Who said Kiwis weren't a cultured bunch? One of local broadcasting's bastions of refinement, the Arts Channel, says it has notched up a subscriber base of 12,000 three years after its launch.
The channel, an independently run initiative broadcast over the Sky TV network, says it hopes to increase subscriber numbers by another 50 per cent through a more aggressive marketing strategy, which will include online and direct marketing.
It also hopes to win more viewers by expanding its programming line-up, placing less emphasis on "high art" and more focus on mass-appeal topics such as jazz and contemporary dance.
Programmes on the channel's present schedule include documentaries about artists such as Francis Bacon as well as movie stars like Cary Grant.
The channel's subscriber base represents a little over 2 per cent of the 530,000 Sky residential digital subscribers who could potentially access the channel.
This may seem a low percentage, but given it costs $12.77 a month on top of a Sky subscription to access the broadcast, that's not a bad collective investment in things arty. Helen Clark must be proud.
Bond ad survives
Another week, another complaint about a Bond & Bond ad gets rejected by the Advertising Standards Authority's complaints board.
Erin Brockovich, the American consumer campaigner turned part-time frontwoman for Bond's sister chain, Noel Leeming, popularised the new national sport of Bond bashing when she made front page news last month for chastising the two chains' parent company over what she said was a sexist Bonds ad comparing women with fridges.
Although the ASA hasn't delivered any judgment on that particular ad, it has ruled on six others from Bonds over the past month, none of which it found to be in breach of advertising standards.
The latest ruling, released this week, found there were no grounds to proceed with a complaint about a Bond brochure that declared: "Out with the old. In with the new. Watch out Grandma."
The complainants claimed this type of advertising copy was offensive to aged women, suggesting they were objects to be discarded and was socially irresponsible as it "strengthens the discriminatory practices that abound against this minority group".
The authority said this ad was similar to another it ruled was acceptable earlier in the month: "Home delivery - good for those with chronic fatigue syndrome."
Both ads "used light-hearted humour in an acceptable manner which did not meet the threshold to be said to make fun of people with any disease or disability", the board said.
Andrew Dutkiewicz, chief executive of parent company Noel Leeming Group, has described the Bond ad strategy as "irreverent and cheeky and the intent always is to make people laugh, not offend". The last part may need some refinement. Bond has been generating more work for the ASA lately than any other advertiser.
Drawing a blank
Those offended by the Bond & Bond style of advertising are not alone in failing to get any traction with the Advertising Standards Authority's complaints board. Of 14 decisions handed down by the authority this week, not a single one was upheld.
Here are some of the other ads featured in the latest crop of complaints rejected:
* The Vodafone TV ad that says: "If you don't have boobs you can just go and buy a pair."
* A TV ad for male potency drug Cialis aired during the 6pm news hour.
* An Anchor Milk ad featuring All Black Leon MacDonald drinking Anchor milk (shock, horror) straight out of the bottle.
* The Primo ad where bikini-clad women bounce through a carpark on moonhoppers.
The authority's job is to enforce the Advertising Codes of Practice to which advertisers voluntarily agree to apply.
The codes are meant to uphold "generally prevailing community standards" of decency, which is always going to be a subjective call.
This week's 14-0 whitewash against the prudes shouldn't leave readers with the impression the authority is some sort of ad industry lapdog. It certainly does uphold complaints.
A recent high-profile example of ads being taken off air as a result of a successful complaint were Burger King's commercials featuring women in bikinis.
It's very easy for anyone to lodge a complaint (they can be registered online through the authority's website) and the board releases a decision for every complaint it receives, so it's not surprising a high proportion are rejected.
E-marketing agency Proximity iD is taking a punt on virtual gaming and it looks like a good bet for attracting web viewers in a sports-mad nation.
Proximity iD has several years of experience building successful campaigns around online virtual community games such as Telecom's Virtual Rugby competitions which have attracted more than 100,000 players. Now the agency has launched a subsidiary operation, Jimungo, which will specialise in the creation of these "interest-centric" internet communities.
Jimungo's first new venture can be found at www.JimungoCupDay.com and is a clever distraction put together with the Auckland Racing Club aimed at getting web users to do even less work next Tuesday, Melbourne Cup day.
Users can have a "virtual flutter" on the big race plus take a punt on two other races being run at Ellerslie on the same day.
The ARC's involvement in the Jimungo initiative is the latest example of how the once-staid racing club has been embracing innovative advertising and marketing initiatives since the arrival of hot-shot chief executive Chris Weaver in 2004.
Weaver has been working hard to make racing cool again - in the eyes of punters and sponsors.
He's had help along the way from a marketing industry veteran, Bill Gianotti, who is chairman of the ARC and founder of Proximity iD parent company Aim Proximity.
The club's promotional strategy has included a focus on getting more young people along to race meetings with initiatives such as its youth-focused Whips'n'Spurs social events promoted through email marketing by Proximity iD.
Overall the ARC's marketing efforts are beginning to pay off. According to the ARC's annual result, released last week, sponsorship and grant income increased by $366,000 during the past year.By Simon Hendery Email Simon