Pistols at dusk: TVNZ launches My Kitchen Rules campaign, looks to steal The Block NZ’s thunder

As the campaign promoting MediaWorks’ The Block NZ warms up, TVNZ has launched its campaign for the first local version of My Kitchen Rules (MKR), which will screen in the same 7.30pm primetime slot. And Genesis Energy has been announced as the show’s major sponsor. 

MKR will screen on TV One three times a week (Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday) from August 24, while The Block NZ will screen on TV3 four times a week, on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from August 26. So it’s a case of food porn vs. house porn. And, just as MediaWorks benefitted by focus on the various teams involved, TVNZ is following suit, with its “Bogan Besties, Christchurch Cuties, Polynesian Cooks, Corporate Dads, Modern Day Hippies, Social Media Buddies, Newlyweds, Beauty and the Beast, Fireman and his Flame and the Hawkes Bay Sisters”. 

Genesis Energy, as broadcast partner, is planning an extensive cross channel marketing campaign using the show. Genesis Energy general marketing manager Chris Watney says the company announced its involvement with MKR at the Auckland Food Show at the beginning of August, where it put MKR NZ judges on the stand and had them do a cooking demonstration, and “do a little bit of a celebrity thing”.

He says during the filming, 140 Genesis staff got to be involved in one of the shoots which involved the MKR contestants cooking food for a night market. The staff were the market punters in the episode, and tasted and voted on the best food.

He says there are a few competitions running within the company (Genesis has around 900 staff) to keep on with the MKR theme. Genesis is also making MKR versions of TVCs that support its current monthly pricing offer for power, and its branding and offers are prominent in the voting app. Genesis is also placing MKR-branded material in its shopping centre kiosks for customers to take away with them.

“We are the main ingredient in more than one in four Kiwi kitchens; powering the preparation of hundreds of thousands of meals every day. MKR NZ will be a key element of our customer communications plan across the next few months, one that we are leveraging fully across all channels from above the line into staff engagement,” he says.

MKR will also be sponsored by Countdown, Jetstar, Stevens, Sky City, Fonterra and Holden, a model The Block, MasterChef and some others have successfully used, “seamlessly” integrating sponsors’ content into the show without too much fuss from viewers.

“All our partners are playing an important role in helping to shape this fantastic format into a local story,” says Lyndsey Francis, TVNZ’s general manager of media solutions and insights.

The partners are planning their own campaigns, but TVNZ says they want to keep them under wraps until they happen.

All partners will feature heavily on the show’s website (where ondemand episodes can be accessed), and also in behind-the-scenes video content, show news, contestant profiles, recipes and competitions. Viewers will be able to vote along live with an updated version of the show app, to be in the draw for a year of free power from Genesis and $5,000 worth of groceries from Countdown. With the Australian version of the show, app use is massive, with more than 42,000 unique users casting more than 230,000 votes, with average session times of 12 minutes. The Radio Network will run specially-created content on ZM and The Hits as well as MKR-themed competitions and show spots. iHeartRadio will be presenting the contestants’ personal playlists during the instant restaurant rounds.

Once the Australian season finishes, TVNZ’s MKR Facebook page (with over 75,000 fans) will switch to the local series. 

TVNZ’s in-house creative agency, Blacksand, has already kicked off the campaign, which includes TVCs, some print ads, online components and the below images for placement on billboards, bus sides and mall doors in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

The original Australian version currently reigns as 2014’s most popular series for AP 18-49 (TV2’s target audience) and AP 25-54 (TV One’s demo). Each episode attracts half a million viewers on average (AP5+), and it’s one of TVNZ Ondemand’s most popular shows with almost a million streams recorded this year alone. 

“The show’s massive appeal crosses over from TV to online,” says Francis. “That offers our production partners a fantastic range of programme integration and viewer engagement possibilities to showcase their products and services. It’s a close collaboration. Within the show, partners will feature in cooking challenges—and outside and around the show, they’ll be part of our digital activity and they’ll have their own MKR NZ themed communications.”

So will this be powerful enough to compete with The Block NZ? With that programme, TV3 recorded its highest primetime share in 25-54 since records began in 2005. Last year’s finale had 1,185,300 viewers. And the second season’s 5+ cume reach was 2,948,200 (72 percent), up nearly six percent from the first season’s figure of 2,697,600 (66 percent). According to MediaWorks, an average of 452,200 people tuned in per episode last year, a 14 percent increase. And, given The Great Food Race, one of the shows it was pushing hard at the new season launch, flopped, MediaWorks has got plenty of eggs in The Block NZ basket. 

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