The price of polo

As keen polo-goers start hunting down their glad rags for the day, ponies from around New Zealand are being transported to Clevedon polo grounds in Auckland in preparation for the 2016 Land Rover NZ Polo Open.

This year's tournament has 38 teams of four competing, meaning more than 600 ponies are required to play.

The cost of transporting so many ponies to one event is significant, but Open executive director Simon Wilson says financial gain is not a factor, with the tournament winner receiving the Polo Open trophy rather than prize money. Individual players are paid by their teams.

It is certainly not a cheap sport, with serious players needing at least four ponies and each pony costing from a few thousand to $30,000 or $40,000 for a good pony and up to the million mark for some of the best.


But according to Wilson the ponies are the main component to the sport.

"General agreement worldwide is that 80 per cent of the equation to be successful in such a high-end sport is your pony, so with over 600 ponies playing and each needing caring and feed plus transport, the figure each player and team takes on to participate in our event is a lot."

Despite the cost and effort behind the scenes, the Open has grown in popularity over the past eight years, with Wilson expecting between 6000 and 7000 people to attend the event on February 21.

The event turns over more than a million dollars on the day with sponsorship, hospitality and activities alone.

Guests will be looking forward to the annual fashion on the field show and the car versus pony race -- promised to have an exciting twist this year. For the players, however, the focus will be on winning the prestigious event, and with settled February weather on the cards it is set to be a key event in this year's summer calendar.

• Tickets can be purchased online from iTicket.

Media mingle

NZME's new premises played host to some of the country's largest media agencies last week, giving the media and entertainment company a chance to showcase the integrated building and its capabilities.

Representatives from the likes of Ogilvy & Mather New Zealand, Clemenger BBDO, Carat and Starcom NZ attended, with networking starting with champagne and canapes in an outdoor area, and entertainment by singer Jamie McDell.

Guests were then treated to a three-course dinner paired with wine in the company's iHeart lounge.

The intimate group of about 50 guests was entertained over dinner with a performance by Dave Dobbyn and the visitors were shown around NZME's newsroom, which houses the Herald, Newstalk ZB, Radio Sport and GrabOne.

The head of agency sales at NZME, Donna Gurney, said the event was a good chance to reflect on a great year and the one ahead. "It was a real treat of a night, to say thank you to our key media agency partners for their support in 2015 and looking forward to a great 2016 working together," she said. "And it was also a different and exciting way for us to showcase the new integrated NZME building and the capabilities that we can offer."

Happy endings

In one of the more suggestive ad campaigns to stop people driving drunk, Auckland Transport has released Happy Ending vouchers that drivers can use to show their partners they haven't been drinking, with the campaign stating the happy ending reward is "solely at your discretion".

The innovative litmus test on each card colours up depending on how much alcohol is in a person's system.

The user licks the litmus paper, which changes colour if alcohol is detected from light blue at about 0.02 per cent blood alcohol through to dark blue at about 0.30 per cent -- the idea being that the user can cash in the voucher only if the litmus does not change colour, indicating no alcohol.

The campaign is targeting 25- to 39-year-olds and despite concern that the suggestive campaign may be taken as offensive by users, feedback on social media has been positive so far, with users commending Auckland Transport on the ad and keen to try out the test.

The ad comes off the back of several other campaigns that are going for a more humorous or quirky way to stop people from drink driving, compared with the shock tactics seen in some other anti-drink-driving ads.

Heineken's latest "moderate drinkers wanted" and FCB's "Not Beersies" campaigns are two other examples of more positive messages towards responsible drinking.