New Zealand outdoor advertisement, getting it right

The last post didn’t really do it for me.

But the Oreo incident in the States that I wrote about got me to thinking about how New Zealand organizations appeal to their audiences. How do they do their marketing?

A brief walk from Parnell to downtown Auckland gives us a clear indication. When it comes to public display advertising, Kiwis need to prime their A-Game.

I mean, take a look at this advertisement for a new, reality television show called The Block.

Sorry for the lousy exposure, but I think it’s clear enough. TV3 made a huge error in judgment. The models featured in this billboard strongly suggest that the network is targeting the highly desirable, 18-to-32-year-old, douchebag market segment. I mean, if that’s not who they’re banking on to attract advertisers, then they’ve got me confused. You just have to look closely to understand what I’m talking about.

Clearly, these people are operating at a social, if not a cognitive, deficit. The woman above wants to re-enact a scene from the movie, Misery, with the man on the right. But she’s swinging her mallet in the wrong direction. Meanwhile, the guy isn’t even playing along. He’s too busy congratulating himself for taking a shit in a 1920’s-era tennis outfit. We’re all proud of you, bro.

But just because the models look like they come from Douchebag Central, that doesn’t mean the people on the show or the people watching it are also douchebags. So I decided to do a little digging. The Blockis New Zealand’s hot DIY programme. The network bought a few do-ups in a row somewhere, and selected a corresponding number of couples to fix up the houses. I guess the ones that do the best work win something.

I don’t really know, since I grew completely bored reading about it. But I was on the programme’s Website long enough to see this picture.

Speaking as a douchebag myself, this just doesn’t resonate with me. I’m left to wonder who it is they’re aiming for, and what kind of people so enthusiastically look forward to eight hours of strenuous labor in a toxic atmosphere of mold, dust and asbestos? The guy on the left is clapping his hands, without realizing the irony that at some point he will accidentally cut one of them off with a radial saw.

And what about the guy on the right? What kind of person wears jogging clothes to a construction site, complete with gym shorts and black socks? A douchebag, yes. But not my kind of douchebag.

This all could be the network’s spin on Tom Sawyer getting everyone else to paint the fence. Maybe people are supposed to see how positively giddy the models in the billboard ad are, and say to themselves, “Hey, having a rusted nail drive up your jogging shoe, through your foot looks like a fuckload of fun. Let me get down to Warehouse and buy some caulking right away.”

The network is not as clever as that.

Which is to say, in Auckland’s outdoor advertising ecosystem, TV3 is not alone.

This one, from ANZ Bank, commands another busy approach to the motorways, but from the direction of the CBD, on Beach Road.

It celebrates the bank’s sponsorship of the New Zealand Olympic team competing in London at the end of the month.

I’ve passed it many times over the last few months, and it has always troubled me as unpleasant and insensitive.

Does ANZ really want its brand to be associated with lumps in people’s throats? I hate to break it to them, but not every lump in a person’s throat is a good thing, necessarily. Most lumps in people’s throats, in fact, have serious health implications that need to be addressed immediately by a doctor. These can range from a chicken bone, to someone’s index finger poking around, to an unfortunate incident with a Tic Tac.

It’s hard to imagine what ANZ is thinking. Do they really want to risk having people say things like “I have a benign throat polyp thanks to the friendly folks at ANZ.” We seem to have moved far beyond the day when they gave you a toaster for starting an account.

ANZ’s sloganeering isn’t that far off, though. They just need to tweak the ad to appeal to their core customers. These are the kind of people with second mortgages and retirement funds, the ones that are truly engaged with banks in general. Considering that target demographic, it’d be much more affective if the poster read “Proud sponsor of the goiter on your neck”.

The next one is a slightly different species. It alerts us to the existence of a bar somewhere in the drab and depressing residential/commercial complex on Beach Road, the Waldorf on Scene Apartments.

I’m really not sure which feeling this mildly psychotic display is intended to evoke. Perhaps boredom. Perhaps something a little more kinetic and exciting, like discomfort or hangover.

In the end, this feels like the place you take your spouse to reveal your gambling addiction, and that you have 24 hours to pay off the loan shark or you’re going to end up in Auckland Harbor. At least that’s the only time I’d take Jacquie there.

Finally, there’s this next one, hanging on the railroad trestle obverse to The Block promotion.

KiwiRail wants you to know that it’s transforming the way we move freight over land in this country. This isn’t your grandfather’s locomotive. We’re talking high-tech efficiency, here. So, congratulations, New Zealand, you finally have a train engine powerful enough to poke its way through a sheet of paper.

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