Telecom NZ 'no sex' ad lets down NZ

Summary:No doubt you will have heard how Telecom New Zealand made itself and the country a global laughing stock with its 'no sex' campaign for the Rugby World Cup.

No doubt you will have heard how Telecom New Zealand made itself and the country a global laughing stock with its "no sex" campaign for the Rugby World Cup.

Fortunately, after the uproar, the company dumped the campaign.

It wouldn't be so bad if the ad was actually funny, but what Telecom's admen failed to realise is that incumbent monopoly telcos have a special place in the hearts of their nation.

This, coupled with the ridicule of New Zealand's national religion (rugby), is why the ad got it all wrong.

Telecom New Zealand is part of the social fabric of New Zealand, part of the family furniture, and despite its privatisation decades ago, is still considered by many to be part of the "family silver".

Every Kiwi family still feels a sense of ownership to this large corporate. Telecom is part of the family so its campaigns should appeal to all of the family, kids included. Furthermore, Telecom not only represents itself, but the entire country.

So it is with similar incumbent monopoly telcos like Telstra and British Telecom, which are also part of their own country's social fabric.

In the 1970s, we saw British Telecom (BT) use a bird character, Buzby to advertise its products. Then, in the 1980s, we saw actress Maureen Lipman play Jewish grandmother Beattie in a much-loved series of ads.

More recently, BT delivered a soap-style series with a modern "blended" family, which finished with a happy ending of a wedding and new baby!

In the 1980s, Telecom New Zealand created Spot the Dog to advertise the "Services and Products Of Telecom", hence Spot.

He earned himself a tribute when he died.

Next came TV commercials featuring cute and cuddly animals, with the meerkats one being a popular favourite.

And then we have Telstra, whose "I am Australian" ad shows a proud company and country.

Again, all these ads feature warm fuzzies, or in Telstra's case, reflect the country through its people and a sense of patriotism. Such ads are not offensive and actually tell you about a telco's products or services.

Former All Black Sean Fitzpatrick may be a god for many, but he has blundered and looks stupid in this unfunny ad that doesn't even mention one product or service of Telecom.

Surely, the point of advertising is to say what you do and present a positive image of your company and its products? And for incumbent monopoly telcos, reflect on your country.

The Rugby World Cup is supposed to bring Kiwis together. Telecom's cup commercials could feature kids on buses watching the matches with their smartphones, commuters could be watching the games on a train huddled around a businessman's laptop, people could be watching the matches at the beach, by a river or up a mountain. What better way to advertise mobile internet?

All Blacks could be shown visiting schools, showing how the ultra-fast broadband is being rolled out. And we could be shown what Telecom is doing at the Cup venues to enable successful communications for all.

Well, now that Telecom has apologised for its advertising blunder, may I suggest that CEO Dr Paul Reynolds gets his waders out and goes fishing again, as he did last year when he tried to convince us all that the troubled XT network would work in the most isolated of places.

Only this time, the video should show him watching the game on his device.

There you go — who needs Saatchi & Saatchi?

Topics: Networking, NBN, New Zealand, Telcos


Darren Greenwood has been in journalism, not all of it IT, since the days of typewriters and long before the web spun its way around the world.Coming from Yorkshire, he can be blunt, and though having resided in New Zealand, as well as Australia, for quite some time, he insists he is not one of the 'sheeple!'

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