How does New Zealand constantly produce humorous and entertaining ads? Three creatives spill the beans

Kiwis love to laugh and they love nothing more than to interact and have fun with ideas.

Why do brands and agencies in New Zealand constantly put out funny, quirky and entertaining advertisements, like this? We ask three creatives for their insights and opinions.

Toby Talbot, chief creative officer, Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand

New Zealand is reasonably affluent, people have a good standard of living and it has a good education system on a whole.

I think Kiwis love to laugh and they love nothing more than to interact and have fun with ideas. They have a long history of doing really funny work because they do not take themselves too seriously.

There is a very strong Western influence because it is still part of the Commonwealth, but more importantly, there is a lot of love for British and American humour. New Zealand is very open to the world and in any point of time, one in three Kiwi is overseas.

They come back and they are like 'sponges' where they take in lots of ideas. They are very good at innovating as well and they try to think of things differently. That came from necessity hundred years ago, because people arrived in New Zealand, where they had nothing and they had to make homes.

It is a young country and New Zealanders has a 'can do' attitude, which affects advertising somehow. We are always looking to do things differently.

Levi Slavin, chief creative officer, Colenso BBDO New Zealand

I believe distance plays a big role. We have a very tight, extraordinarily talented, creative community in NZ. This means that people are more willing to collaborate to make great work. And when you invite people into the process, the contribution you receive is extraordinary.

We have a very direct culture on this side of the world. Spades are spades. And bullshit is called frequently. As a result, the ideas that connect at scale are respectful and very honest. And humor is a great way to deliver the truth.

The ad formats that we’ve found that resonate best are tailor made for both the idea and the audience. If you stay true to both, more often than not, those formats tend to be quite unique.

Justin Barnes, executive creative director, J. Walter Thompson New Zealand

One of the things I have always admired about NZ ad agencies is that they punch way above their weight on the global stage, but when I arrived last year what I was surprised to discover is the speed at which these world-beating creative ideas are conceived (briefs that would typically take days in the UK could be solved in hours in NZ).

The reason for this creative efficiency is I think driven firstly by necessity - much smaller budgets mean NZ agencies have a lot less time to think up ideas.

Secondly, it’s driven by the way local creatives are educated - NZ advertising colleges follow the effective old-school method where college life is designed to accurately mirror agency life. Students are educated within real-world conditions in a system that trains them to deliver ideas of an incredibly high standard in a very short period of time.

The result is that students emerge from advertising college with a very sharp sense of what is required and how to deliver it. Unsurprisingly, these students are quickly snapped up by the highly-awarded local agencies, but inevitably, with these skills at their disposal many Kiwi creatives fly the nest and find fame and fortune in the world’s other advertising hot spots.

Lastly (and probably most importantly) another key influence in the quality of creative output is the lack of multiple layers of client approval that is so prevalent is bigger markets. In NZ the first creative review is often with the client who has the final say, so decisions are faster, more instinctive and pragmatic.

As we all know, humour plays a massive part in creating deep emotional connections between brands and consumers. Luckily, Kiwis have a very dry and self-deprecating sense of humour, which kind of explains why so many of their advertising creatives successfully employ this wit to engage and charm their consumers.

Kiwi consumers are highly sophisticated and advertising savvy, so it’s tough to connect with them using conventional commercial communications.

Consumers in NZ expect the value exchange to be heavily weighted in their favour, so it’s not good enough to pump out a meaningless ream of branded wallpaper - Kiwi consumers demand a lot more in exchange for their valuable attention.

That’s why so much of the most creative and effective work NZ has produced in recent years has been experiential or interactive in some way or other - the type of work that delivers to consumers a commercial message whilst at the same time rewarding them with a great experience.

Notable works from New Zealand

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