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January 30, 2024
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New Zealand’s Top Ten Favourite Ads December 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 December 2023

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

  1. ASB – Ben and Amy same 
  2. ANZ – We Do How same
  3. Turners – Tina from Turners  +1 
  4. PAK’nSAVE – Stickman +1
  5. McDonalds – It’s Good to be the Driver new to list
  6. The Warehouse – A Christmas Spent Together  new to list
  7. KFC – General retail  +1
  8. Genesis – George and her family -5
  9. Westpac – Together Greater returns to list
  10. Air New Zealand – The Great Christmas Chase new to list

New Zealand's 10 favourite Christmas ads in 2023

In December, we asked an extra question; "What's your favourite New Zealand Christmas ad on TV?"

While there are several new ads in the list with The Warehouse and Air New Zealand making the overall top ten, NZ Post’s 'Keeping Ho Ho Hush Hush’ (made in 2019) has once again made the run – taking the third spot this year. There are also some decades old classics that have stood the test of time and remain cemented in the minds of many kiwis as their favourite Christmas ad.

Another unusual influence this year was an article about The Briscoes Lady published in October 2023 on The Spinoff where actor Tammy Wells reveals that her personal favourite Briscoes ad was the 1995 ‘Cracker Christmas’ spot. This seems to have rekindled the memories of enough New Zealanders to nudge it into a top ten spot in 2023.

You might argue that the way we asked the question meant that people just named any Christmas ad they could think of. But here lies the insight – if we ask people to think of a Christmas ad on TV and what comes to mind is a decade old ad, then there’s a positive memory lodged and this is still valuable to the brand today. It goes to show just how long the long-term nature of brand building is.

This also begs a strategic question. One that creative agency bean counters won’t like, but client CFOs will love. What if your brand invested in one epic Christmas ad based on an evergreen human truth that’s made to last for years?

If I was a marketer with a new Christmas ad that made this year’s top ten favourites, I’d certainly be playing the NZ Post strategy and keeping it on air this year, and the year after that, and the year after that.

  1. The Warehouse – A Christmas Spent Together
  2. Air New Zealand – The Great Christmas Chase
  3. NZ Post – Keeping Ho Ho Hush Hush
  4. Coca Cola – Anyone can be Santa
  5. New World – However you do Christmas
  6. Nestle – Scorched Almonds
  7. Beaurepairs – Vince Martin Wonderland
  8. Farmers – Secret Santa
  9. Briscoes – Cracker Christmas
  10. Spark – Give a gift that unleashes theirs

Learnings from the marketers behind the work 

We reached 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 ad.  

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 as a favourite 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 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 won gold for sustained success at the 2023 Effies.

2. ANZ – We Do How

ANZ’s ‘We Do How’ brand platform turned two in April 2023. 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 particular ANZ ad receiving the most mentions this wave is for ‘Ravi’s Why’ about the Good Energy Home Loan. This humourous and topical spot with the memorable line “saving so much... planet” seems to have struck a chord with the public.

ANZ continue to see a positive impact on brand and advertising metrics – helping drive strong consideration through making memorable and enjoyable ads that Kiwis love to watch. ANZ's We Do How campaign also won a bronze Effie in the brand revitalisation category.

3. Turners – Tina from Turners

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.” 

In 2022, the campaign picked up the Marketing Supreme Award at the Marketing Awards, and two gold Effies. The results have continued to accelerate – with the campaign helping to deliver another record profit at the end of March 2023. 

4. 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.   

The Pak’nSave marketers now use Stickman in increasingly creative ways, all the way through the customer experience, not just on TV. They’ve even started thinking of him as a real part of the Pak’nSave team. Lauren Ness, Brand and CX, explains that “Stickman loves getting involved in the production so that he can help keep prices low for our customers.”

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.

5. McDonalds – It’s good to be the Driver

Here we have a new entrant to the top ten that’s got there by employing several of the traits common to favourite ads.

Cultural relevance – the ad is filled with familiar scenes that many kiwis can relate to on their own summer road trips. The back handed ‘gimme some more chips’ gesture is one we’ve noticed people mimicking when the ad has come up in conversation.

A big uplifting soundtrack – Huey Lewis’s ‘Power of Love’ is a feel-good nostalgic ear worm that perfectly sums up the loving bond between a car full of friends and family on a summer roadie.

Not relying on a logo at the end – there’s unmistakably recognisable McDonalds packaging throughout the ad, and the McDonalds product is at the centre of the story not something that gets in the way of the entertainment. This means brand attribution is very strong for this ad.

Another subtle, yet powerful trait not to be overlooked, is the close up shots of people’s faces reacting to stolen chips and sneaky bites of burgers. Seeing a strongly emotive facial expression ignites the emotion of the viewer too. Now you know why ‘reaction videos’ on YouTube and TikTok have become so popular.

Leigh Benvie, Head of Brand & Media at McDonalds New Zealand says, “We are really proud of this spot so its amazing that its made the list! Our aim is to always create messaging that our Kiwi customers find relatable and puts a smile on their face, and this summer was no different.  Its an unwritten road trip rule that when you pass through a Macca’s drive through the driver gets to claim their “tax” – be it a bite of your burger, a nuggie from your 6 pack or a handful of your fries.  This summer spot brings this truth to the forefront.”

6. The Warehouse – A Christmas Spent Together  

Another new entrant to the top ten, The Warehouse has thought hard about the range of emotions felt at Christmas time and has stood out from the pack with an ad that reflects both the joy of togetherness as well as the sadness and sorrow of being alone. This carefully crafted emotional story helps the ad hold attention and stick in people’s memories.

As one survey respondent put it, I usually mute when ads are on but this one touched me as there are so many older people out there who have no one, which is sad.”

Jonathan Waecker, Chief Customer and Sales Officer at The Warehouse Group says, “As New Zealand’s one stop Christmas shop, we love helping Kiwis create joyful memories with their friends and whānau. We’ve had great feedback from customers as well as our own team who loved the creative and how it tapped into what's so special about the holiday season – being with one another”

7. KFC – General retail

KFC continue to deliver some of the most entertaining product and price promos in New Zealand. The 15-second 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.

8. Genesis – George and her family 

Genesis’ loveable family celebrated their first birthday in June 2023 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.”  

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 brand platform is resonating strongly, with increased consideration amongst customers and non-customers, and significant shifts in positive perceptions about the brand.

9. Westpac – Together Greater

This is an interesting return to the top ten. While Westpac moved away from their ‘Together Greater’ ad with the giant, the kid and the treehouse that had often featured in the favourites list. We’ve had several people simply saying “the Westpac ad” is their favourite, which could be the new ‘Greater at Caring’ series of ads featuring a ‘croca-doggie’ that they launched in 2023. However many people are still describing “The Westpac Ad about the kid and the monster”. Perhaps renewed media presence with the new ad is bringing forth memories of the old favourite ad?

10. Air New Zealand – The Great Christmas Chase

Launching right around the time our survey went into field, Air New Zealand’s 2023 Christmas ad made a strong impression quickly and rounds out the December top ten.

While this ad centres on a fairly straight forward premise of a lost present being returned to a customer, the execution is massively elevated with a cinematic rendition of ‘jingle bells’ and several epic special effects. It adds excitement and suspense that reward the viewer with what they sat down in front of the TV for in the first place – entertainment.

Strong branding is present throughout as we see an Air New Zealand staff member in their distinctive uniform make a heroic chase through a busy airport running, jumping and sliding past koru emblazoned aircraft. Along the way we see her deliver a high standard of service for several other customers in pursuit of the lost gift giver. This means Air New Zealand makes a strong point about delivering world-class service in an unmistakably branded way, all without getting in the way of a great story.

One of our survey respondent describes it as “Great entertainment value with... good energy and meaning”

Another tick in the box of TV ad effectiveness is adding a smile moment in a pause amidst all the suspense as she hops aboard then quickly ditches a slow moving security buggy. This is a great technique to mixup the emotions, keep the audience engaged, and connect well with kiwis who love to laugh. 

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January 30, 2024
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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