Independent Liquor have virtually owned the New Zealand Ready To Drink (RTD) market since the early 90s - taking cheap spirits and flavouring them with soft drinks and distributing them in easily consumed cannisters. It caught the major New Zealand liquor players flat-footed in a category they hadn't really identified and which, as incumbents with well-known brands like Jim Beam and Smirnoff were concentrating on moving more of what they already had - or competing for share of an existing pie.
Ok, history lesson over. Fast forward to now; or a little before now when the RTD market is colossal and an important segue for 'emerging drinkers' to graduate to stiffer drinks. Enter Woodstock bourbon and cola mix. The brand hit a popular nerve with its campaign featuring the 'Wolf West' actor from Outrageous Fortune featuring the line 'Is it ok if your mate's mum gives you a Woody?'. It's a bit awkward to deconstruct the line without crossing the line, so I'll leave it to you to work out for yourself. The campaign was a success - the expression leapt into the vernacular with the same ease that liquor advertising and advertising to young guys jumped the shark. There was the inevitable hue and cry from the concerned citizens who duly complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that the campaign breached the voluntary Code. The ASA ruled that it did not.
Independent liquor are giving the brand another push, this time featuring the talents of movie, TV and web video star Pamela Anderson. The campaign has been cleverly created by independent New Zealand Agency Barnes Catmur & Partners. According to Stoppress "there will be a $2.46 million on in-store promotions, broadcast sponsorship around 192 NRL games on Sky and year-long online and social media campaign."
It's a clever strategy. Ms Anderson's star doesn't burn as brightly as it once did. But recognition of her brand is still high - I don't have any metrics, but if you Google 'Pamela Anderson' you get 58.8 million results (even allowing for there being another 50 well known people with the same name that's still rather a lot - if you delve 10 pages into the results there is no ambiguity - Pammy is still big). She makes her living from 'appearing' around the world - sort of a proto Kardashian. Hollywood may not be calling but a quick gig in New Zealand can't hurt. So, a win-win.
What can we learn from this ?
When you are thinking of a developing an ad campaign with a 'celebrity' it's worth thinking about the b-listers. They may not have won The Block, but brothers Pete and Andy were popular and, according to the Manawatu Standard (who know about these things) 'Bulls brothers Pete and Andy Walker from TV show The Block may become as synonymous a duo as Ches 'n' Dale, such is their popularity.' Things haven't panned out that way yet for the brothers but they were cleverly scooped up by Hirepool in a terrific brand hijack. Sometimes the runners up and non-winners of 'reality shows' are better talent than the winners - Australian Masterchef contestant Poh Ling Yeow was knocked out of contention for wrongly guessing the ingredients of a minestrone soup, so missed out on the prizes and endorsements but went on to score a couple of TV series and book deals. She is, arguably, a more durable asset than the seasonal favourites who are eagerly consumed then forgotten by the viewing public.
Short of investing in your own talent, picking up faded stars and also-rans can create screen sensations. Over 25 years ago Beaurepairs' made Vince Martin world famous in New Zealand (via Colenso advertising's Len Potts' genius for spotting talent - often in sand-up comedy clubs). Before that Martin was a bit-player in Aussie soap operas. Potts also brought Lee Majors to New Zealand to reprise his Six Million Dollar Man role for Toyota. Then, in a stroke of genius he made the connection that bush poet Barry Crump embodied everything the Toyota HiLux needed to be to be worthy of consideration by Kiwi farmers - so much so that the two are intertwined -even though Crump has been dead for 18 years, HiLux is as archetypical of the 'Good Keen Man'.
Independent Liquor Website
Advertising Standards Authority
The Manawatu Standard
Vince Martin Beaurepairs
Original Toyota HiLux ad with Barry Crump
This blog is a notepad of contemporaneous and sometimes extemporaneous thoughts about creativity, strategy and ideas.