Skip to main content
Back

NZ's top ads: How to make a crowd-pleaser that gets results

Man with tv

In a nutshell

  1. What if the ads most liked by the general public also turned out to be the most effective?
  2. The favourite ads' creative ideas have emerged from listening to the audience, getting to know them and understanding their cultural context so as to produce ads that have a good chance of becoming part of customer conversations going on right now.
  3. They apply timeless principles of creative effectiveness in the execution of those ideas: they're remarkable, rewarding and remembered.

Ads on TV might take a minute or less to play but the stories they tell can become embedded in people’s memory, and in our collective culture for a lifetime.

This is an enticing proposition for brand owners, but some are better than others at pulling it off. That’s why we decided to start tracking and analysing New Zealand’s favourite ads, the ones that stand apart from all the other ads in people’s memory as the ones they like best. What if the ads most liked by the general public also turned out to be the most effective?

In March 2021, we ran another survey of 1000 New Zealanders, asking them, “What’s your favourite ad on TV at the moment?” Here are the top ten most frequently mentioned favourite ads of the moment. Read on to learn why they succeeded in rising above the pack, and how you can apply the learnings to give your next campaign a creative edge.

1. ASB - Ben and Amy

Ben and Amy ASB

ASB launched the ‘Ben and Amy’ campaign in early 2020. Throughout a tumultuous year, ASB has released several executions featuring the Ben and Amy characters. These have continued to provide TV audiences with uplifting entertainment value and nearly twice as many Kiwis mentioned this ASB campaign as their favourite than the next most favourite ad by Sky.

How did ASB identify such a fertile creative territory to begin with?

The first step was data work to identify the audience that represents the biggest commercial opportunity for the bank. Culture and Co-creation followed to identify a creative territory that resonates most strongly with this core audience.

The campaign launched with TV to establish the Ben and Amy characters. ASB has committed to their Ben and Amy characters across multiple touchpoints to promote multiple products. This is a campaign, not just a single ad and by campaigning their well-liked idea, they achieve a cumulative brand effect.

The three R's:

  1. Be remarkable: Ads that are surprisingly different from what other brands and competitors are doing, prompting the audience to say something about it to others, so that the brand gets into customer conversations.
  2. Be rewarding: Reward audiences with entertainment value, and they’ll be more inclined to value your brand in return.
  3. Be remembered: know your brand codes, and weave them through your executions. The strongest advertisers in the list commit to their ad idea and carry through characters, taglines and other memorable elements across all other touchpoints beyond TV.

How did ASB gain a creative edge?

REMARKABLE 
The story of Big Ben hits a cultural sweet spot that allows ASB to join an existing conversation about a new generation of first-home buyers. By understanding the cultural context surrounding banking right now, they have successfully navigated a conversation fraught with tension and landed a story that is worth talking about because it’s so relatable.

REWARDING Great acting talent, a catchy soundtrack, smile-inducing Kiwi humour, and a storyline about earned success that leaves the audience feeling inspired.

REMEMBERED Plenty of brand codes are woven into each execution. Lots of yellow and references to Kashin the elephant, and a new twist on the timeless line ‘one step ahead’. Over time, the Ben and Amy characters are becoming brand codes for ASB too.

But did it work?

Being a favourite might sound like a nice fluffy non-result, but we typically find that favourite ads also yield particularly strong results for brands, and ASB is no exception. Tracking shows a very positive effect across all their brand metrics since the launch of this campaign.

2. Sky Sport - Life needs more sport

123

Identifying this as a favourite ad soon after it launched in 2019 has justified continued air time for a second summer run. Sky has also leveraged the now-famous boy’s face across other advertising touchpoints to re-trigger memories of this favourite TV ad.

How did Sky gain a creative edge?

REMARKABLE Familiar and timeless Kiwi summer moment with a surprising ‘Life Needs More Sport’ twist prompts audiences to say out loud. “Did you see that!?”

REWARDING Great acting talent, a catchy song, humour and heart-warming relatability. The ad aligns with several Kiwi cultural codes which adds to its likeability.

REMEMBERED The boy’s face, the sports commentary over-familiar Kiwi scenarios and the line ‘Life Needs More Sport’ will become Sky Sport brand codes over time.

Did it work?

As Sky Sport fends off new sport streaming rivals, it’s crucial for the brand to maintain relevance and stay in conversations among sports fans. Two Effie awards in 2020 indicate that the campaign is also getting business results.

3. PAK'nSAVE - Stickman

123

Where Sky Sport are still only into the first two years of establishing their ‘Life Needs More Sport’ brand platform, PAK'nSAVE has been at it for 13 years, and is the ultimate example of being ‘consistently surprising’ in the NZ ad landscape.

How did PAK'nSAVE gain a creative edge?

REMARKABLE Contrasted to all the other ads in the break, the bold yellow and black colours stand out and get attention. Stickman’s funny dialogue is parrotable – people quote his jokes to each other, mimicking his distinctive voice, getting Pak n’ Save into customer conversations.

REWARDING Audiences have come to expect a laugh and a smile when they see black and yellow fill their screens. This keeps them watching and attaches positive emotions to Pak n’ Save in their memory.

REMEMBERED Black and yellow, the Stickman character, his distinctive voice; these are all well-established brand codes that make each and every ad instantly recognisable as Pak n’ Save. This means the campaign has a cumulative effect.

Did it work?

You bet it did. The stickman campaign was recognised for its sustained success and received the Grand Effie top prize for effectiveness in 2019.

4. Electric Kiwi - Song Ban

123

Anecdotally, this has been a polarising campaign – some people love it, and others can’t stand it. But as a challenger brand, polarising is a great strategy to get the Electric Kiwi brand disproportionately talked about. More people have named this their favourite ad than many other bigger budget ads out there right now.

​​​​​​How did Electric Kiwi gain a creative edge?

REMARKABLE The earworm song with humorous lyrics is sure to have Kiwis humming it long after the TV is switched off. The fact that they’ve boldly owned the fact that some people hate the song is a surprising thing for a brand to do, and would have caused some couch conversations among households divided on it.

REWARDING Among those who like it, it’s a feel-good ad that leaves people feeling happy and upbeat.

REMEMBERED It’s hard to mistake this campaign for any other brand when ‘Electric Kiwi’ is sung throughout. The familiar faces that appear across several executions also help people recognise and remember that they’re watching an Electric Kiwi ad.

Did it work?

In 2020 Electric Kiwi was awarded Consumer magazine’s People’s Choice award, and for a number of years has been recognised as New Zealand’s fastest growing power company.

5. TrustPower – Lost and Found

123

TrustPower has really leaned into best-practice theory on the power of emotional storytelling. They even used neuro-research techniques to optimise emotional response at the concept stage, and with the final edit of this new TVC.

How did TrustPower gain a creative edge?

REMARKABLE The mini-movie style of this ad is likely to have prompted a few conversations between couples on couches (couples who make up a large proportion of purchase decision-makers for utilities).

REWARDING a heart-warming story, good acting, and a catchy soundtrack.

REMEMBERED to look closely and you’ll see that the opening shot is full of flowers in the TrustPower brand colours. The main characters’ clothes also feature Trust Power purple and green. The third brand colour is orangey/yellow. Is that why they cast two red-heads?

Did it work?

Early days for this campaign, so we’ll have to keep an eye on business results. One area that may hold back results for this campaign is that the TrustPower characters don’t seem to feature anywhere but TV – a missed opportunity for a favourite ad idea. By contrast, ASB’s website has photography of Ben and Amy throughout all their advertising, in branches, and on the landing page of their website. Perhaps this is the next part of TrustPower’s campaign rollout?

And rounding out the top ten favourite ads:

6. Mercury, ‘Kiss Oil Goodbye’ – timelessly leveraging the power of surprise with a clever reframing of electricity in a very timely way as electric vehicles are going mainstream in New Zealand. Not to mention a catchy song, amusingly sung in Kiwi ac- cents. Social media metrics indicate strong engagement and lots of positive conversations about this campaign.

7. KFC is interesting in that their ads tend to be 15 second product and price promos rather than 60 second brand ads. But lots of Kiwis out there love these micro-comedies from KFC. By leveraging their brand codes such as the red and white striped bucket, fried chicken, consistent music and of course, The Colonel, these ads have a cumulative positive effect on brand building.

8. Lotto’s ‘Lost Ticket’ shot to the top of our favourite ads list when it first launched, and knowing they were onto a winner, they’ve given it continued bursts of air time to keep it, and their brand, top of mind. The Lost Ticket ad won gold at the 2020 Effies.

9. Nova, and their Greg Grover character have unashamedly bashed audiences over the head with their brand name, but in an entertaining and rhymingly memorable way. If you think these ads are annoying, remember that they’re also the favourite of many other New Zealanders.

10. AA Insurance’s ‘Live a Little Freer’ campaign has had a steady presence in our favourite ads tracking. A memorable soundtrack over entertaining and relatable household accident moments has kept audiences smiling and kept AA top of mind.

What have we learned?

If we take a look at this list, we see that New Zealand’s favourite ads aren’t necessarily defined by big-budget production or by a particular style of storytelling. There are two things they all have in common. Firstly, timely ideas. The creative ideas have emerged from listening to the audience, getting to know them and understanding their cultural context so as to produce ads that have a good chance of becoming part of customer conversations going on right now. Secondly, they apply timeless principles of creative effectiveness in the execution of those timely ideas:

 • Be remarkable: Ads that are surprisingly different from what other brands and competitors are doing, prompting the audience to say something about it to others, so that the brand gets into customer conversations.

 • Be rewarding: Reward audiences with entertainment value, and they’ll be more inclined to value your brand in return.

 • Be remembered: Know your brand codes, and weave them through your executions. The strongest advertisers in the list commit to their ad idea and carry through characters, taglines and other memorable elements across all other touchpoints beyond TV.

At TRA, we have developed methodologies to help you understand the cultural context your audience lives in, and distil that into clear direction you can use to brief your creative agency. We have also developed a new framework called Creative Edge that can be used not only to track the effectiveness of your campaigns once they’re in market, but also to develop and strengthen advertising concepts while they’re still on the drawing board, so you can  get your brand persuasively into customer conversations.

Subscribe to Frame

This article was originally published in our tenth issue of Frame magazine. To request a copy, complete this form.

 

Carl Sarney
Head of Strategy

Find out how TRA can help you find your purpose

back to top

Discover more content

Stay in touch!

Sign up to receive our latest thinking straight to your inbox each month.