Slice of life truths about NZers in Vogel’s ad praised

This newcomer to New Zealand, featured in the Vogel's, ad can name every All Black since 1987

A new television and online ad for Vogel’s bread is captivating audiences with its heart-warming life stories from a diverse bunch of Kiwis, rather than overt product promotion. The result is a powerful tool for enhancing positive attitudes in society, says sociologist Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley.

The set of advertisements celebrate Vogel’s 50 years in business in the context of a unique and evolving nation. The ad concept is built around the notion of what we each ‘bring to the table’, with eight strangers sharing their personal stories over a Vogel’s breakfast, to the soundtrack of Chris Knox’s Not Given Lightly.

The group includes a New Zealander of Chinese descent fluent in Te Reo Māori with English as a second language; a father who raised three girls alone; a streaker who evaded capture; a young woman who taught kids in an Iraqi war-zone, a Kenyan-born pharmacist who has lived in New Zealand for 25 years and can name every All Black since 1987, as well as the longest serving extra on Shortland St; a woman whose first language is sign language, and a woman who stood between a harpoon and a whale and crewed the original Rainbow Warrior.

All are authentic participants in an unscripted scene as they exchange life stories around the table, each in some way defying stereotypes based on age, ethnicity, race and gender.

It is the “mini-documentary” format that is so effective in portraying the personal stories of a cross-section of real New Zealanders from a variety of backgrounds, says Professor Spoonley. The timing of the ad is serendipitous, he says, with immigration a hot topic in the lead up to the election in September.

Immigration is often a divisive issue, says Professor Spoonley.  Vogel’s video – designed for manufacturer Goodman Fielder with creative agency Shine and production company Curious Films – counters this as it conveys a message of acceptance, tolerance, respect and connection, he says.

“Migration is about personal stories. It’s easier to demean and stereotype people without knowing their real situation,” he says. “This ad challenges these stereotypes and I think it’s quite a brave thing to do because it is a sensitive issue.”

Immigration expert Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley praises the ad for showcasing NZ's diversity authentically

Vogel’s tells NZ’s bigger story

He applauded the “low-key” feel of the video in showcasing “the bigger story of New Zealand”, commending it as a good example of corporate responsibility in which the company is “actually contributing to an underlying issue in society rather than focusing solely on its product.”

Professor Spoonley, a well-known researcher and commentator on migration, race, population and social trends in New Zealand, was contacted by a marketing company to give his feedback before it went to air, on the basis of his academic background and as a judge for the New Zealand Diversity Awards.

In his feedback, quoted in the media, he says; “The ad is interesting and underlines what I see as some of the key characteristics of the ‘super-diverse’ nature of New Zealand in the 21st century. As New Zealand has evolved into a much more cosmopolitan and diverse country, firms like Vogel’s have also evolved.  

“New Zealand is now one of the most diverse and inclusive countries anywhere in the world. But we can always do better in recognising this diversity,” he says. “This video helps disrupt the way in which we think of people – for instance, who would have thought that Kenyan-born Suresh would be the one to be able to recount every All Black since 1987. It’s important to let people tell their own stories and not impose things on them. Let’s not see someone and then assume that we know what they think or how they are going to act.”

“By world standards, New Zealand is a welcoming and open society. One of the barometers of openness and tolerance is the Asia New Zealand Foundation annual survey which measures the warmth and openness of New Zealanders towards immigrants, in this case, immigrants from Asia. The warmth of New Zealanders towards immigrants is now higher than similar surveys have found in Australia, and considerably higher than similar public surveys report in Europe or the USA. 

The video has had over 30K views on YouTube and garnered strong positive responses from the public across social media, with people saying they have been moved to tears hearing the stories.

Stuff columnist Greer Berry wrote; “This bloody advert melted my heart faster than a knob of butter on a freshly toasted slice of Vogel's.”

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