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Speaking to Kiwis in our new normal

Man in mask

Kiwis have felt a tangle of fear and optimism for much of 2020, as we take steps forward, then a few back, in the battle against coronavirus. 

In a nutshell

  1. How should marketers approach the conversation in New Zealand right now?
  2. Be part of the Team of 5 million and demonstrate how you're putting people's safety ahead of profits.
  3. Help Kiwis remember - and hope for - better times (with a dash of humour, if it's in your personality)

The new community outbreak has naturally seen fear rise – but all in all, we remain mostly optimistic. Aucklanders have shifted into their second lockdown with speed and resilience. This indicates that Kiwis are adjusting, beginning to see how flexing between lockdown levels could be part of our lives. 

How should marketers approach the conversation right now? We looked to Radar - our partner Zavy's evolution of our COVID-19 Conversation Monitor, and found some key considerations to keep in mind:

1. We're all in this together

Even as it verges on cliché, the "Team of 5 million" spirit is alive and well in Kiwi conversation. 

Last week’s Lotto draw exemplified this with many commenters asking Lotto to split a $50 million jackpot between fifty families:

“Hopefully 50 families or more win and it spreads out to many families and people that need it”, one noted, while another commented, “I’d happily share it with multiple people. I’d be happy to win enough to be mortgage free…looking at today’s world that would be massive in itself”.

Brands joining the conversation effectively are showing that they’re also part of the team and are putting people’s safety ahead of profits. For example, Countdown shut their stores early last Tuesday night to protect staff and dissuade people from panic-buying, with their General Manager saying:

"We're going to put limits on the food that we knew flew out the door so that we can make sure everybody gets some. Again, not because we have an issue with supply, but because we need to manage the demand and make sure Kiwis shop properly and do the right thing. The only thing I'm really worried about is that my poor team's morale and resilience is tough, I'm really hoping that people are kind again."

By demonstrating that their first priority is to help their customers and employees, and showing gratitude to them, Countdown is signalling that they are putting people first – in an effort to be remembered for doing the right thing. 

2. Remembering - and hoping for - good times

Right now, New Zealanders are drawn to brands that offer a hopeful outlook (have you bought a Lotto ticket recently?) and those that help us remember better times. The country’s handling of the coronavirus crisis drives optimism. The community outbreak, fear of a second wave and a longer lockdown makes us fearful. 

For example, the revamped Kiwiburger jingle is resonating with New Zealanders feeling that tangle of optimism and fear. The jingle makes us feel like Kiwis, and reminds us of how funny, unique and open minded we are. Better still, the ad is funny: it helps ease tensions and gives an emotional boost.

3. If you're known to be funny, be funny (but do it right)

New Zealanders love and value humour. It’s one of our Cultural Codes, a core coping mechanism that helps us diffuse tension and conflict. It’s no surprise that brands that can deploy humour with nuance and sensitivity are well received during a crisis. 

Take Pak n’Save, using Stickman to show people how to shop safely with social distancing, for example. Or – and although he’s not a brand – the popularity of comedian Chris Parker’s Instagram videos poking gentle fun at Kiwis navigating lockdown. It’s about sticking to your brand character and being funny in an inclusive way that makes us feel resilient.

Want to learn more? Sign up for a trial of Radar by Zavy.  

headshot of Carl Sarney, Head of Strategy at TRA
Carl Sarney
Head of Strategy at TRA
Carl has 20 years of insight industry experience. He is specialised in brand and comms strategy with a proven history of effective work for his clients, including several gold awards for advertising effectiveness. His research work has taken him to just about every town in New Zealand to speak with people from all walks of life. He's also conducted qualitative research in eight more countries while based in London for two years and spent seven years as an ad agency planner before joining TRA in 2018.

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