Gray Matters: life, diversity, leadership and sky

  • Voices
  • November 30, 2018
  • Graham Medcalf
Gray Matters: life, diversity, leadership and sky

The Demeaning of Life

In an article in The Spectator last week, Dan Hitchens asked the question: “When did advertising become so banal?” His contention, in reference to the proclivity for advertisers to use empty phrases, was that “the more starry-eyed the slogan, the bleaker the reality it conceals”. His objection to meaning-of-life advertising is that it’s so trite.

Hitchens gave the examples of Heineken campaigning for ‘an open world’, where people listen to each other and realise ‘that there is more that unites us than divides us’. As he reminds us, “successful slogans of the 20th century tended to be pragmatic, catchy or flattering. Now, advertising tries to address the meaning of life”.

New Zealand advertising has not entirely escaped these clichéd aphorisms. AIG are promoting #diversity is strength in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup in Japan; and Trade Me employees talk about acts of kindness done by its members for World Kindness Day. But in general, we appear to still see the value in being proud of the intrinsic value of the brands we promote.

I for one love the new Colorsteel Ad by DDB, which proudly states: “For a home you can be proud of” – no meaning-of-life crap, just straight to the point in a funny and relatable ad about wanting to impress and feel proud of the home we live in.

There’s been enough said about the flurry of publicity over brands attaching themselves to social issues. With any luck we’ll avoid the platitudes and be confident in our ability to convince the Kiwi consumer of the values of our brands instead of virtue signalling our way to the checkout.

There is, of course, a counter argument, and to give value to those creative directors who might be tempted to take umbrage at my contention, I will quote author David Foster Wallace from his famous aquatic-themed graduation speech, This is Water:

“In the day to day trenches of adult existence, platitudes can have a life or death importance. Tell your audiences that they’re too smart to want a certain thing and give it to them anyway. Remind everyone that they’re too hip for corny dad sermonizing and then double down on the corny dad sermonizing.”

After all, “the insight we lack has been here all along! Just hiding inside our clichés”.

However, like Hitchens, I believe that: “the more starry-eyed the slogan, the bleaker the reality it conceals.” As he says, “the simplest objection to meaning-of-life advertising is that it strains to be poetic, but it bears the same relation to poetry as concrete carbuncles do to architecture. And like bad architecture, you can’t escape it”.

Diversity

Talking about virtue signalling, and as reported earlier this year in StopPress, the Commercial Communications Council has issued an Inclusiveness and Diversity Policy for use in member agencies. “Advertising is an industry built on creating transformative ideas for businesses, so it is important to strive for diversity in thinking to keep on the forefront of innovation and creativity,” says inclusiveness and diversity group chair, Megan Clark.

Now I’m all for “diversity in thinking”, as the policy states, but does that relate to being “representative of the population” in the “talent pool development”?

Earlier this year, Andrea Keirn, managing director of Black Rhino Marketing Group, wrote in Forbesabout there being more voices demanding more inclusion in the marketing and advertising industry. This came on the back of a 2016New York Times article claiming that big brands were noticing the diversity paradox and wanted ad agencies to do something about it.

The claim by Sapna Maheshwari under the heading Brands to Ad Agencies: Diversify or Else was that the “advertising industry has tried for decades with little success to shed its ‘Mad Men’-like reputation as a profession dominated by white men. Now, some of the world’s biggest brands are viewing that lack of diversity as a liability.”

Is this the case in New Zealand? The Commercial Communications Council initiative was apparently based on a report, by Deloitte Access Economics, which highlighted a lack of diversity within the advertising industry, so Comms Council CEO Paul Head may not be merely keeping up with the modern-day practice of virtue signalling and jumping on the band wagon.

Perhaps he also read Andrea Keirn’s plea when she urged action: “As leaders in the industry, it’s time for us to stand up, speak out and do more than just “spin” our responses to sound like the right thing to do -- we need to actually do it.”

Keirn believes: “No matter how hard you may try, or how much market research you do, it is impossible for an agency full of white males to create authentic work that appeals to the greater audience.”

Do StopPress readers believe this to be the case in New Zealand? We’d be keen to hear your views.

Leadership required

Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Trends Study backs up the call for more inclusion, saying: “Addressing and improving gender imbalance in the organisation has proven an intractable problem. Organisations have been at this for years yet are still decades away from realising the full potential of the female workforce.”

The problem, as one attendee at the Femmepire Summit in October, Alenka Ashley, reported, it appears that women in general tend to “experience the ‘imposter syndrome’. It’s doubting yourself and believing that you’re an incompetent failure when your achievements would suggest otherwise.”

The main conclusion from the Mercer study, however, is a claim that although AI and robotics are shaping the future of work, only people can unlock the value of technology. The Mercer study calls for organisations to be agile, while bringing their people along on the journey.

To me, this sounds like a pre-requisite for success in advertising and marketing. Although New Zealand was not included in the study, Australia was, and there the most important aspect to thriving at work was having leaders who set a clear direction. Perhaps there are some women out there who can fill this leadership void.

As reported in Stuff, according to Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends report, which surveyed more than 7000 human resources and business leaders from 130 countries, leadership was the second biggest issue affecting organisations, including in New Zealand.

This could be a problem in the New Zealand advertising industry, which is worrying at a time when ANZA is reporting that a recent WFA study has found that three quarters of major multinationals are rethinking their current agency arrangements, with many addressing whether their current partners have the right capabilities for their needs.

“In response to their apparent dissatisfaction with agencies, many brands are moving towards an in-house model, feeling the pressure of ad budgets, while consultancies swoop in to take high-margin experience technology services.”

Sky’s the limit

With the announcement this week that Sky TV has appointed Martin Stewart as its new CEO, following John Fellet’s impending retirement, let’s hope Sky TV will take a quantum leap into the present. Stewart has already talked about transforming Sky from a traditional television broadcaster into a multi-platform entertainment business.

With a reported a $240.7 million loss in the year to June 2018, something radical has to happen if the steady decline of subscribers is going to be contained. The loss of the Rugby World Cup Rights to Spark and TVNZ is a portent of future disaster as new competitors with new platforms disrupt the broadcast business.

Live sport has been the main differentiator for Sky and a reliable generator of support from a subscriber base that has for too long suspected that it is being fleeced. Movies are available from almost anywhere in the current environment, so the loss of sports contracts is a killer blow.  

TV broadcasters are already investing in hybrid TV (combining TV broadcasting signals with the internet) and multi-screen business opportunities. In the UK, Sky launched Sky Q in 2016, considered the ultimate home entertainment platform by the respected TechRadar website.

Sky Q is a “TV platform and ecosystem that sends live and recorded content around rooms and across your mobile devices. It brings with it multi-room streaming, high-resolution 4K content, an extensive on-demand library, and an interface that's a pleasure to use,” writes Marc Chacksfield, Patrick Goss and Henry St Leger on TechRadar. As we approach 2019, Sky TV still hasn’t brought this to New Zealand, so it’s hoped that Stewart will release the brake Fellet has had his rather big foot on and put his own on the accelerator.

There is no doubt content is still king, but price, technology and consumer demands are imperative bedfellows.

Afterthought

Reading on Stuff that Vodafone admits misleading customers over broadband options, pleading guilty to nine charges under the Fair Trading Act, got me thinking about whether this will have any effect on the brand at all. Do consumers really care? Certainly, the Advertising Standards Authority didn’t think so, ruling that Vodafone's FibreX advertising was not misleading.

An article in AdAge which ranks brand controversies by the amount of consumer damage claims consumers are far more likely to punish companies for lying than anything else. “Misleading the public for profit is the worst kind of scandal,” according to the AdAge report. It remains to be seen whether the charges brought by the Commerce Commission will be seen in that light by Vodafone customers.

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

Build on the basics: translating great ideas into effective digital billboards
Sponsored content

Build on the basics: translating great ideas into effective digital billboards

Lumo gives a few design tips and tech-led techniques for creatives on how to stand out, increase engagement and communicate brand values when using digital out-of-home.

Safety First: where are advertising dollars going – part one
news

Safety First: where are advertising dollars going – part one

Following the Christchurch terror attack on 15 March, the Association of New Zealand Publishers and the Commercial Communications Council called on the advertising and media industry to think about where advertising dollars were going, and to put pressure on Facebook regarding its live-streaming capabilities. With the heat on social media platforms, Georgina Harris spoke with local media organisations about moves taken in light of the tragedy, how they ensure a safe environment for advertisers, and how they are tackling the changing industry head-on.

Gallery: talented TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards winners

  • Gallery
  • September 17, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Gallery: talented TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards winners

Last week, DB Breweries was crowned the Supreme Award winners of the TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards, while Jo Mitchell from McDonald’s New Zealand was celebrating her Marketer of the Year win and Philip Poole was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame. Check out all the glorious winners moments here.

Read more
topics
Story IQ
Story IQ
Story IQ is a brand story consultancy. We help brands uncover the hidden, untold stories ...
Up-and-Comers
Up-and-Comers
We give the mic to the industry's future leaders to hear their thoughts on media, ...
Insight Creative
Insight Creative
Insight Creative specialises in shaping business stories out the core insights that often lie under ...
The Stoppies 2018
The Stoppies 2018
In February (Valentine's Day to be exact), StopPress gathered the industry for an evening of ...
Follow The Money
Follow The Money
Follow the money. It’s an axiom that journalists have believed in for years and a ...
Regional Rundown
Regional Rundown
StopPress takes a trip down the country to see who the audiences and agencies are ...
Beyond the Page 2018
Beyond the Page 2018
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Beneath the Surface
Beneath the Surface
In this series, brought to you by Microsoft, we talk to a conceptual photographer, illustrator ...
20/20 (tele)vision
20/20 (tele)vision
Media consumption is changing. But by how much?
The Hot List
The Hot List
Our rundown of the hottest shows, brands and creators in New Zealand media. 1. magazine ...
Cannes Lions 2017
Cannes Lions 2017
All the winners, the shortlists and the drama from this year's edition of advertising biggest ...
Merger Mania
Merger Mania
All our stories on the nation's two failed mergers in one place
Bauer Beyond the Page
Bauer Beyond the Page
When it comes to creating branded content, there are few better in the Kiwi market ...
The Indies
The Indies
Over the course of this series of articles, we look at how always-nimble indy agencies ...
AdRoll on automation
AdRoll on automation
Marketing automation is tipped to eventually become the only way advertising is traded in the ...
Game Changers
Game Changers
It’s all about PEOPLE. Join us as we discuss global insights, ideas and innovations from ...
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
Celebrating all the winners of the 2015 TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards.
Future Tense
Future Tense
In a new series, StopPress talks to a range of newsmakers currently trying to shine ...
Beyond the Page
Beyond the Page
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Up Country
Up Country
In conjunction with News Works, the Up Country series talks with some of New Zealand's ...
Sounding off
Sounding off
As part of a content partnership with MediaWorks, we've asked a few of the company's ...
StopPress Podcasts
StopPress Podcasts
We sit down for a chat with industry leaders to find out what they're up ...

Recharging the batteries: Aaron McMinn on side hustles as an outlet for creativity

  • Advertising
  • September 17, 2019
  • Erin McKenzie
Recharging the batteries: Aaron McMinn on side hustles as an outlet for creativity

Aaron McMinn grew up exploring visual mediums and turned that passion into a job when he entered agency land. Today, he’s a creative director at Wunderman Thompson but not all his creative pursuits are for clients. Some are for himself. Erin McKenzie talks to McMinn about his extra-curricular projects and how they’re benefiting and his client work and agency.

Read more

IABNZ sees consistent growth in advertising revenue for H1

  • Advertising
  • September 17, 2019
  • StopPress Team
IABNZ sees consistent growth in advertising revenue for H1

IABNZ has released its H1 results, posting an advertising revenue growth of almost 13 percent. This growth is consistent with the second quarter of this year and the same time in 2018, reaching the same 12.7 percent in advertising revenue for the year-on-year basis.

Read more
voices

Social scoreboard

Zavy and StopPress have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

Ads of the week: 17 September

  • TVC of the week
  • September 17, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Ads of the week: 17 September

Snaps all around for Powershop, Vodafone and Warmer Kiwi Homes.

Read more
An independent spirit: Time Out Bookstore on community, loyalty and cats
features

An independent spirit: Time Out Bookstore on community, loyalty and cats

Time Out Bookstore’s manager Jenna Todd was a speaker at the Magazine Publishers Association’s 2019 magazine conference ‘Thinking Forward’ held in July. StopPress visited Todd at the store and discussed similarities between independent bookstores and magazines, engaging with the local community and selling socks.

Andrew Reinholds joins Stanley St as head of media

  • Media
  • September 17, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Andrew Reinholds joins Stanley St as head of media

Stanley St has welcomed Andrew Reinholds to its senior leadership team as head of media. In the role, Reinholds will be building on an already enviable media offering, honed by former incumbent Rachel Cormack.

Read more

How is this still a thing? The simple excitement of inflatable advertising

  • Advertising
  • September 16, 2019
  • Courtney Devereux
How is this still a thing? The simple excitement of inflatable advertising

Our advertising landscape continues to rotate around the growth of digital and how digital can be used to further capture the attention of viewers. Yet there is one type of adverting so simple, so primal, so no-nonsense that even in this computer-run society it has survived. We’re talking here about inflatable, or balloon, advertising.

Read more

Powershop personifies power in a romantic campaign

  • Advertising
  • September 16, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Powershop personifies power in a romantic campaign

In a new brand campaign, by EightyOne, Powershop is shining a light on the relationship consumers have with their electricity through a young woman and a big pink blob.

Read more

Vodafone welcomes 5G with a surprising emotional rollercoaster

  • Advertising
  • September 16, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Vodafone welcomes 5G with a surprising emotional rollercoaster

Get out the tissues. Vodafone is celebrating the possibilities of 5G in a beautiful campaign by DDB dubbed ‘Huxley’.

Read more
Neuroscience sheds light on media effectiveness
Sponsored content

Neuroscience sheds light on media effectiveness

An intriguing new body of research, which records how media impacts brain activity, has provided new insights into the best ways to structure advertising campaigns across multiple channels.

DB Breweries wins Supreme Award at TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards

  • Awards
  • September 13, 2019
  • StopPress Team
DB Breweries wins Supreme Award at TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards

DB Breweries has taken out the Supreme Award at this year’s TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards for their ‘Reviving a Legend - Tui's Stepchange Into RTDs’ marketing initiative. Meanwhile, Jo Mitchell from McDonald’s New Zealand was celebrating her Marketer of the Year win and Philip Poole was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

Read more
2019 Winners
news

2019 Winners

These companies showed us how they put their tools to use and have been crowned winners at the 2018 TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards.

Commercial radio survey: The Edge holds strong at top spot

  • Media
  • September 12, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Commercial radio survey: The Edge holds strong at top spot

The results of the third GfK Radio Survey for 2019 are out and The Edge is holding strong in top position for commercial stations, with a weekly cumulative reach of 590,800 listeners. These listeners contribute to the 3.3 million New Zealanders who listen to commercial radio in their everyday lives.

Read more
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About

StopPress provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2019 ICG Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise

Contact Vernene Medcalf at +64 21 628 200 to advertise in StopPress.

View Media Kit