TVNZ and Contagion mix it up for My Kitchen Rules campaign

TVNZ is currently revelling in some massive numbers for New Zealand’s Got Talent, which went from an average 5+ audience of 935,000 in its first episode to 975,000 last night. It’s got another ratings tiger by the tail with My Kitchen Rules on TV2 and, in an effort to emphasise that it is less like a simple cooking programme and more like a character-driven, drama-filled reality show, it developed a campaign in conjunction with Contagion based around the idea that ‘Some things don’t mix’. 

TV2 marketing manager Aimee Glucina says combining the pressure of the kitchen with some sizeable egos is a recipe for drama—and humour—and this was expressed in a three-stage campaign that teased the series on air, and then increased awareness via radio ads, online banners, in-depth character promos on air, and portrait eyelites in malls and food court tables. This was then supported with a broadcast appointment-to-view push on radio, TV and online.


TVNZ used the hosts, as well as Simon and Meg, the first Kiwi team to feature in the show, to film promo material and some bespoke on-screen pop-ups, plus extra video content that could be used on its social sites.

“We took the look and feel of the campaign across the whole channel, from crafted break-titles, themed menus and specially designed pop-ups,” Glucina says. “This extended onto the website and TV2’s social media pages.”

As smartphones become more common in New Zealand, so too does ‘second screening’, particularly when it comes to big reality shows. Social media currency has helped give live TV a fillip and TVNZ referenced that trend by creating a smartphone app for Android and iPhones, which was developed by Contagion and gives viewers a voice at the table by asking them to score that night’s cooking team alongside the other contestants. Taking part enters them into a draw for $1000 worth of kitchen equipment (and daily spot prizes of signed cookbooks from the show’s hosts) and New Zealand’s score is then broadcast on screen. As the competition moves into the latter stages, viewers are now being asked who they want to be eliminated, which is also shown on screen.

“For an Australian show that aired over the ditch months ago, we had to make the show feel live and local. The MKR App meant it was like us Kiwis were right there at the table judging the food,” says Bridget Taylor, Contagion’s creative director. And social influence director Tom Bates said: “MKR came with the business challenge of getting people to tune in to 37 episodes. The solution needed to ensure our idea worked across many new media touchpoints to stay relevant. We focused on the relationship between the ‘on air’ and the ‘second screen’ app and by letting people judge the food and the characters we created an engaging conversation. This meant the 22,000 people who downloaded the app shared their advocacy for MKR into their news feeds on a nightly basis.”

So far the campaign has paid dividends, with 12,494 followers on MKRNZ Facebook page; 22,000 downloads of the MKR smartphone app (approximately half of these driven by online advertising banners); nearly 9000 page impressions on the MKR recipes page on tvnz.co.nz; Ondemand streams averaging around 25,000 per week (around twice as many per week as 2011); average rating/share of 15.5/36 percent (compared to 13.5/31.4 percent in 2011); and the most watched episode—the Kiwis’ second chance restaurant—rating a very big 20.8 with a 48 percent share (compared to the highest rating episode in 2011 which was a 16.9/37.7 percent).

“Importantly all of these results are still to date, and should only get better as the show progresses with our Kiwi team involved,” Glucina says. 

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