Vero and Big’s reliable bovine aviator takes April Glossie honours

Vero’s 1300kg Black Angus bull burst onto the scene in 2003 when Big launched the brand in New Zealand with the memorable TVC ‘Bull in a China Shop‘. Fast forward about nine years and the Hawke’s Bay-based Sensation is still going strong and is one of the most enduring and well-liked mascots in the country, as evidenced by the fact an ad featured in Kia Ora magazine has taken out the April round of The Glossies with 24 percent of the vote, beating Landrover’s double-page spread in NZ Rugby World’s 1st XV with 19 percent and Team Architect’s ad by Glow Consulting in Home magazine with 12 percent.

After the success of the first TV ad, which featured the appropriately titled track ‘L’entrata del toro’ or The Entrance of the Bull, and the second ad from 2007 called ‘Daisy‘, Vero’s marketing and communications manager Ian Walker says most New Zealanders now know the bull is connected to Vero.

But they’re less likely to know exactly what the company does, so the bull has been a great vehicle to get those specific messages across over the years. And yes, it’s still the same bull being used today, although Walker jokes they use photos from his earlier days as he’s a bit wrinklier now.

Given the “unique insurance environment” as a result of the Christchurch earthquakes, Walker says Vero has made a conscious decision to go back to basics and tell consumers about the importance of having insurance—and, more specifically, a rock solid insurance company with plenty of financial backing.

And as for the future of Sensation, “watch this space”, he says.

“We’re working on that now and we think the brand needs to work a little harder,” he says. And, perhaps because of the troubles down south, he hints that the brand might be taken on a different, slightly more serious tack, while still drumming home those key messages about its stability and its various offerings.

Big’s creative director Joe Holden says it’s great to win the award, and it’s probably as much of a victory for the wider campaign as it is for this single execution. He thinks some may say it only won due to help of the Vero staff, but that in itself is an indication of how successful the campaign has been because the people who work at the company and see it more than anyone else still like it after all these years.

Almost like the bovine version of ASB’s Goldstein, he says the agency is “lucky we’ve got something like the bull that we can use time and time again”. And he says the campaign’s longevity can be partially attributed to the fact that unlike, for example, Telecom, Vero isn’t the biggest advertiser and people are less likely to get sick of it because they don’t see it as often.

Holden says the campaign used to be all about bull-related gags and they’ve used plenty of bull puns over the years (he points out the agency does plenty of other non-bull related work for Vero as well). But it has evolved and now, as this aviation-themed ad shows, it’s become slightly less explicit.

  • For those with a nostalgic streak, here’s the brilliant print and outdoor campaign from 2007 and last year’s campaign evolution.

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