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How the Kiwi Code of Earned Success can motivate us to change our behaviour.

picture of man's dirty hands

Historically in New Zealand, our ‘Number 8 wire’ attitude of cobbling together, making do, and ‘she’ll be right’ was essential and admired. That was in a time when we were far away from the rest of the world and its resources.

In a nutshell

  1. In today’s globalized world, New Zealanders recognize that we’re increasingly capable of doing things better than the rest of the world.
  2. Most Kiwis still feel obliged to show they are pulling their weight, and not taking more than their fair share. 
  3. The Earned Success code recognises that Kiwis are now more willing to celebrate their wins, but how you handle success is what you’re judged by.

In today’s globalized world, New Zealanders recognize that we’re increasingly capable of doing things better than the rest of the world. New Zealand’s definition of success is shifting from ‘just as good as over there’ to ‘better than anywhere’. For example, Xero, Taika Waititi, Team New Zealand, Lorde.

“This was not New Zealand punching above their weight, this is their weight” – The Guardian reporting on The Black Caps success in the Cricket World Cup

However, fairness and social equivalence are also strong Kiwi Codes. In this context, we favour team success over individual success. Successful individuals are more likely to be admired if we believe they’ve worked hard to achieve their success, and that they encourage their success to rub off on the rest of us.   

“We are a nation that has been shaped by our experiences, and they often have been tough, harsh and unpredictable. That is when New Zealanders are at their best. That is when we rally, when we look after one another. When we care for the most vulnerable.” – Jacinda Ardern, addressing parliament on the emergency economic package for Covid19 

We still have a small town mentality

New Zealand is increasingly urbanized, and provincial towns like Tauranga are rapidly growing into bustling cities. However, most Kiwis still feel obliged to show they are pulling their weight, and not taking more than their fair share.

For example, think about a business owner in a small town. They may be one of the most successful people in their town, but that alone won’t garner admiration. To show their face down at the local pub, they need people to know that they’ve worked hard to earn their success, and that they use their success to fairly contribute to the collective success of the town – e.g. sponsoring the local rugby club and mucking in on town initiatives.

The Earned Success code recognises that Kiwis are now more willing to celebrate their wins, but how you handle success is what you’re judged by. 

The Earned Success code recognises that Kiwis are now more willing to celebrate their wins, but how you handle success is what you’re judged by.

Projecting earned success is one of the reasons that utes are still the top-selling new car type in New Zealand. The top of the line Ford Ranger is a luxury car costing over $80,000. But because it’s a ute, when it’s parked outside the pub, it sends the social signal of a hands-on Kiwi who has earned their success with hard work that’s paid off. There’s no silver spoons in the tray of a truck right?

What does this mean for marketers seeking to change behaviour?

Kiwis respect individuals and organisations that have a clear plan and ambition for success, as long as it’s done with humility and it’s backed up with proof.

In our research across lots of brands in lots of categories, Earned Success was found to be one of the two key drivers of brand love, but only 16% of people think organisations demonstrate it very well.

In our research across lots of brands in lots of categories, Earned Success was found to be one of the two key drivers of brand love, but only 16% of people think organisations demonstrate it very well.

In the past, DB Draught was a brand that leaned into this code quite literally with their line “that man deserves a DB”. Watch it here

That man deserves a DB campaign

Speights is another brand that has had Earned Success at the heart of its DNA and has recently put a 21st century spin on what it means to earn their beer with their latest ad “The Dance”. Not only has this rated highly in our tracking of New Zealand’s favourite ads, it’s a strategy that’s proven to be putting dollars in Lion’s pockets with an Effie award for advertising effectiveness. Watch it here

Speights The Dance campaign

On the other side of the alcohol marketing fence, NZTA has tapped into the earned success code with their drink driving campaigns. Recognising that Kiwis place high value on helping their mates, and that stopping a mate from drink driving isn’t always an easy thing to do. Their line “Stop a mate driving drunk. Legend” positions the desired behavior as a legendary job to do that will be praised and admired. Watch it here

NZTA Stop a mate from drink driving. Legend campaign

Mammoth Supply protein milk, and Mitre 10 DIY are also brands that lean into the code of Earned Success.

These are all quite masculine brands, but the same code is relevant for our wāhine too. Particularly in an age of increasing female empowerment. Women who see themselves as agents of change are motivated to signal to the world that they work hard for the success they so deserve. This is a global trend, but one that New Zealand brands could lean into more to motivate Kiwi women.

The main point to remember is that New Zealanders are increasingly ok with celebrating tall poppies, so long as they demonstrate they are handling their success in a fair and equitable way.

International examples include:

Elizabeth Arden’s ‘March On’ campaign leverages the fact that the makeup empire was started by a woman who worked hard to empower other women, and today they continue that mission by supporting UN Women initiatives to change the lives of women around the world. Watch it here

Elizabeth Arden March On campaign

Closer to home, Girl Boss is a not-for-profit organization networking 1000’s of high school aged women in NZ, Australia and the Cook Islands with a mission to close the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths, Entrepreneurship & Leadership. The GirlBoss Awards are a nationwide search for women aged 11-18 who are defying stereotypes and creating change in their communities

The main point to remember is that New Zealanders are increasingly ok with celebrating tall poppies, so long as they demonstrate they are handling their success in a fair and equitable way.

We all want to be known as the legend who mucked in, got the job done and used the success to benefit others.

“You’re a man who has never lost sight of where you’re going and most importantly, you’ve never lost sight of where you’ve been.” - Paul Holmes, on the rise to success of Sir Peter Leitch (aka The Mad Butcher)

Want to learn more? Get in touch at hello@tra.co.nz

Carl Sarney
Head of Strategy

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