mike O’Sullivan: “The Carey Hart Hallenstein Brothers spot stuck out for being pure rock ’n’ roll. The demo of a high performance suit was outweighed by the big, beautiful setting of Bonneville Salt Flat. Amazing cinematography, and a great track made it the leader in the ‘cool’ category.”

Air NZ 75th anniversary by True

Whether it’s big budget safety videos or quirky online spots tempting Aussies to the slopes, Air New Zealand tends to favour the irreverent approach. And as part of its impressive multi-pronged 75th anniversary campaign, it dug through the crates, dredged up some nostalgia and ended up with a tongue-in-cheek TVC that provided a glimpse at how little—or, in the case on inflight smoking, how much—the experience has changed since the golden age of flying.

David Bell: “I’ve made several TVCs that required trawling through decades of footage, so I know how hard it is to assemble something decent from ‘given’ material. I never managed to do it this well though. What makes this ad good isn’t just that the bits are put together neatly, it’s because it’s done with wit and charm, and although it is knowingly ironic, there’s a refreshing lack of cynicism. The copywriting isn’t ‘clever’ for its own sake, but it cleverly weaves the footage into a compelling reason for getting on a plane and flying down to Te Papa to see what will clearly be a very rewarding exhibition. And not on Jetstar. My only real gripe is that, even though Air NZ still provides one of the better flying experiences, I do miss my lobster.”

Degree of difficulty/bravery/potential for disaster 

All advertising is a risk. But a few of the entries stuck out for being very good under difficult circumstances. 

Michael Hill ‘We’re for love’ by Colenso BBDO, Webber Presents and Artifex

Michael Hill and Colenso BBDO’s ‘We’re for love’ campaign was an international effort (it also ran as a Superbowl spot), and there’s always a danger these international campaigns are so generic they appeal to everyone and no-one at the same time. Added to that, the casting process involved talking to thousands of real people in New York to find the best stories, it didn’t conform to the stereotypical ideas of beauty in advertising and it was also attempting to shift the perception of Michael Hill from a low-to-mid level retailer to something a bit more upmarket. While the cynics among us might say this is all about the commoditisation of love (something the diamond cartel did so well/terribly with its social/commercial engineering), doing it with real people makes it seem quite authentic. 

As Colenso BBDO’s Nick Worthington said: “It was a lovely job, asking and telling real stories of love, what people would do for it, what they’ve done for it. And love is of course the thing we all crave. The thing we love to give and receive and jewellery and Michael Hill International are a natural part of it.”    

New World ‘We’d do almost anything for netball’ by Colenso BBDO and Finch 

Good sponsorship ads are fairly rare. And while the colliding of two worlds for comic effect has been done many times before, the judges gave this one points for applying the idea inventively and relevantly. It bears repeat viewing, it included a host of New World staff (like many of its other ads) and it makes the connection between New World and NZ Netball into a big thing.

Health Promotion Agency ‘Not Beersies’ by FCB and Robber’s Dog

Trying to convince Kiwis to drink less beer by using beer advertising cliches to promote water would undoubtedly be placed in the ‘this is just so crazy it might work’ category. But as viewers instantly turn off when faced with rational messages about not drinking/speeding/smoking/sexing etc, it’s important to try and get people’s attention and it tried to do this by trying to knock them off their axis. One of the judges said it actually made him want to drink more beer, but points for being subversive, funny and oh so meta.

When the TVC of the Week feature was launched about five years ago, it was, as you’d expect, largely TVCs that we showcased. And there is a definite art to fitting a commercial message into a 15, 30 or 60 second slot as opposed to an unspecified time with longer-form online content. Now the name probably doesn’t do justice to the range of video content being made and the clever ways in which video content is used—both on TV and online—so we decided a new category for ideas that don’t really fit was required.

The Forward-thinking, cross platform, not just a TVC, sort of digital, blah blah blah

Last year, Land Rover noticed a heart-felt ‘Dear John’ listing for a disassembled, de-registered 1957 Series I Land Rover and decided to buy it covertly (for $1,330 and a bottle of Johnnie Walker), restore it to its former glory and then give it back to the unsuspecting owners. With the help of Tony Katterns at Custom Metal Shapers in Auckland’s East Tamaki, they restored it over five months, filming everything along the way. 

Under false pretenses, and with hidden cameras running, three of the four previous owners were lured to a house in Kumeu and were convinced to come inside to watch the ads. Then, a 45 second spot that showed their newly restored Landy driving around Central Otago screened during Seven Sharp, finishing with the message ‘Claire has the keys’. 

The footage was screened on Seven Sharp later that week (there was some teasing on the Land Rover New Zealand Facebook page). And, as well as their own social media channels, there was also plenty of social media action from those involved (and from Dan Carter). It also got a heap of attention on a big range of sites, including Reddit and Mashable, and it clocked up millions of views. So, rather than using TV to target everyone, it used TV very cleverly to target a few people and then that puppy was spread far and wide. 

The judges felt Air New Zealand and True’s Safety Videos also warranted a mention here for consistency, creativity and popularity (and they’ve taken it up a notch with their recent Men in Black effort). 

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