TVNZ plays up rivalry with Aussies for The Amazing Race and enjoys ratings success with Resurrection

Over the course of the last few weeks, TVNZ has been riling up support of the Kiwi masses via a serious of humorous TVCs in anticipation of the cross-Tasman battle that will soon see team from New Zealand take on Australia in the latest rendering of The Amazing Race

The first of the pair of TVCs was released mid June and depicted Millen Baird giving the Kiwi competitors a sports movie-inspired motivational speech on how our neighbours across the ditch are a group of dirty, smelly, lying cheaters. The theme of this spot was then carried across to the next spot that seems as though it was taken out of The Hunger Games.    


The competitive banter is also being used across the ditch, where Channel 7 has launched a series of spots that also draw on the rivalry between the two nations. And while results for the actual race are still unknown, it seems that the Kiwis have won the advertising creativity challenge.   

This is the first season of the syndicated show to have an equal contingent of Kiwi and Australian competitors, and this has necessitated collaboration between the broadcasters on both sides of the Tasman.

Despite the rivalry on show in the commercials, TV2’s marketing manager Chris Hooper says that the two teams have enjoyed working together thus far. 

“The marketing teams from both broadcasters have had to approach the project in a way that’s right for our respective markets but they’ve definitely been quite cheeky as well (dubbing sheep noises over our contestants springs to mind) but it’s all in good fun and we’ve enjoyed sharing the different elements of the campaign with them,” says Hooper.

In addition to the television campaign, TVNZ Blacksand is also orchestrating an experiential marketing campaign next week, which will see shoppers in New Zealand take on those across the ditch at an interactive game of tug of war. 

The Kiwi-based installation, featuring a rope electronically connected to a large screen, will be hosted by Auckland’s Sylvia Park, while the second will be set up at a Westfield shopping mall in Australia. 

“Both sides of the trans-Tasman tug of war will be decked out in the campaign design for each territory so it feels like a great way to bring to life the rivalry across the ditch and connect the two campaigns tangibly,” says Hooper. “We’re particularly excited about the Shorty vs Home and Away battle that Kiwis will be able to follow on a live stream.”

Hooper attributes the New Zealand campaign and the tug of war activation to creative teams at TVNZ Blacksand and TVNZ marketing, but adds that Channel 7 was a “crucial partner” throughout the process. 

This isn’t the first time that TVNZ Blacksand has used a shopping mall to host an experiential activation to promote programming. In early June, the creative arm of TVNZ’s promotional team also arranged a series of ad-hoc carnivals to promote the then-upcoming World Cup.   

In an effort to further extend the reach of the promotional message, TVNZ Blacksand is also collaborating with TRN’s ZM radio brand.

On 10 July, the promotional team arranged a mini version of The Amazing Race, which saw five teams—Carl Fletcher and Vaughan Smith (ZM); Megan Sellers (ZM) and Leigh Hart; Siobhan Marshall (Shortland Street) and Matt McLean (News); Carly Saunders and Tresne Middleton (MKR); and Pua Magasiva and KJ Apa (Shortland Street)—competing against each other around Auckland. 

The event was filmed by Blacksand and will be released as a 45-minute webisode on 21 July, and Hooper says that he is excited about the quality of the content that has emerged from the collaboration with the radio network. 

“TRN are a really important partner for us as they offer us the opportunity to integrate our content across other key media outside of our own TV and digital offerings,” says Hooper. “The team at TRN are really enthusiastic about collaborating on engaging ideas that will excite both our audiences; Fletch Vaughan and Megan’s Amazing Race is the perfect example of how we can work together to create brilliant content.”

Hooper says that TVNZ’s decision to collaborate across the traditional channel divisions is attributable to the changing media landscape.

“We know our audiences are accessing content on more screens than ever before,” he says. “But we also know some fundamental things haven’t changed – audiences will always gravitate in big numbers towards great content and want to talk about the things they love with their wider network of colleagues, friends and family: we just do it instantly now across our social networks.”

These sentiments are mirrored by TRN’s chief content officer Dean Buchanan, who in June said that modern radio personalities are no longer confined to the darkness of radio.

“Gone are the days of a face for radio,” he said. “The radio stars of today are very much multimedia. They look great on TV, they’re great in print, they’re strong on social media, fabulous at events … and by the way, they’re entertaining on radio.”

He also said that TRN’s decision to extend ZM onto TV was part of a broader scheme to extend ZM beyond the radio channel.   

“We set out at the beginning of this year to totally turn [ZM] into a multimedia brand. We added Fletch, Vaughan and Megan at breakfast, we invested in the new multimedia studio that allows us live stream and do video … and add on to that what ZM is doing on Twitter, Snapchat and at events, and it’s clear that this is just another distribution channel.”

And TRN’s journey is set to continue later this year, with Hooper confirming that they are currently in talks to collaborate on another project in the near future.  

“We value our partnership with TRN and have some really exciting things planned for the MKR NZ campaign that involves integrating a number of TRN brands with what will be one of the most talked about shows this year,” says the TV2 marketing manager.

StopPress asked Hooper about the commercial nature of the cross-collaborative agreement with TRN, but he declined to comment, citing commercial sensitivity.

While TVNZ wouldn’t divulge the costs involved with the fully integrated, multifaceted campaign for The Amazing Race, a project of such scale certainly wouldn’t have been cheap. And for this reason, TVNZ tends to be selective when it comes to giving a show the full-service treatment. 

In the case of The Amazing Race, Hooper says that the introduction of the local aspect when combined with the success of previous seasons gave the team confidence that the show would do well.   

The Amazing Race Australia has always performed really well for TV2, and having the chance to inject a Kiwi presence into the show was an opportunity too good to pass up,” he says. 

“New Zealanders are travellers by nature so something about the show really appeals to the Kiwi free spirit, and having this added Aussie vs NZ rivalry really speaks to local audiences who love to get one over on the Aussies … Given those factors, it felt like the perfect chance to bring to life the playful TV2 brand – we’re always looking at ways we can deeply engage our audience with our great content across different platforms.” 

TVNZ Blacksand previously developed an elaborate campaign for Shortland Street, and Hooper says that results showed that effort put into the project paid off.     

“The Shortland Street hiatus promotion had three million page views of the clues teasing out the dramatic cliff-hanger storyline, 6.8 million Facebook impressions of that content on Facebook, and 107,000 likes comments and shares,” he says. It continued the storyline on digital platforms turning it into a national talking point and gave us the opportunity to integrate the show sponsor Holden into the campaign in a natural way (fans had to search a Trax for a hidden clue). The premiere episode of 2014 ended up being the highest rating launch episode since 2001.”

On the topic of successful show launches, TVNZ recently also received good news when it came to the premiere of the first episode of its new show, Resurrection

According to Nielsen’s overnight stats, the first episode’s 14.3 rating in the target demographic of those aged between 18 and 49 was the highest in five years. Until then, the highest rating for a premiere of a new show was 14.2, a figure that was tallied when TV2 launched V in 2009.

The first two episodes of Resurrection have attracted an average audience of over 450,000 viewers so far, and Hooper attributes this early success to promotional work that Blacksand did in the lead up to the show.

“The promo campaign was really powerful,” he says. “It was deeply emotive and struck a chord with the audience.”

He also says that they made the decision to launch the first two episodes on consecutive nights off the back of the success of My Kitchen Rules. The the remaining six episodes in the season will be screened on Thursday nights on TV2.

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