He epitomises the fun Kiwi joker, now Leigh Hart (aka That Guy) has turned the persona into a lucrative celebrity brand with a new TV show coming and a beer brand that's taking on the corporate giants at their own game.
"The beer is called Wakachangi and it's going off with the younger demographics or traditional beer drinkers," Hart said. "We are serious about providing consumers with great beer, but the branding is based on humour and having fun. We take the piss out of traditional beer marketing."
The lager is, according to the tagline, "a South Otago beer, with North Canterbury flavours, brewed by a West Coaster, with the ol' misty waters of the Waikato - est circa 1648".
"There's hardly a true word on the label," Hart chortles.
"Beer shouldn't be about regions or geographical locations, like 'the Speight's Southern man'. It's an attitude. There's always been so much bullshit associated with beer."
Beer brands such as Moa, he says, don't relate to beer drinkers, but talk instead to investors.
"Moa is struggling to connect to the young male beer drinkers who are turning to RTD bourbon and colas. They have a heap of money behind them; we're grassroots. They are so busy worrying about their marketing and their return to shareholders, they forget about the beer drinker. What's the point in pitching a tent in San Francisco [at the America's Cup]? How are you going to sell beer in New Zealand?" Wakachangi, he says, is authentic to its target market. "It's not a craft beer - I've made a beer that beer drinkers would drink."
The brew was initially released in 2l flagons ($12.99). But from next week it will be available in 12 x 330ml stubbies in crates ($22.99) from bottle stores nationwide and Foodstuffs supermarkets in the South Island.
Hart says the beer brand has the same irreverent humour as his upcoming TV One show, The Late Night Big Breakfast with Jeremy Wells and Jason Hoyt, to screen next year. Filming will take place in the Target furniture store on Dominion Rd. "We couldn't afford a studio," he deadpans.
"Basically we will have the energy of a morning breakfast show at 9.30pm ... There'll be interviews, stories, chats about women's issues discussed by three men." And an opportunity to market his beer. "Oh for sure, we will cross-promote the beer."
Marketing of the brew up to now has largely been through social media, and dropping off the odd box at student parties.
Hart says both the brew and the TVNZ show deliver a unique product to Kiwis that is real and fun. He says it's what we want and he's targeting a gap in the market - he may have a point.
Seven Sharp draws ratings for a youthful approach to current affairs, and Late Night Big Breakfast will deliver irreverent infotainment. It's a lucrative catchment for the network, drawing advertising dollars and popular demographic appeal. TV3 does the comedy and news genres well, but as far as light entertainment news, it's failing to get a look in.
Hart would be happy to send a flagon of Wakachangi to Flower St in consolation.
Lorde plays for music royalty
She's our new queen of pop, but Lorde's imperial status was raised a notch on Monday when her hit
was belted out at Stella McCartney's ready-to-wear show in the ornate Opera Garnier for Paris Fashion Week. Models-of-the-moment Cara Delevingne and Miranda Kerr strutted the catwalk with the designer in tow as the hit song played. Sitting front-row were Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, Texas singer Sharleen Spiteri and actresses Noomi Rapace and Selma Hayek, whose hubby Francois Pinault runs Kering (formerly PPR), part-owner of the Stella McCartney brand.
A surreptitious affair
While San Francisco was awash with patriotic fervour, a well-heeled Kiwi pair were making partisan waves of their own that left some visiting members of Auckland society tittering into their pinot grigio. Playing house in San Fran, the high-flyer and the woman had hoped to keep their very new, very clandestine love match away from prying eyes and vicious tongues, but to no avail. Mind you, their juvenile pawing of each other on their flight did little to thwart the chitchat, especially with a certain Rich Lister sitting nearby.
Sainso's media comeback
They were once household names in television current affairs, but this week Amanda Millar and Mark Sainsbury popped up as contributing panellists on RadioLive. They are two of a number of names that the station draws on for Sean Plunket's show.
It's a bit of a drop in profile and status for the Close Up host, but Sainso is philosophical.
He told The Diary this week that he contributes "on a couple of panels ... [and does] some commercial work, and MCing".
He donates his time to Diabetes NZ, and is keen, too, to get his long-dreamed-of TV project off the ground.
"I'm still chasing up the car show," he said. "I reckon it's a no-brainer, but you need to convince the network executives, you know."
Wrong talk on stork
Kiwi actor Daniel Gillies (
), who called Invercargill and Hamilton home before moving to Hollywood, is celebrating fatherhood. His actress wife Rachael Leigh Cook welcomed their first child this week - a daughter. "The tiny new empress of my everything. She's immaculate. We're delirious," Gillies tweeted fans on
. Though, evidently Britain's
website hadn't caught up with the news, reporting, "The celebrity couple are now the proud parents of a son". Oh dear. The error can still be viewed.
Prodigal son Duncan Garner boomeranged back to
on Saturday, prompting inside chatter his return to TV3's political current affairs show may be more permanent with host Rachel Smalley now aligned with rival media company The Radio Network.
Smalley resigned from TV3 in August to host an early-bird programme on Newstalk ZB, owned by TRN. A start date for her show has been pushed back, her boss told The Diary. However, Smalley still hosts The Nation, which is produced by Richard Harman's Front Page Productions for TV3. Harman says he hasn't had any discussions with the network about the show next year.