Telecommunications company 2degrees has kicked off the Christmas advertising season with a high-budget campaign aiming to right some of the wrongs of 2020.
Featuring a remake of Bonnie Tyler's power ballad "Holding out for a hero", the TV version of the ad adapts the lyrics into a light-hearted song that pokes fun at the weird year that saw much of the nation confined to their homes for months.
The aim of the ad, developed by agency TBWA, is to encourage Kiwis to submit their stories on the 2 degrees website, explaining how 2020 wronged them. This might be a missed birthday party, a family reunion that never happened or a delay in newborns meeting grandparents.
The telco will select a collection of stories and then go about doing its part to correct them.
The idea for the campaign has been built on a 2degrees study revealing that more than 70 per cent of Kiwis missed out on celebrating a big moment due to Covid-19.
"We know there's a bunch of things we can't fix, but we're determined to help leave 2020 on a high in our own way and remind Kiwis of the surprisingly good things this year brought us," says 2degrees chief of brand and insights Ben Wheeler.
Wheeler wouldn't disclose how much 2degrees was spending on the campaign, but did confirm that it would be one of the company's biggest marketing pushes of the year.
"The amount we spend writing the wrongs of 2020 will depend on the stories that come through, what people have missed out on and how we can help turn their year around," Wheeler said.
"We're trying to be as open-minded as possible so we can really find some deserving, wonderful winners and spread as much love as possible."
The lead-up to Christmas is usually critical in the marketing calendar, with major brands competing fiercely to get in front of consumers who tend to go on a big splurge during the festive season.
Some brands treat Christmas advertising as an art form, creating the expectation that something big will hit screens every year.
There is perhaps no brand better at this than UK department store John Lewis, which has in recent years entertained audiences with epic animated stories that are almost certain to provoke some misty eyes.
The Christmas advertising period will take on added importance this year, given how hard the sector has been hit around the world.
Ad spend research from SMI shows that advertising spend levels dropped significantly in the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand between April and June this year.
There has been some recovery since the figures bottomed out but we still aren't on par with levels reached a year ago.
SMI data released in early November showed that forward advertising bookings indicate that advertisers still intend to make a big end-of-year splash in spite of what has been such a tough year for the industry.
SMI managing director Jane Ractliffe said the value of advertising booked through November is equal to 72 per cent of last November's total – on par with the level of forward bookings you'd normally see at this point into the cycle prior to the impact of Covid-19.
"Already we can some key product categories delivering higher media investment in November, with the Food/Produce/Dairy category leading the market with growth of 7.7 per cent, while non- alcoholic beverage ad spend is already 5.5 per cent higher in November than the same month a year ago and insurance advertising has lifted 0.5 per cent,'' she said.
The jump in advertising is also set to stretch into December, with forward bookings in at just over half the value of last December's ad spend – marking a higher level of demand than what you'd normally see at this stage.
The increase in spend will, however, not be enough to undo the hit of the first nine months of the year, with the year still lagging 18.9 per cent when compared to levels seen last year.