Laconic wit a turn-on

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AUCKLAND, Today: AUT ad creativity lecturer Dan Fastnedge has penned a passionate piece on the role of Kiwis’ unique sense of humour – and tighter agency-client relationships – in the nation’s post-Covid recovery.

He wrote it for yesterday’s Herald on Sunday – we had hoped to simply provide the link, but at M+AD’s deadline this morning, it had yet to be posted on the NZH site (including the Premium section).

Fastnedge was previously an art director at London agencies Ogilvy and Wunderman. He’s also worked as a freelance AD.

His is an insightful take on the contemporary NZ ad scene, and deserves a far wider audience. So, we got typing. What follows are entirely the words of Fastnedge (with a light edit, solely to reduce wordage).

Unique ad culture
When the NZ Government wanted a campaign to keep kids safe online … it turned to video advertising agency Motion Sickness, which in turn created Sue & Derek, who turn up naked at a boy’s house to talk to him about real relationships.

“What sets NZ apart is smaller budgets, tighter agency-client relationships – and a unique sense of humour”

The ad went viral – 22m views worldwide. It has been praised for its use of humour to address tough issues.

It’s just the latest example of a unique advertising culture that makes up in creativity what it lacks in deep pockets.

The Keep It Real Online campaign is far from the first time Kiwi advertising has used humour to broach controversial subjects.

Taika Waititi’s Blazed employed his signature comedic approach to tackle drugged driving.

Elsewhere, the drink-driving campaign Legend gave NZ the now-iconic “ghost chips” line.

The Pre-testie Bestie campaign used authentic millennial humour and language to combat foetal alcohol spectrum disorder – becoming Youtube’s most successful AUNZ public awareness campaign.

Other examples include Champions for Change which addresses unconscious bias, Go Galls Out which confronts testicular cancer, If It’s Not Gay, It’s Not Gay which addresses homophobia, and Give Nothing to Racism.

What seems to set NZ apart is a combination of smaller budgets, tighter agency-client relationships and a unique sense of humour.

“Tiny budgets rule out epic shoots – but emphasise creativity.”

NZ ad budgets are tiny … this rules out epic shoots but emphasises creativity. Celebrity endorsements are also rare …

The Keep It Real campaign – which included billboards, posters, print, social and a website – took only four weeks to create. This is even more impressive given the client was the Government.

Another important but intangible ingredient is the NZ sense of humour and the way it informs local culture.

Laconic, understated, self-deprecating, and deadpan.

The first Keep It Real comment on Youtube was: “Wow they never do things like this in the US”.

The timing of Keep It Real was also opportune, as NZ had just entered lockdown, and a little comic relief was welcome.

Since then ad agencies have been finding creative ways to help local businesses, offering free media space, website design, and strategic planning.

Hopefully, this kind of nimble, ingenious and brave creativity will be an integral part of the recovery, too.

  • By the time you read this, the Herald On Sunday may have posted the story on the NZH website. Let’s hope:

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