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Appealing to the 'Kiwi mindset' a dead-end for creatives

Advertisers need to let go of the concept of a common “Kiwi mindset” if they want to connect businesses with their audiences, reckons journalist and media commentator Russell Brown.

Brown is curating Auckland Museum’s October LATE event Life on the Margins: Otherness in New Zealand (click here to win tickets), which will look at shifting attitudes among New Zealanders who remain marginalised in today’s society and the experience of being outside the “norm”.

He says anyone hankering for New Zealand’s "golden" era needs to read Bill Pearson’s 1952 essay Fretful Sleepers, which shows prosperity was matched with a society that was “creatively shut down” and craved conformity.

“We might have been economically prosperous but there was also a creative void. We’re far more tolerant, far more open now, and there isn’t necessarily a single sort of Kiwi mentality. I've read and written a good deal about national identity and I do think we're no longer a monolithic entity.

“At the moment we’re seeing various advertisers making targeted ads to run on Maori TV [during the RWC games]. It’s encouraging to see targeted creative in campaigns that seem to recognise they are speaking to a series of different markets and audiences.”

Brown says broad campaigns like the Toyota ads that harness a national myth and speak to all New Zealanders can work "as long as we all appreciate the ads are working with myths and not data".

Despite positive shifts toward a more tolerant society, he says New Zealand still has a lot of scope for improvement – something LATE panelists Phillip Patston, David Cohen, Stacey Kerapa Huata and Jacinda Ardern will discuss.

“A lot of people know Phillip [Patston] principally as a comedian but he is also working at quite a high level as a diversity consultant, coaching companies to work with diversity and disability and to capture the skills that are being overlooked.

“It’s an area where New Zealand really falls short and something, as a father of two boys on the autism spectrum, that stands out as a problem not just for individuals or families with disability but for the businesses that have no idea how to relate to them.

“There seems to be very little public support for employers making their companies more disability friendly.”

LIFE ON THE MARGINS: OTHERNESS IN NEW ZEALAND
Thursday, October 6. Doors open 6.30pm
LATE at the Museum

Russell Brown will discuss the issue with guest panelists:
Philip Patston
As a gay, disabled, vegetarian, Philip Patston might sound like the punchline to a joke about Grey Lynn. Indeed, it's a joke he might tell about himself in his sometime role as a stand-up comic and entertainer. But he's also the founder of DiversityWorks, a consulting business that creates innovative ways to work with diversity, creativity and change. He is an alumnus of both the New Zealand Social Entrepreneur Fellowship (2007-09) and the Arts Regional Trust ArtVenture programme for creative entrepreneurs (2007).
David Cohen
David is a journalist and the author of two books about growing up different – Little Criminals, his own story of life on the wrong side of the tracks in a boys' home, and A Perfect World, a moving account of being father to his profoundly autistic son.
Stacey Kerapa Huata
Stacey came to Auckland as a 13 year-old and found a home and a family on Karangahape Road when no one else wanted to know. She subsequently completed a Bachelor of Social Practice at Unitec and now works as an advocate for victims of domestic violence.
Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Ardern entered Parliament in 2009 as New Zealand's young MP, aged 28. She is now the Labour Party's candidate for Auckland Central and the party's Youth Affairs spokesperson. This year, she described record youth unemployment as having reached "crisis point" for New Zealand. And Business New Zealand agreed with her.

After the panel, a live performance created for LATE at the Museum will bring to life the history of Auckland's dynasty of drag, featuring Tess Tickle and Buckwheat. Witness the transformation of Edward Cowley and Anthony Hotere into their drag personas Buckwheat and Tess Tickle and hear their stories of how they began and the larger-than-life figures that took them under their wing.

Christoph El Truento, the young DJ-producer behind the remarkable @peace recording project, will perform alongside guests Miso, B.Haru, Isaac Aesili and Lui T in a live improvised jam session with laptops, drum machines, turntables, synthesizers, live horns and percussion to take LATE guests on a journey through experimental hip hop music, tones and textures.