Year in Review: Amber Coulter

1. Favourite local campaign that isn’t yours

The Kiwibank ‘Let’s Go’ campaign stood out as a great example of a business using both cultural currents and Kiwi cultural codes effectively in their communications. The best communications today need to make an impact on the culture and environment around them and find their place in the discourse. For me this campaign achieves it – it feels optimistic, distinctively Kiwi and true to the Kiwibank brand. 

2. Favourite campaign that is yours 

Two clients campaigns I worked on where our insights played a pivotal role in the creative were VTNZ’s Road Commander and Lion’s ‘The Dance’. These tie for my favourite this year.

Every time ‘Road Commander’ comes on my kids say “Mum I love this ad” and the humour is just so relevant to Kiwis.

Lion were brave enough to look at Speight’s from a cultural perspective and develop a cultural strategy which applied learnings into developing this creative idea. They understood that modern mateship is very different today and sought to connect regular guys to authentic experiences that create true belonging.

3. Favourite international campaign 

Without a doubt Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ‘Just Do It’ campaign which just knocked it out of the park and achieved the business and share price results.

Again, a clever articulation of a brand finding its place and unique voice in culture, building brand relevance as a result and staying true to its core DNA. Let’s face it, we all want to work at Weiden & Kennedy after that – genius. 

4. Least favourite campaign 

Heineken’s ‘Lighter is Better’. A terribly racist ad in an era where the superdiversity cultural current (moving towards an inclusive society that celebrates everyone, diversity and represents minorities) is dominant. I can only think they skipped the insight stage of the creative development process on that one. 

5. Your own biggest success 

Winning most effective insights agency in the world in Berlin this year is definitely a career highlight.

Big shout out to our client Ross Delaney at Paymark, Shaun Fitzgibbon and the TRA team on ‘The Merchant DNA’. This was a globally ground-breaking segmentation to curate and blend multiple data sources, including Paymark’s own transactional and behavioural data, into something elegantly simple that achieved true ROI.  

6. Most significant launch/innovation/thing of the year 

Paydar, developed in partnership by our TRA Labs innovation function and Paymark, launched this year as a start-up and is my innovation of the year. For the first time retail and hospitality clients are delivered insights on not only their customers and business, but also their competitive performance. 

7. What should be un-invented? 

The idea that CX and brand are different from one another. Customer experience is brand and vice versa; people don’t separate the brand’s identity and promise from the experience they have. 

8. Lamest trend 

Being plugged in all the time. Best antidotes? Headspace and Calm.com. 

9. Best brands 

The Dreamery by Casper. A true brand experience space in NYC where you can book a nap session for $25, wear bespoke pyjamas and listen to soothing music. I just love it. 

Amazon Echo. In 2014 an Echo could only do 14 things, now it can do millions of things and interact with world around it. By the end of this year there will be 135 million voice devices in home. Upcoming features include being able to predict mental health in a person, making emotional recognition tangible. Alexa is soon going to be able to interact with anything around you.

Google Glass and Lens. Virtual Reality is already becoming old hat. The future is AR/mixed reality, the blend between real and artificial offers new opportunities for brands to connect with people. One of the best recent examples I have seen of this is Nike’s SNKRS Stash, giving people the chance to track down exclusive releases that are hidden somewhere throughout your city in what is essentially an artificial store. 

10. Best stoush 

There was a lot of debate in the industry about which agency or company owned Kiwi cultural codes. Let’s just agree we all love understanding New Zealanders and it’s something fundamental to what we all do. 

11. Heroes 

Bob Greenberg R/GA delivering transformation at speed.

5G cognitising the world.

WeWork delivering a new way to live and work.

Joe Sacco – a true storyteller.

John Shanahan and Roger MacDonnell who sit on our board – living legends. 

12. Villains 

Facebook. Thinking you will change the world needs to be underpinned by clear purpose and values.

To some extent data privacy is another villain this year. Humans have always had concerns about data privacy… people thought postcards should be private when they were invented! However, when there is enough value in the data exchange from the customer point of view, people are willing to engage. 

13. What died in 2018? 

The idea that there was ever a world that existed before #MeToo in different industries, and very much including marketing and advertising. 

14. What’s the biggest mistake marketers will make in 2019? 

Forgetting that successful marketing is grounded in both theory and cognitive sciences, rather than gut instinct alone. Marketing theory works because it’s proven. 

15. How far in our future do you think The Handmaid’s Tale is? 

As someone who dressed up in a red cloak and bonnet at our last Christmas party, all I can say is Margaret Atwood is prophetic (she published in 1985!) and in the era of Trump it’s not the future, there’s elements that are there today.

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