ASB Bank will be hoping its new ad campaign will mean a happy new life after Goldstein.

Other New Zealand banks have had makeovers in the past year, switching to new ad agencies. But the stakes are highest for ASB, which has enjoyed an 11-year run for the top-rating ad series about Ira Goldstein - the United States banker sent to New Zealand to find out why the ASB is so good.

ASB dumped its long-time ad agency TBWA Whybin and handed its account to Droga 5 - a New York-based agency which only launched here in April.

Bank marketing boss Deborah Simpson will find out on Sunday if the result is an instant hit, with the screening of a new TV ad that reportedly took 16 days to shoot.

There is also a lot at stake for Droga 5, a small network which is marketed intentionally as providing outside-the-square advertising ideas.

The agency partners in New Zealand include Andrew Stone, Jose Alomajan and executive creative director Mike O'Sullivan - some of New Zealand's most experienced admen.

Stone and O'Sullivan had led Saatchi & Saatchi but moved on amid account losses two years ago.

Winning the ASB contract marks their return to the advertising big time - and they will be looking to build on this high-profile brand.


Robyn Malcolm and a handful of Actors' Equity colleagues set off a small round of fireworks at yesterday's Spada discussion: The Hobbit: What Really Happened from a Producers' Perspective.

At the end of the session Equity agent Graham Dunster was critical of the format for the discussion, which ignored actors' views, but Spada said there was no point going over the argument again.

The Spada session was chaired by Media 7 presenter Russell Brown, whose Hard News blogs largely backed Spada's view of events through much of the dispute.

I am told Brown made a good fist of injecting some scepticism into the one-sided discussion.

On the media debate, producers were largely united that coverage of the dispute from Wellington was regarded as okay but Auckland media got the thumbs down - though specific outlets were not named.

There was rousing support for Brown's view that online media had provided the best coverage of the issue - but they would say that, wouldn't they.

Whether you violently agree or disagree with the union stance, it's good that some part of the alternative view was expressed at the Spada meeting. As the complexities are forgotten and history is rewritten, it is a reminder there are two sides to every story.


Up until The Hobbit fiasco - and beyond soft-feature articles - Sir Peter Jackson has kept a relatively low profile in New Zealand media.

His many adoring younger fans might have come to the conclusion his strongly worded criticism of Actors' Equity was completely out of character.

But a 2003 book by Wellington film writer Ian Pryor - published by Random House - reveals that, in the early days at least, Jackson was not shy about holding the media to account.

Funding body the New Zealand Film Commission has also felt his wrath.

The book Peter Jackson: From Prince of Splatter to the Lord of the Rings depicts a complex relationship with the media. Here are some of the historical issues mentioned in a chapter titled "The Political Animal".

* In 1995 Jackson's lawyers issued proceedings against the Listener and Philip Matthews for Matthews' review of The Frighteners - an unusual case of a film director suing a reviewer. In the end Jackson and his partner Frances Walsh did not pursue the matter.

* About the same time Listener journalist Gordon Campbell wrote a story about a delay to filming King Kong and was told Jackson would no longer talk to him, because he had spoken to other sources.

* Jackson also took issue with the Film Commission about numerous matters over the years, including his film Meet The Feebles and an unfunded project called Pink Frost. Pryor's book says that in 1997 Jackson was asked to provide a 500-word item with anecdotes about the 20th birthday of the commission. Jackson wrote a 1800-2000 word attack on the funding body. A different version of the item was subsequently published in Metro magazine.

* In May 2002, Jackson's partner Frances Walsh laid three claims for defamation in the High Court against Listener publisher and then-editor Finlay Macdonald. Journalist Frances Walsh had written an article about the state of the film industry and Jackson's wife said confusion over the names could undermine her in the industry. The case did not proceed but the disagreement had its epilogue with the journalist Walsh being the New Zealand organiser for Actors' Equity during The Hobbit dispute.

Pryor said yesterday: "Peter's relationship with the media is worth a book all of its own.

"He's been brilliant at using the media to generate publicity since the beginning of his movie-making career. But now I worry that some local media are spending more time practising extended dictation than actually analysing what he's saying."


Actors' Equity made such a hash of the dispute the union could do with some rebranding work.

But ad people approached by media had little sympathy for the union, saying its approach had been bad for the industry.

Equity complained about US actor Vincent Gallo being used for the Steinlager Pure advertisement, following Harvey Keitel and Willem Dafoe. It believed Gallo was not famous enough to warrant taking a job from a Kiwi performer. The Government rejected the complaint.


I have dealt with Spada and its predecessor, the Independent Producers' and Directors' Guild, for a long time - right back to the 1980s when Spada was formed from the merger of the IPDG and the TVNZ body the Television Producers' and Directors' Association. Spada represents producers who put together programmes and who run film and television production companies and who work to keep margins up and their businesses viable.

As the largest industry body Spada, the Screen Production and Development Association, is naturally the leader - but it is still a small organisation with a diverse membership.

The one thing that all its members can agree with is to keep regulation down and keep the market open, and the last thing they need is to have unions floating around.

In other countries unions and craft guilds representing directors, writers, actors and technicians have grown in tandem with producers - but here Spada has strenuously resisted closer relations.

Spada excluded the most powerful players - Actors' Equity and the Video Technicians' Guild - from taking part in a seminar about The Jackson-Court review of the NZ Film Commission, marking the increasingly fraught relationship with actors.

As taxpayer funding for film and independent TV production has grown - and politicians have embraced the photo opportunities of appearing with stars - its access to Government has improved.

During the 2000s under Labour, the industry and Spada had an influence far beyond their wildest dreams and money flowed to the sector.

That reached its peak when executive Penelope Borland took over at Spada. When Labour's Steve Maharey was TVNZ shareholding minister, state TV management became used to the Government being aligned with Spada concerns and getting a call from the Beehive to say that producers were not happy.