It’s been a tough old time in the building biz of late. Homes have been leaking, consents have been dropping and the Christchurch rebuild is taking longer than expected to kick into action. But there is some optimism afoot this year and PlaceMakers is aiming to assert its position as the go-to trade supplier in New Zealand with its first brand campaign for a few years and a major sponsorship of the Super Rugby competition.
Dreamed up by JWT and shot by Exposure’s Kevin Denholm over 10-11 days, the series of ads that JWT’s managing director Simon Lendrum hopes will have enough appeal to run for 18 months focuses on a home being built in Huntly—and on the team that brings the house together, including PlaceMakers.
In almost Attenborough-esque fashion, Lendrum says the goal was to capture the salt of the Earth builders and tradesmen in their natural habitat, “which is when they’re at their best”. And there’s certainly plenty of ‘talent’ on display in the ads, even though there are no scripts or actors involved. This gives the campaign, which will be rolled out over the next few weeks, a good whack of authenticity and, as it’s unashamedly trade focused, the cheeky on-site banter and self-deprecating humour feels like it will resonate well with the target audience.
Lendrum says PlaceMakers’ has been more focused on retail in the past few years, but, unlike its largely price-focused competitors like Bunnings and Mitre 10, this campaign focuses on the customer, promotes industry values and highlights the importance of quality workmanship and product, something that’s captured in the new tagline ‘Together, we’re building New Zealand’.
“PlaceMakers isn’t about selling cheap hammers,” he says.
Chief executive John Beveridge says PlaceMakers, which is the retail trading arm of Fletcher Building, is positioning itself for anticipated industry growth and it’s “focused on strengthening our position as the leading and largest building supplies partner to the trade in New Zealand”.
“It was important we put a stake in the ground as first and foremost for the trade,” he says. “… We want our customers to know who we are and what we stand for: we value people, we’ve got the knowledge and we’re great and reliable on the job.”
He says a researcher from the US was brought out to get insights into some of the language and behaviour on display on a typical Kiwi building site and that information fed directly into the creative.
“We didn’t want some actor from Australia,” he says. “We wanted real New Zealand builders and we wanted to show we understand what some of that banter on the site leads to: great houses.”
The building industry certainly has a few perception issues at the moment, with ongoing tales of shonky practices and financial mismanagement, so he says the campaign is also about trying to improve the public’s view of the industry by showing there are a core group of builders in New Zealand who firmly believe in craftsmanship and quality. And, with a housing shortage looming in Auckland and the Christchurch rebuild around the corner, he hopes it will also help to attract more young Kiwis and migrants into the trade to reduce the shortage that will soon exist.
Tradies are renowned for enjoying their sport—and particularly a bit of code—so in an effort to increase activation, PlaceMakers announced its sponsorship of the New Zealand Super Rugby teams in January. It is also the official broadcast sponsor for SKY’s coverage of the Investec Super Rugby competition, so it’s obviously a good platform on which to blast the new trade-focused campaign.
“Last year was an unforgettable year for rugby, and as a proudly New Zealand company, we’re really happy to be supporting the national game,” he says. “Rugby builds excitement, camaraderie and competition across the regions like no other sport, and we are looking forward to being part of that.”
The company also sponsors rally driver and PWRC World Champion Hayden Paddon, the Master Builders’ House of the Year competition, a new fishing programme, Big Angry Fish, which airs on TV3 in April, and the ONE News sports segments, which Beveridge says helped set the tone for the new brand campaign.