Colenso's explosively good time

You’d really have to have been living under a rock not to notice that there’s a new TV series coming called The Pacific. (Cheap rent, rocks, but not very warm in winter.)

Especially if you were in Auckland’s Mission Bay yesterday, as mock explosions went off and a dogfight was staged in front of a happy crowd.

It’s Colenso BBDO’s latest gig to push the TV show, which is touted as potentially appealing to those who watched Band of Brothers.

The show tells the tale of US Marines who fought in the Pacific during WWII.

The Colenso campaign takes the angle of bringing to life real stories of what it was like to be one of those soldiers.

Part of the campaign has involved a nifty DM aspect, sending out authentic-looking letters to households in Auckland and Wellington. (Click here, here and here to read a sample letter.)

The letters are real – as in, the text is real – and reproduced to look like the real thing, complete with cross-outs and spellos.

Colenso staffers sourced the originals of the letters via places such as eBay, buying them up and using the text for the DM aspect of the campaign.

There’s also a range of Adshels around the place with a showcase of the letters, and a 20-metre wall in Symonds Street that’s covered with the letters. Punters can read them and remove them as keepsakes, which means Colenso staff have been busy replacing them as they disappear.

The website, developed by AIM Proximity, boasts an interactive element where people can post their family stories.

The show’s trailer has also been running in cinemas.

Finally, the big kahuna happened yesterday at Mission Bay as planes flew in and explosives were let off from a barge, amid mock gunfire, to give bystanders an idea of what it would be like to be in the middle of the furore.

Sharp-eyed folk at the beach would’ve also seen an array of war-relic jeeps and paraphernalia, kindly put on display for the public by a history club.

The central tagline is “Millions of real stories. One epic storyteller”.

Colenso and TVNZ have gotten good mileage out of the campaign, including stacks of TV coverage.

Why such an uber-fuss over this TV series? TVNZ says it’s had a long lead time for this – in fact the blowing-stuff-up part has been in the planning stages for a couple of months – so the time and opportunity has been there to slow-roast some adverveggies.

There aren’t too many eye-catching campaigns around at the moment, so in spite of some disgruntled ad folk throwing tomatoes at Colenso for the luxury of being given client licence to blow stuff up in the name of advertising, we’ll chalk this one up to success.

Just recently Mark D’Arcy, CCO at Time Inc in New York, remarked that he hadn’t seen much in terms of big brand campaigns during his visit back here. I’m inclined to agree. Seems every time you turn the telly on, you’re yelled at by Carpet Court. It's enough to make you want to unplug the appliance and take to it with a hammer.

Where have all the big brand campaigns gone? Holy snuffballs, Batman!

Partly they’ve decided to migrate to where the eyeballs are. Online ad spend is up and everything else is suffering, so that’s perhaps a big sign we’re moving away from the hallowed 30-second TVC and trying to target people on Te Interweb.

But doesn’t it give everyone the willies? I wonder where we’ll be in another year’s time. Still being yelled at by Carpet Court? Heaven forbid.

Thankfully this week we have new work for ANZ and Pascall’s coming out, which softens the blow somewhat. Stay tuned for more.

Check out the action:

"Hi love, it's me. Just flying home. Fancy a roast tonight?"

"Rocky! I reckon I can see a few snapper down there!" "Mike! You beauty!"

All it needs to say, really.

Probably not the most appropriate salute, considering we're talking about WWII.

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6 Comments & Questions

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Both my elderly parents were upset about the letter, which they took to be real – they were concerned about whether the letter should have been made public. Luckily, their cynical daughter was able to point out that it was unlikely then or now that an 18-year-old soldier boy would write a letter to his mother in the sleepy hollows of America detailing how he got his injuries. Particularly when every military letter was censored (so the sending address would have been censored too - why didn't the ad people know this? Didn't they study this war at school?)
This is right up there with the Aucklander last year publishing letters from wartime and only admitting at the end their own staff had written them and 'imagined' the war. Any number of real letters exist. Couldn't the ad guys have used one? Should they have when there are still vets around from that campaign?

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Did you even read the article? The letters are real. The text is real.

"The letters are real – as in, the text is real – and reproduced to look like the real thing, complete with cross-outs and spellos."

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I think the campaign promoting this series has been FANTASTIC and the letters a masterstroke - powerful and extremely moving like the series itself promises to be.

Having watched Band of Brothers over the past couple of months (missed it the first time round) I am really looking foward to this one.

Let's give credit where its due - this is great work by Colenso and TVNZ.

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anyone notice the error in the letters.. the letter was dated june or july yet the postage "stamp" was marked april....

have to say the airshow was a dissapoinment... goes to show that you can get aucklanders out and about which bodes well for the RWC next year provided we get a decent theme song between now and then... oh wait..

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Go hug a tree and get over it.

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Loved the letter. Best unaddressed mail piece (ie - it's not a DM) in ages.

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