Map of Australia and New Zealand

Can great creative transcend geographic borders?

19 July 2017

By Alicia Tutty, Media Director for Y&R Wellington


Many of us who have worked on a global client’s business will know the scenario: A TVC arrives close to live date with a distinctly non-local talent mouthing a message out of sync with the localised voice over. It’s a cringe-worthy moment that’s repeated time and time again on our screens.

Even when the language is the same, the cringe factor can still be high. "Bam and the dirt is gone", "Thank you Mr Hooker", and "I’m a big kid now" remain stuff of legend in the collective memories of New Zealanders, and not necessarily for the right reasons.

A quick look at the favourite ads for each market on YouTube demonstrates we clearly have different tastes:

Favourite commercials - Australia vs New Zealand


Advertisers often wonder why a creative made for the Australian market produces different results when transferred over to New Zealand. Kantar TNS have recently undertaken an extensive research project to help answer this very question.

Kantar TNS’s observations confirmed the suspicions: New Zealanders watching Australian ads were less attentive than their Australian counterparts.

Graph of frame by frame attention by country


But why? We’ve got so much in common; don’t we? In their study, Neighbours, but worlds apart?, Kantar TNS discovered that advertisers find it easy to lump NZ and Australia together as one market since, on paper, there’s not too much different between us:

  • We’re geographically close
  • Our media usage is much the same
  • We both love the outdoors and nature
  • We all see ourselves as loyal, caring, open-minded, equality lovers, confident, and laid back

But wait a minute, there's all this stuff that we don’t exactly have in common, such as:

  • We were colonised by different nations
  • Many of our immigrants originated from different countries
  • Our language, geography, wildlife, land area, GDP, and population size are also different

In fact, our differences outnumber our similarities, which results in two cultures constructed differently. Kantar TNS discovered that our cultures were identified in two simple but separate ways:

  • In NZ the wider goal is “making the most of life”
  • In Australia the wider goal is “making the most of self”

This manifests itself in important things like our aspirations and humour and goes beyond the stereotypes we often associate with being a New Zealander or an Australian.

Kantar TNS unpacked this by asking about who we see as heroes and what kinds of achievements we admired. The gap between us was clearly demonstrated when Shane Warne factored highly on the hero scale for Australians, whereas for New Zealanders, the response was more likely to be “my mum”. Resilience, bravery, courage and confidence were the attributes Australians most admired. For New Zealanders, it was being hard working, loyal and making a genuine difference.

And market size plays a huge part, which Kantar TNS used the chocolate category to demonstrate. Less competition coupled with negative PR for Cadbury in New Zealand means that our leading chocolate brand, Whittaker's has 22% share of equity. In Australia, the market leader, Cadbury has 12%. This example also shows how New Zealanders want to support local heroes, especially when you consider Cadbury has a 2016 reported rate card spend 6 times that of Whittaker’s.[1]

Kantar TNS helpfully fed this all into “Top 5 Tips to Improve Trans-Tasman Communication Effectiveness”:

  • Challenge Cultural Assumptions – stereotypes differ from reality
  • Identify a unifying insight early on in the creative process (avoiding a voice over change a week before it goes live)
  • Differences in brand equity can impact a campaign’s ability to travel
  • Understand the competitive set for our brands in each market
  • Be specific – culturally ambiguous communications often don’t resonate

While the study only confirms what we all instinctively all know, it gives us fire power and acts as an important reminder to challenge our global clients to consider local market differences when creating content.

Now, who Feels Like Chicken Tonight? (Chicken Tonight!)

  1. Nielsen Fusion 2016