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September 25, 2023
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New Zealand's Top 10 Favourite Ads of September 2023

TRA, in partnership with ThinkTV, regularly surveys New Zealanders to find out which ads are resonating and which creative is going the distance. 

The survey asks a nationally representative sample of over 1,000 people a simple, unprompted question; “What is your favourite ad on TV at the moment?” We also ask them why they like it and how it makes them feel.  

The most frequently mentioned favourites make up our top ten list. Here are the latest results:

New Zealand's 10 favourite ads in September 2023

Note: '+/-' indicators note how the ranking of each ad has changed since last evaluation in June 2023.  

  1. ASB – Ben and Amy same 
  2. ANZ – Long Term Plans / Kiwisaver Scheme +2
  3. Genesis – George and her family +2 
  4. Turners – Tina from Turners -2
  5. PAK’nSAVE – Stickman -2 
  6. Lotto NZ - Powerball Imagine House Hunt  new to list
  7. Uber - They Eats like us  new to list
  8. KFC – General retail -1
  9. McDonald’s – General retail returns to list
  10. Waka Kotahi – Toll Booth -1

Learnings from the marketers behind the work 

We reach out to the marketers who helped create these favourites to share their learnings and insights into what it takes to create popular and effective work. 

Read on for valuable learnings and inspiration for creating a favourite.  

Applying TRA's Creative Edge Framework 

For each of the public’s favourites, we also used our proprietary Creative Edge framework to consider the strength of the ad’s execution.  
The 'Three R's' of Creative Edge measure how likely an ad is to:  

  • Grab people's attention (Remarkable); 
  • Entertain them (Rewarding); and 
  • How strongly the brand was linked to the creative idea (Remembered).  

The ads that New Zealanders name will perform well on Remarkable and Rewarding - but it's the use of recognisable brand codes that ensures the brand is Remembered and gets credit for its powerful creative.   

The most effective campaigns achieve strong scores across all Three R’s.  

1. ASB – Ben and Amy

Through strong creative commitment to their platform and characters, ASB have got to a place where new executions remind viewers of past ones they’ve enjoyed. Kiwis are invested in Ben and Amy’s story; looking forward to seeing what comes next. 
‘The girl with the cold feet’ gets most mentions in the September survey. The ad, first released in March 2020, is feel-good and wholesome fun with Ben putting in a lot of effort to find a house with under-floor heating for Amy’s cold feet. The story reflects Kiwi’s unique sense of humour.  
The characters have become loveable brand assets. ASB achieves one of the strongest creative edge score across the board.  
Bianca Osborne, Brand Experience Lead at ASB, says that the campaign has been very successful in building ASB’s strongest ever brand metrics. “Importantly, branded recall and likability is really strong. This is delivered by our consistent use of characters, our warm tone, and the cultural truths we tap into.”

ASB's Ben and Amy campaign is a 2023 Effies finalist.

2. ANZ – Long Term Plans / KiwiSaver Scheme

ANZ’s ‘We Do How’ brand platform turned two in April this year. It demonstrates ANZ’s commitment to giving New Zealanders the practical help they need to start their financial wellbeing journey.  
Through the Sharma whānau, the brand tells stories that people love to watch and have a deeper connection with. 
Reflecting on the intent, Michael Reynolds, Head of Brand Marketing at ANZ, says the team knew they wanted to develop a new advertising approach which allowed the brand to show up consistently in market with strong brand codification. “We know that consumers crave consistency when it comes to reinforcing key brand messages – important for any brand to stay top of mind.”  
The ad receiving the most mentions this wave is for ANZ’s KiwiSaver scheme. New Zealanders find the story humorous and relevant – connecting with Ravi’s desire to relive his glory days through planning for the long-term. Further, his passion project of converting a petrol motorbike to electric draws attention to ANZ’s focus on responsible investment. 
ANZ continue to see a positive impact on brand and advertising metrics – helping drive strong consideration through making memorable and enjoyable ads Kiwis love to watch.

ANZ's We Do How campaign is a 2023 Effies finalist.

3. Genesis – George and her family 

Genesis’ loveable family celebrate their first birthday in June and continue to perform strongly on the favourite ads list. 
Kiwis love the humour and can see themselves in the characters – “They’re just a real-life family with no airs and graces.”  
The most mentioned ad sees the family put their ‘Power Shout’ to good use. Stephanie Fahey, Head of Brand at Genesis, says the creative plays on family dynamics – “We all know a teenager who sleeps all day while the household continues. Audiences are enjoying the relatable humour in the ad and the loveable character George.” 
Genesis have built an enduring platform to talk to multiple proof points. Kiwis are getting to know more about the family with every execution. 
The band platform is resonating strongly, with increased consideration amongst customers and non-customers, and significant shifts in positive perceptions about the brand.

4. Turners – Tina from Turners

In the March survey, we introduced a new unprompted question – ‘What ad would you say is the most talked about on TV?’ Tina from Turners comes out on top by a long way. 
There’s no doubt that the news of cultural icon Tina Turner passing away amplified conversations. According to Spinoff, “Many mistakenly mourned the shocking loss of an equally beloved but fictional character who sells used cars on our television screens.” 
Tina from Turners is fast becoming a loved personality in her own right. She’s described as hilarious, vibrant, positive, and charming. Fans are using Turners’ TikTok to make their own ads with different music and filters and creating their own popular memes.  

The Turners brand gets full credit. Tina’s name is humorously linked to the brand, she wears a staff uniform, and the stories focus on her love of buying cars. There’s no mistaking who the ads are for.  
Sean Wiggans, General Manager of Marketing at Turners, points to another effectiveness principle behind the campaign – focusing on one message. “People are busy and most don’t care about your brand, so you have to make it easy for them. And if your budget isn’t that big, you have to focus even more. Just make sure it’s the right message strategically and you execute it really well.”  
Last year, the campaign picked up the Marketing Supreme Award at the Marketing Awards, and two gold Effies. And the results have continued to accelerate – with the campaign helping to deliver another record profit at the end of March.

5. PAK’nSAVE – Stickman

Stickman has been the face of PAK’nSAVE for 15 years and is still making Kiwis laugh. This campaign is a masterclass in long-term brand building.   
The character, the voice, and the yellow and black world are all instantly-recognisable distinctive assets.

Further, Stickman is a constant reminder of PAK’nSAVE’s brand positioning – everything the brand does, including its no-frills advertising style, is to save customers money.   

In the ‘No Fancy Frontman’ TV spot, Stickman reminds New Zealand that to keep prices low PAK’nSAVE doesn’t waste money on fancy front men. 

Lauren Ness, Brand and CX, explains that Stickman is just as passionate about low prices as the PAK’nSAVE team.

“Stickman loves getting involved in the production so that he can help keep prices low for our customers. This time we let him make the ad himself! And he surprised us all with his amazing puppeteer skills!,” says Ness. 

This ad is just one in a series that highlight some of the ways that PAK’nSAVE keep prices low built around the brand promise of ‘Everything we do, we do to save you money’. 

This consistency and focus helps PAK’nSAVE fend off fierce competition, and the sustained success of Stickman has seen PAK’nSAVE awarded both the Brand Axis and Grand Effie in 2019

6. Lotto NZ - Powerball Imagine House Hunt

It’s the build-up of tension and rewarding reveal at the end that makes the latest Lotto ‘Imagine’ spot so powerful. Fans like that: "it's a win-win story where they both got what they want in the end." This gets Kiwis talking about what they would do if they won – both what they would hold onto and the interesting compromises they might make in achieving different people’s dreams.

Leah Neilson, Head of Brand and Creative at Lotto NZ, states: “The remarkable truth we witness time and again is that when Kiwis win big with Powerball, they often choose to embrace the simple things – it doesn’t always mean transforming every aspect of one’s life.”

The ad over-indexes on making people feel more positive about the brand and the long-term ‘Imagine’ platform has been recognised with multiple Gold awards at Effie Aotearoa over the years.  

7. Uber - They Eats like us

Uber’s ‘They Eats like us / They Rides like us” campaign celebrates the brand’s partnership with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) in a distinctively Kiwi way.

The norm in sports sponsorship is to draw attention to high performance and athleticism in a conventionally aspirational tone of voice. In contrast, this campaign reflects Kiwis’ easy-going nature through showing the relatable day-to-day side of sporting icons.

Fans call out the humour – enjoying the moment where the All Blacks reach to Ethan De Groot’s not-so-impressive pizza. The campaign over-indexes on being Rewarding in creative edge.  Further, the campaign achieves a healthy Remembered score thanks to the strong role of the Uber offering in the stories.

8. KFC – General retail

KFC continue to deliver some of the most entertaining product and price promos in New Zealand. The 15” spots follow a consistent structure that pack a punch with likeable jokes that keep love for KFC front and centre. 

And with the use of red and white striped buckets, music, and the colonel, there’s no mistaking who it’s for. As Leanne Too, Marketing Director at KFC puts it, “We love to create advertising in a way that is KFC distinctive and relevant to Kiwis, bringing out the crave, humour and to liven up the moment in the everyday.”  

Further, a lot of work goes into building relevance through using the Kiwi Codes and monitoring social media trends to understand what’s resonating with Kiwis; tapping into cultural moments that are part of everyday life. 

Consistency, humour, distinctiveness, and relevance – the secret ingredients to KFC’s success. 

9. McDonald's - General retail

McDonald’s do an excellent job of wrapping their promotion work up in rewarding stories that Kiwis enjoy.

Entertaining spots like the latest delivery campaign which shows parents rushing their kids to bed so that they can enjoy their Macca’s are fun and memorable. It’s an impressive feat for promotion work to find a place so high on the Favourite Ads list.

It might come down to McDonald’s inclusion of moments that make Kiwis smile.  Luke Rive, Director of Marketing at McDonald’s, notes that the team always “aim to bring a smile to people’s faces and build an emotional connection that will ultimately drive a visit to restaurants.” 

And it’s working. Campaigns have translated into strong sales, with all promotional products exceeding sales forecasts. “A common thread through these campaigns is that consumers have rated the ads highly on ‘enjoyed watching’.

Several McDonald's ads are 2023 Effies finalists.

10. Waka Kotahi – Toll Booth

Waka Kotahi launched ‘Toll Booth’ last year - the first public awareness campaign as part of their Road to Zero strategy. Underpinned by a vision of zero deaths and serious injuries in Aotearoa, Road to Zero specifically aims to reduce deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand roads by 40% by 2030 (based on 2018 levels). 
Waka Kotahi needed to tell a confronting story to change attitudes towards the horrifying road toll figures New Zealanders see.  
Toll Booth grabs attention with its mysterious build-up to an unexpected and tragic ending – “It’s scary and effective, surprising too.” The chilling delivery of, “Just the little one today,” sticks in viewers’ minds with many mentioning it in their response to our survey. 
The ad is appreciated for delivering an important message in a hard-hitting way – “It’s horrible but it works well to make you think seriously about the cost paid for carelessness or speed on the road.”  
Toll Booth is just the beginning of a long-term strategy to educate all New Zealanders that they all have a role to play in making roads in their communities safer.   

What have we learned?

Through looking at the ads that make the favourite list, we can arrive at five key principles for creating popular and effective work.

Build to last

Aim to create work that wears in, where you can add depth and meaning to it over time. And give your hero execution the time and space it needs to become familiar and loved.

Use emotional storytelling to create remarkable and rewarding work 

The trick is to create stories that don’t just grab attention but hold it. Including little ‘smile moments’ can make all the difference.

Tap into Kiwi Codes and cultural tensions  

Careful work has gone into creating ads that resonate with Kiwis at a cultural level. This makes them even more relatable and enjoyable. 

Don’t just rely on your logo at the end

There are great examples on this list of how weaving brand codes throughout the execution doesn’t get in the way of creating highly rewarding work. And with eight out of ten featuring ongoing brand characters, it’s clear this this is a powerful way to achieve strong brand attribution.

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September 25, 2023
Contributed by
Tagged with
Behaviour change
Brand & creative
Customer experience
Cultural insight
Carl Sarney
Head of Strategy
Carl has over 20 years of insight industry experience. He is specialised in brand and comms strategy with a proven history of effective work for his clients, including several gold awards for advertising effectiveness. His research work has taken him to just about every town in New Zealand. He's conducted qualitative research while based in London and spent seven years as an ad agency planner before joining TRA.
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