Collection

The Top 10 NZ Television Ads

Curated by NZ On Screen team

Great adverts are strange things: mini works of magic, with the power to make viewers smile, cry, and even buy. Kiwi directors have shown such a knack for making them, they've been invited to do so across the globe. But this collection is about local favourites; dogs on skateboards, choc bar robberies, ghost chips. NZ On Screen's Irene Gardiner backgrounds the top 10 here.

Spot - Telecom

Commercial, 1991–1998 (Full Length)

In the 90s Spot was an acronym for the Services and Products of Telecom, and also a much loved Australian Jack Russell terrier. He starred in 43 different Telecom commercials made between 1991 and 1998 — many of them on an epic scale and seemingly at risk to his life or limb. Special mention should be made of the size of the Yellow Pages shoot, apparently featuring a warehouse full of chefs, couriers and entertainers — and of Spot’s considerable arsenal of tricks from skateboard riding to orchestra conducting. Spot died in Sydney in 2000 at age 13.

Red Blooded - Lion Red

Commercial, 1993 (Full Length)

This boisterous Geoff Dixon-directed commercial dates from the time when craft beer was yet to make a big mark, and Lion Red was NZ's number one beer. Hyperactive in a flannel shirt, a pre-Hercules Michael Hurst takes the mic at a pub talent quest, and sings a war cry for Kiwi blokes against wimpy pretenders like champagne cocktails and Mexican beers. Local advertising veteran Roy Meares wrote the "anti-yuppie commercial" (he was also behind the long-running Speights 'Perfect Woman' campaign). The Murray Grindlay-composed song became a pub anthem.

Bungy Fishing - Instant Kiwi Attitude

Commercial, 1989 (Full Length)

This classic 1989 TV commercial promoted the NZ Lotteries Commission’s new ‘scratch and win’ cards. The goad to gamble was based on the question: “Instant Kiwi attitude: have you got it?” as personified by a bungy-jumping fisherman. From Saatchi & Saatchi’s then-high-flying Wellington office, the promo is iconic of the big budget era of NZ ad making. It was directed by Flying Fish co-founder Lee Tamahori, who also helmed high profile promos for Fernleaf and Steinlager before making his movie directing debut with Once Were Warriors (1994).

Bugger - Toyota Hilux

Commercial, 1999 (Full Length)

A series of farming mishaps each provoke the laconic comment — “bugger”. That was the formula behind one of New Zealand’s most iconic advertisements. Made by Saatchi and Saatchi to follow up the beloved Barry Crump/Lloyd Scott Toyota ads, and directed by Tony Williams, it attracted 120 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (who ruled that “bugger” was unlikely to cause serious offence). The shock value of that word, the role of Hercules the dog, and the performance of the hapless farmer (in the tradition of Fred Dagg and Footrot), made for Kiwi pop culture magic.

Eric the Goldfish

Television, 1992 (Extras)

Eric the Goldfish was the star of a campaign used to promote awareness of the role of broadcasting funding agency NZ On Air (formed in 1989), and to encourage people to pay the broadcasting fee. The campaign used humour and CGI to spread the message, taking the point of view of a pet goldfish watching a family, who are watching TV. Although it attracted attention for its cost, the campaign was rated an "outstanding success" by its funders, and Eric entered popular culture. In 2017 Eric was reincarnated as the name of NZ On Air’s online funding application system. 

Getting to Our Place

Television, 1999 (Excerpts)

This documentary is a view into the crucible that forged museum Te Papa, which opened on Wellington's waterfront in February 1998. Fascinating fly-on-the-wall moments are captured as a new kind of national museum is conceived. This excerpt features a board meeting where Saatchi & Saatchi present branding options. As political, ideological, creative and commercial considerations collide, the frustrations of decision making by committee are palpable: the body language, tears, cautions, grumbles, and finally, smiles, as they settle on the contentious thumbprint logo.

Sunday - Media Women

Television, 1986 (Full Length Episode)

Lindsay Perigo and TV producer Allison Webber have a heated discussion about the portrayal of women in the media in this 1986 current affairs show. Webber says females are sick of being portrayed as sex symbols or tidiness-obsessed housewives. Webber was representing Media Women; the organisation was campaigning for better media coverage, and running its first NZ conference. Also interviewed are Dominion journalist Judy Pehrson, advertising guru Terry Christie, and Mr Wrong director Gaylene Preston (who talks about double standards in casting movie roles).

Guarding the Family Silver

Television, 2005 (Full Length)

In 2002, musician Moana Maniapoto was prevented from using her first name to market herself in Germany because it was copyrighted by someone else. That bewildering experience prompted this award-winning doco made with partner Toby Mills. It explores wider issues of commercial exploitation of 'exotic' indigenous cultures by global companies — a vexed area which Western intellectual property law seems ill-equipped to deal with. There are case studies of the good, the bad and the ugly over usage by brands including Lego, the All Blacks, Ford, Moontide and Playstation.

I Got 2 Babe

Television, 2000 (Full Length)

This TV2 promo is a cover of Sonny and Cher classic ‘I Got You Babe’. A roll call of turn of the century Kiwi celebrities take turns performing, starting with late actor Kevin Smith and actor/sometime Strawpeople singer Stephanie Tauevihi. Other stars include Jay Laga’aia, Havoc and Newsboy, Erika Takacs from band True Bliss, What Now? hosts, Shortland Street's Katrina Devine, and Spike the penguin from Squirt. Also popping by are Bart and Lisa from The Simpsons, and Aussie Portia de Rossi (then appearing on American show Ally McBeal). The promo was made by Saatchi & Saatchi.