Divergent kindreds: ad transference between Australia and New Zealand

Irene Joshy
By Irene Joshy | 8 December 2023
Irene Joshy

Irene Joshy – Head of Creative, Kantar Australia

Ad transference between Australia and New Zealand is a top-of-mind question for many marketers working across these shores. Geographic proximity makes marketers believe that we are similar, and some similarities do exist in terms of media and device usage, general attitudes to life like being laidback, open-minded and sharing a strong sense of equality among all. But the minute you scratch the surface, you realise that there are more differences than one can imagine regarding creative tastes and sensibilities.

So, as part of my continuous series of advertising deep dives powered by artificial intelligence for AdNews (the magic of spirits and financial services creative effectiveness), I decided to take 35 digital creatives and answer the big transference question between these two markets. They cover a range of categories from retailers to FMCG, and insurance and banking to travel. To make the mix interesting I also analysed the most recent Christmas releases including the latest Apple holiday ad and tested them to appeal and acceptance in both Australia and New Zealand. Digital AI provided a holistic view of ad performances through a combination of creative and behavioural measures along with brand lift data.

Two-thirds (65 per cent) of the ads promised to attract eyeballs and grab attention across both markets at the same levels but only one in five (22 per cent) performed above norms in both markets (Kantar LINK threshold of 70th percentile on impact or cut-through). However, less than half of them were persuasive indicating that the tricks to selling a proposition are indeed different on the opposite sides of Tasman.

The differences stood out for two key measures of success: enjoyment and persuasive ability
We did discount our Demand Power measure because of the differences in mental and physical availability of the brands in their respective markets; thus, the intent was to focus on pure creative quality in terms of moving consumers and getting them to act.

Obviously, what makes Aussies chuckle does not always tickle the Kiwis but beyond that, the fact that reactions to human stories can also be different was a learning in itself. Therefore, ads that manage to drive similar connections with consumers across borders are those powered by a strong idea and that leverage powerful human levers.

Some of the classic examples of good transference across all measures are the beloved Air New Zealand’s Dave, the Goose (a winner in the Kantar Creative Effectiveness Awards ANZ 2023) extolling the benefits of premium economy – a better way to fly; and from Qantas, I’ve been everywhere, showcasing some of the unique destinations across the world or a moment of human connection and forgiveness.

Given that more than 50 per cent of the surface of our brain is dedicated to processing visual information, we will often respond to and understand imagery more strongly than we would text. Our evolutionary instincts naturally draw us to animals, kids, faraway places and these have an effective allure, create positive associations and create desire. Therefore, creating for transference is about building in elements that are visually evocative, light-hearted and fun or leverage provenance and stay authentic to the local identity but purposively reaching out across the borders.

When it comes to enjoying an ad, we are not only governed by our base instincts alone. Values like empathy, optimism and kindness can work when crafted in a simple and real way as seen in Oceania Retirement’s Retirement Living, a Kiwi retirement home ad that receives a warm welcome in Australia as well. And what is not to like; warmth of the family and being surrounded by loved ones has universal appeal. Toyota Yaris Range Australia is loved in Australia and its showcase of the car in the context of sibling rivalry works above norms in New Zealand too.

And when there is a sprinkle of wonder, can we hold back our joy? The most recent Anyone can be Santa from Coca-Cola is all set to make people engage and remember the brand with its many Santas and a message underlying the Christmas cheer! Coca-Cola is not the only one spreading the joy, Aldi’s Kevin is back another year with rhyme and revelry. Kevin and the Christmas Factory 2023 is engaging, enjoyable and has the potential to build the brand across both countries at similar levels (above country norms). The same goes for the Apple 2023 Christmas ad Fuzzy Feelings. And given that these are not ads set to drive sales, we see the maximum uplift on equity for the Aldi’s Kevin creative.

Persuasion is the tough act in the creative game
So predictably, persuasive creatives are in a different league and need more than emotions. In addition to the Air New Zealand and the Qantas creatives, there were very few ads that managed to win over consumers. Mitsubishi Triton’s 2WD GLX-R creates mystery and intrigue around the beast runout (synecdoche – an age-old technique that uses a part to signify the whole) using two kids and through it drives instant meaning, interest and desire across both sides of the Tasman.

Clever meal hacks seem to make the cut with the Sea Lord New Zealand Hoki creative. It was a clever tactic to create ‘dunch’ as a value-add meal hack along with the executional element of interacting with the voiceover as the voice of the brand having a moment with the meal maker. The protagonist adds a dash of humour to the film through his quirky memorable acting. We do see this as a working formula in yet another ad that crossed borders with a similar impact – Mitre 10 (2022). In both cases, the trick lay in creating that situational empathy where the character is out of his comfort zone and the brand helps him win the day and even thrive.

So, what is the key to success when it comes to winning across ANZ?

The task is a lot easier with the use of visual storytelling and photo-realism but not everyone has the budgets for that, especially today. However, there are other pathways to success by creating for transference by:

  1. Being true: real-life moments, peppered with emoting and not acting.
  2. Providing intuitive clarity: that is universal and one way to do that could be the use of synecdoche to deliver instant meaning to the brand or the product offering.
  3. Creating imperfect (human) characters: who drive the story and trigger situational empathy, which can be an advertising shorthand for the journey of the hero.
  4. Building contextual realism: within the setting and framing of the ad – things we all have seen and experienced like never-changing sibling dynamics, human curiosity.
  5. Elevating messaging of optimism and hope: with the festive trimmings as well.

But the real secret sauce lies in being brave, bold at the time of creation and unabashed when it comes to testing the creative for transference. With that message, our AI and I sign off for the year and wishing you and your loved ones all compliments of the festive season. 


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