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Mobile telephone network ‘2degrees’ launched in New Zealand three years ago with kiwi comedian Rhys Darby as the face of the brand. It was probably the best decision they could have made. In 2012 his ads are still going strong and still hilarious.

Lots of people know Rhys from his role in the Flight of the Conchords’ series on HBO. Like in his stand-up, FotC character Murray Hewitt uses a great high-pitched New Zealand accent as he makes jokes about kiwis and the NZ way of life. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – and Rhys sticks to his winning formula in the ads for 2degrees, which feature him as an hilariously oddball (yet somehow “everyman”) kiwi bloke. Like Murray, his 2degrees persona is wacky, lovable and clueless.

2degrees wants to keep New Zealand talking, so get off your MyFace and FriendBook pages, stop twatter-bleeping, and have a good old-fashioned chinwag. For free!

The ads featuring Rhys show him in a various of NZ situations but always with a (totally mental) twist. Even the animated ads for mobile plans for which Rhys provides the voice-over typically take a turn for the ridiculous. Like the “Pay Monthly” ad featuring small business owners Ben and Bernie, which ends with 2degrees customer Ben throwing a staff party and Bernie running off to join the French foreign legion.

C’mon, Bernie – five years and you’ll get a beret. Sacrebleu!

I really like the Christmas ads each year (though the one with the detachable arms was pretty weird), especially the one featuring Rhys in his knitted jumper with a kiwi on his lap and his pronunciation of “the original name for NZ” in the language of the native wood pigeon.

Like an old lady’s slipper – with a beak

My favourite ad to date has to be the one with the joke about Cambridge. It just highlights the fact that we’re laughing at ourselves – but really we still know we’re the best in the world :p

With 2degrees you can stay close to your mates for only 44c a minute. Whether they’re in Cambridge England, Cambridge Australia, or actual Cambridge, here in New Zealand.

I was reminded once again of Rhys’ genius when I went to see The Dark Knight Rises and the pre-show “cellphones off” message came courtesy of 2degrees.

Aaaah… you’re at the movies. It’s time to relax. Imagine you’re a bear, hibernating in a cosy cave. You’ve slowed your heart rate down to one beat per year. Every year you sleep you get older, but you look younger. Because you’re a wise young bear who’s moisturised long before you’ve needed to.

 

…just, what?? Love, love, love. And to top it all off, a reference to every kiwi kid’s fave movie lollies:

Alright, wake up now, bear! You’ve dropped your Tangy Fruits pottle!

Oh Rhys, how you made me yearn for a plastic pottle of Tangy Fruits!

If you’d like to watch some of Rhys’ ads for 2degrees you can find them on their YouTube channel.

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Drink driving ads have always freaked me out. Some of them have been terrible, and some have been based around pretty cool ideas (like the “mate-mate-mate-Dave” one). But Waka Kotohi, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) recently released a new drink driving ad that lots of people are talking about.

The ad features a Maori teenager (who shall be known as “Legend”) at a party where he can see that his sober driver mate (George) is really “wasted” and not fit to drive them home.

The ad follows the guy’s internal moral debate as he tries to decide what to do. He doesn’t want to look “dumb”, but he thinks about what would happen if his friend was killed. He imagines that he’d have to move in with George’s lame family, and that Ghost George would haunt him for the rest of his life, tempting him with delicious ghost takeaways.

Ghost George: Wanna chip?
Legend: You know I can’t grab your ghost chips.

The ad is pretty slick and looks more like a (really) short film than an ad by the NZTA. Which I’m sure is what they were going for. The lighting, cuts, use of slow motion, music and humour – it’s just really cool. It’s probably the first drink driving ad in the world by a government agency that’s really hip.

I love lots of things about this ad: the spotlight on Legend to show his separation and internal conflict at the party, everyone’s sweet accents, dead George’s brother’s hair, the awesome editing of the clip, but my favourite thing is in the party scenes near the end when one of the chicks does a wicked slo-mo party pukana.

According to the NZTA website, over 40% of all drink-driving crashes involve drunk drivers under the age of 24 years and in 2008-2010 38% of the drunk drivers under the age of 24 were Maori. So I guess an ad featuring Maori young people makes sense. Pity it came too late for the ad awards. Legend.

Watch the ad on the NZTA website.

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