Friday, November 24, 2017

Another sweet NZ ad

The video above is the Christmas ad for Mitre 10, a New Zealand chain of hardware and home centres (and not to be confused with the Australian company of the same name). This commercial very subtly promotes what the stores sell, and what they’re all about, without any obvious product placement. That sort of subtly is common for NZ television ads, especially at Christmas.

I think the ad is really sweet. It portrays a father who sees his young son’s worry about how Santa will get into their house, he works hard to do something about it, and, essentially, makes his son’s worries disappear. If only life was always as easy as that!

At first blush, especially to foreigners, the music in the background might seem an odd choice. The melody is, of course, We Three Kings, a hymn written for a Christmas pageant, and still associated with the holiday ever since (even though its subject actually makes it an Epiphany song…). However, even this could be a very subtle Kiwi cultural reference.

A New Zealand born comedian, the late John Clarke, created a character called Fred Dagg, who was the quintessential Kiwi farming bloke, and he had his own version of the song. It had the same melody, but these lyrics:
We three Kings of Orient are
One on a tractor, One on a car,
One on a scooter, tooting his hooter,
Following yonder star.

Oh, star a wonder, star a bright
Star a bewdy, she’ll be right,
Star a glory, that’s the story,
Following yonder star
I don’t know for sure that the music choice was an homage to Clarke, who died in April of this year, but I like to think it is. It would be appropriate as a tribute, sure, but also as a wee wink toward Kiwi sarcasm and humour (I know plenty of Kiwis who can sing the Fred Dagg song without needing to think about the lyrics).

Regardless, the commerical is sweet. This time of year, that’s enough.

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