The Year in Review: Dave Walden

It’s that time of year again, the time when we’re so busy dreaming of sausages and sauvignon that, rather than write anything ourselves, we rope in some of the industry’s most vigorous cutters and dastardly thrusters to give us their $0.02 on the goods, bads and uglies of 2011. First up, TBWA\Tequila’s chief raconteur Dave Walden, whose agency has bounced back from a fairly tough ASB-related 2010 after getting its mitts on the ANZ and Tourism New Zealand accounts. 

1) Favourite campaign that isn’t yours: Youtube VideoSteinlager Believe. This was a classy campaign amongst a sea of Rugby World Cup dross. The fact that Steinlager wasn’t an official sponsor, and was up against the might of Heineken and all of the global weight being involved with RWC, Steinlager managed to tap into Kiwis’ residual affection for the brand. Bringing back the white can for people my age that could remember it was a stroke of genius. And their simple, empathetic, intelligent billboards made you feel good about being a Kiwi. They made you feel that your local beer was behind your team and did it in a way that didn’t ever transgress the tight official sponsorship regulations. Nicely art directed, well thought out and a classic case of less is more.

2) Favourite campaign that is yours: Youtube Video

Youtube Video2degrees. It’s easy to be the new kid on the block and a challenger brand in year one. When it’s your second year and you have to continue to reinforce the attitude and you’ve tweaked the other bigger, richer competitors you have to be on your game. 2degrees has managed to build the brand and the affection with Kiwis by not only using Rhys Darby intelligently (but not over using him) but also to create a second tier communication using animation which has graphically shown the better value and better deal you get from 2degrees. It’s a textbook case of integration and growth without losing the attitude and edge.

3) Least favourite campaign: Telecom’s Abstain Campaign. The pink fist was a dopey idea, badly executed and God knows how Fitzy allowed himself to get talked into it. I have to take some personal responsibility for putting the boot into it on Close Up but all I was doing was echoing the nation’s thoughts, which was that The All Blacks and sex are two parts of Kiwi life that no marketer should link and certainly not approach in a clumsy ham-fisted manner. However, full marks to Telecom for pulling it so quickly.

4) Best brand: Apple. Again it’s a TBWA\ brand but it is the classic example of a brand that continues to be true to itself and to present itself in a consistent, coherent manner. It is the very best example of classic product, demonstrated stylishly, executed in an engaging and entertaining manner. Steve Jobs’ death just underlined to us all what one individual can do in a company that clearly understands what they’re up to.

5) Best stoush: This hasn’t been a vintage year for squabbles between brands and publishers or the like so I guess my best stoush would be the media vs. John Key in cuppa-gate. This was the literal ‘storm in a teacup’ and the fact that it absorbed the media for so long was incredulous and the way in which it developed was intriguing.

6) Heroes: Youtube VideoIn a corporate sense I think Rob Fyfe at Air New Zealand deserves to be seen as a hero because he has embraced creative thinking within an organisation. I’m not quite sure if it’s a comfortable relationship for agencies and partners but it has produced some remarkable pieces of communication which have totally changed our perceptions of Air New Zealand as being a fairly dull and predictable corporate to being interesting and at-times unexpected. The creative thinking that has gone into in-flight videos that have really pushed the envelope etc has been great to see.

7) Villains: The IRB for being dictatorial and very arrogant regarding signs in the crowd that the cameras were allowed to pick up, through to the issues regarding the OPRO mouth guard that the Samoan player, Alesana Tuilangi, was using where they fined him $10,000. And that’s just the start. Over the period of the tournament the IRB certainly didn’t cover themselves in glory.

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