Agency A-List 2010

International Agency of the Year Runner-up: Colenso BBDO

The Auckland, New Zealand, Shop Tapped a Country's Sweet Tooth for Yellow

By Published on .

NEW YORK ( -- Colenso BBDO assigned a young New Zealander to create a chocolate bar that tasted of the color yellow, using only contacts from Yellow's online, mobile and print products. The real goal, of course, was to make New Zealanders aware of Yellow's transition from a print-based directories company to a digital media business, and give them confidence in its products.

For months, New Zealanders followed online Josh Winger's efforts to develop the yellow-tasting chocolate bar, along with packaging, retail displays, distribution and ads. Everything was sourced through Yellow contacts. Yellow chocolate launched, and sold 100,000 bars in four days, as New Zealanders paid $2 each for a piece of direct communications that demonstrated Yellow is the best way to get any job done.

The Omnicom Group agency grew revenue by 10% for the financial year ended June 30, 2010, and with only 68 staffers, won 10 Lions at the Cannes Lions Festival. New business came from government-owned broadcaster TVNZ and Westpac, one of New Zealand's largest banks and now the agency's biggest client.

"We won both the TVNZ and Westpac pitches on the strength of our culture, our understanding of how to create great culture, and our ideas for how to make those clients' culture better," the agency said.

For Westpac, that's a partnership with the bank's CEO to roll out a nationwide internal culture program for the company's 5,000 staff.

For TVNZ, Colenso had to find a personal way that went beyond broadcast trailers to connect New Zealanders with the Steven Spielberg miniseries "The Pacific," which had attracted only 1% of viewers when it aired earlier in the U.S. and the U.K. To create that bond, Colenso found hundreds of real letters and photos young men sent to their families back in New Zealand during World War II, and 346,000 New Zealand homes received a copy of one of those letters written by a soldier fighting in Okinawa in the 1940s. On the eve of the show's first episode, Colenso staged its own Pacific invasion with a re-enactment in Auckland's Mission Bay of a WWII dogfight between two Japanese fighter planes and a New Zealand Kittyhawk.

*The first paragraph in an earlier version of this story mistakenly referred to Colenso DDB. It has been corrected to Colenso BBDO. We apologize for the error.

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