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Freeview's 'fair and free' Monty Python-esque appeal to the masses

Freeview has roped in a familiar face - that of Pio Terei's - to front its new campaign in the final months ahead of the digital switchover.

With just four months to go before the first regions pull the plug on analogue TV signals, Freeview has teamed up with Auckland agency True in a push to capture the 16 percent of homes still to make the leap to digital.

The campaign includes six TV ads to roll out in the coming year, with the slogan "to be fair, it's gotta be free".

“Everything costs money these days.  This campaign takes us back to that place we grew up in, when everything seemed like it was free, from Mum’s hand knitted jerseys to the first hand-me-down car from Dad,” True managing director Matt Dickinson says, who thinks it will appeal to Kiwis' innate sense of fairness and honesty.

While apparently Freeview brand awareness is close to 100 percent, there's a lot of confusion as to what it is, and not many people identify with the brand.

Kim Girbin, Freeview marketing manager, said research identified four key audience segments: the young 'uns, the midlife crowd, the comfortable and the constrained.

True is targeting the older demographic, because they're "high consumers of TV and highly susceptible to advertising messages by TV".  And Dickinson says there'll be another "layer" of communications aimed at the younger and midlife audience, mainly online, with support from radio and print.

Dickinson says they considered a number of well-known Kiwis before settling on Terei to front the Freeview campaign.

In bringing the "New Zealandness" back to the creative, he said they were after a familiar figure that viewers had grown up with, that had broad appeal.

The comedian/presenter appeared on Pete and Pio back in the nineties, and more recently, Intrepid Journeys and Are We There Yet?

"Pio was someone that came through as a really likeable charming person," says Dickinson. "He's done some great stuff with kids and families ... he was brilliant to work with."

Terei was shot on a green screen, with all six spots filmed over two days to keep costs down. Graphics and animation were added at True's internal post-production facility.

The design brief, Dickinson says, was a "modern Monty Python".

"It's quite a forgiving technique becaues you can use illustration, photography, live action," he says.

The next commercial will be centred around MyFreeview and while Dickinson says it was the most complicated to make technically, its message is very straightforward.

"It's going to be quite a simplified way of demonstrating what it does because there a huge amount of confusion around what it is. At the end of the day our target audience just don't understand the proposition of Freeview let alone the proposition of MyFreeview, having the ability  to pause live TV, watch a show while recording another, and so on."

Dickinson also says a common impression is that Freeview is expensive, so "while we didn't want it to feel cheap we needed it to not be too sort of high-brow and unattainable. It's all about accessibility, really".