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paul courtney

Updated 05 May 2020

The New Zealand advertising industry sees global opportunity as the country emerges from coronavirus lockdown with fewer restrictions than the rest of the world.

The country is now on a level two alert with businesses opening to customers if they can do it safely.

Paul Courtney, COO of Colenso BBDO, says this means NZ is attractive as the remote creative centre for the rest of the world.

“Brands can continue to partner with some of the world’s best creative and strategic talent, who happen to be based in Auckland,” he told AdNews.

“So, whilst the majority of the world is still in lockdown, we can produce and shoot, create and connect with a brand’s customers, and deliver creative solutions to suit their most pressing business needs.

“Several agencies are announcing their studios business – a direct-to-client production hub – now.

“We’ve had this in place for over three years and, since Level 2, it’s become a welcome, efficient and effective resource for clients to tap into.”

He believes the industry’s creative output will get better, stronger and more focused now.

“This challenge / opportunity has provided us with an even closer link between real and digital world experiences,” he says.

“There are still so many huge problems that creative minds can solve, and that excites us.”

Courtney says the NZ ad industry stayed open in lockdown but this feels like a re-opening.

“For the industry, it means that we can take what we’ve liked from being in lockdown – the rapid adoption of technology, new workflows and remote working – and leave the rest,” he says.

“We can continue to be meaningful to our clients and their customers, solving the newfound challenges caused by a global pandemic and the impending problems as we approach a widespread economic recession with the best weapon in our arsenal – creativity.”

Courtney says lockdown was tough.

“If it was easy, it would be boring,” he says.

“But I feel like in New Zealand, there’s a real sense of optimism. You can see that right from the top with the government’s Unite Against messaging, all the way through to how quickly and effectively our country has responded to this crisis.

“And whilst we’ve seen some clients press pause, several have actually increased their spend – realising that now is the time to make their brand even more meaningful to New Zealanders.

“But this is just the start. Next comes recovery. And there are clusters of creative minds remote working their way around the North Island of New Zealand, creative minds who are ready to keep moving our industry forwards.”

Colenso BBDO is working with clients to contextualise what the cultural and behavioural changes mean to their business.

“But the fundamentals of what we do haven’t changed,” he says. “From the outside, we may look a little different. A little leaner. A little more agile. And we want to use that to our clients’ advantage – because now is the time where we need to be more relevant and memorable than ever.”