Vodafone has played the exotic foreigner role for eons, but it's now entering patriotic territory with the all-out Do Your Thing Better brand campaign, featuring Boy star James Rolleston.
With a hand from DraftFCB, the telco set out to celebrate the fact that New Zealand is a nation of doers (treading fairly close to AMP's long-running Do Your Thing scholarship territory in the process).
Vodafone's chief marketing officer Greg Campbell believes Rolleston "embodies what we are and what we aspire to be", both in relation to the company and the country.
"He's a great guy. He's really professional, positive, optimistic and he looks to the future," he says.
DraftFCB, which conducted in-depth cultural research through Practica a few years back to find out what made Kiwis tick, seems to have a knack of talking in a way New Zealanders can relate to, whether it be work for The Journal, Mitre 10 or Pak 'n' Save. And this skill is obviously a big part of the appeal for companies like Air New Zealand and Vodafone.
David Thomason, planning director at DraftFCB, says this campaign is in keeping with the insights it has gained into New Zealandness – and in the agency's strong belief that mass-market brands need to be communicating with New Zealanders in a way that resonates with them if they hope to succeed. And he thinks Rolleston, who he feels is an example of the "new New Zealand; a raw sophisticate", is a good vehicle to do that – and to get back to "textbook marketing" and focus on the benefits of Vodafone and what its products can lead to.
While the New Zealandness in this campaign, which focuses on the nation's inventive streak and is delivered with a cheeky Kiwi twinkle in the eye, seems more overt than it's ever been before for Vodafone, Campbell says the model is to use the power of the global group but to localise the brand in each market, something it's been doing in New Zealand for 14 years.
"It's all about having a global view and then localising the executions," he says. And in that sense he believes this campaign is right on brand, with 'Do Your Thing Better' linking in with the global 'Power to You' tagline.
When asked whether going down this more patriotic path was a conscious decision to play the Kiwi card and try to snatch back some of the territory that Telecom claims to own and 2degrees has done a good job of stealing in recent years, Campbell says it's pretty much the opposite of that.
"It's a conscious decision to be who we are," he says. "There's no sense in trying to be someone else."
He says the business is a business run by New Zealanders and everyone was involved in the process to figure out what Vodafone stood for. Turning that into good communications and making it real for its consumers was a very methodical process. And the things Vodafone will be bringing to market in the near future will make even more real, he says.
As most in this tech-savvy industry are aware, there has been rapid uptake of smartphone technology in New Zealand, but outside of this marketing bubble, there's still a large chunk of society that wouldn't know an app from their elbow. And, as a result, Campbell says now is a time when the company "really needs to communicate powerfully". And it's decided the best way to do that is to boost its local cred.
This story originally appeared on StopPress