Walking the ‘wear-out’ line: A look at New Zealand’s most beloved ads

Not only does New Zealand have stunning landscapes and a unique culture, as a nation it also has a deep love for creative and memorable advertisements. Here’s a look into the trends emerging from The Research Agency and ThinkTV’s Favourite Ads survey to find out what goes into creating a successful and well-loved ad.

When to stick with an ad and when to move on 

Does creative really become less effective as people get used to it? Recent research from System11 has helped bust the ‘wear-out’ myth. 

The data shows that there is no inherent ‘sell-by-date’ for creative. System1 warns that many brands “are not making the most of their high-performing ads” and “investing too much in their lowest performing creative.” 

This finding is echoed in The Research Agency’s (TRA) Favourite Ads survey. 

When people really like something, they don’t get sick of it in a hurry 

TRA, in partnership with ThinkTV, regularly survey New Zealanders to find out which creative is going the distance. 

The survey asks a nationally representative sample of over 1,000 people: “What is your favourite ad on TV at the moment?” (13k+ responses since 2019). 

The most frequently mentioned favourites make up our top ten list. 

Trustpower’s ‘Meant to be Together’, ASB’s ‘Ben and Amy’, and Westpac’s ‘Together Greater’ have all held positions in the top five since December 2021. 

That’s well over a year without signs of wear-out – and they don’t appear to be going anywhere any time soon. 

Favourite ads are like favourite films or tv shows – people enjoy watching things they connect with again and again. 

To really put this idea to the test, we went back to the classics 

We put Mitre 10’s ‘sandpit’ ad (2008) and Nestlé’s ‘Christmas/scorched almonds’ ad (1993) through our Creative Edge tracking to see whether they still resonate. 

Over the years, the brands have continued to get value from these ads – running them at rugby games (Mitre 10) and Christmas time (Nestlé). 

In March 2023, both performed well above average on being Remarkable (grabbing attention), Rewarding (being entertaining) and Remembered (brand is linked to the creative idea). Not only are the ads still very enjoyable to watch, they’ve also developed a strong link back to their brands over time. 

It doesn’t matter how old an ad is if people connect with it – but there is one important exception to this rule. 

Creative ‘wears-out’ when it stops resonating at a cultural level 

Campaigns are more relatable and enjoyable when they tap into cultural codes and tensions. Work that is off-code won’t resonate, or worse – may create a negative reaction.

That’s why it’s critical to stay across cultural shifts. 

Meat and Livestock Australia’s ‘Un-Australia / Share the Lamb’ (2022) and Speight’s ‘The Dance’ (2018) are good examples of evolving campaigns to keep up with shifts in the surrounding cultural context. 

The Australian Lamb campaign builds on themes the brand has become famous for. The message continues to be centred around lamb bringing Australians
together and the work uses the brand’s unique humour and epic storytelling style, as well as acknowledging its past contributions to an exclusive ‘Un-Australian’ cultural narrative in older ads, replacing this with a positive story. 

In ‘The Dance’, Speight’s builds on its established brand themes of celebrating mateship and using humour – made famous through ‘The Southern Man’ spots of
the 90s. The ad also evolves the ‘Good On Ya Mate’ platform by reflecting a shift in Kiwi mateship – where it has become more normalised for men to express friendship emotionally. 

Don’t be too quick to move onto the next thing 

Replacing an ad in the name of ‘wear-out’ can be a costly mistake. Use data and insight to make sure the work is no longer doing what it needs to do or is no longer culturally on code before deciding to replace it. 

If your ad continues to perform strongly, consider how you might extend the creative ideas across other media and touchpoints. This is proven to amplify the effectiveness of strong creative ideas. Don’t move on to the next thing based on an assumption that people must be losing interest. Chances are – they’re not.   

This article was originally published in the June/July 2023 issue of NZ MarketingClick here to subscribe.

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