Television began transmission in New Zealand in 1960. Advertising was present from the start. At first, television only transmitted four nights a week, and only two nights had advertising. Later, it rose to four days a week of advertising, with a maximum of six minutes of advertising an hour. The arrival of a second channel in 1975 led to an increase to five days a week and nine minutes an hour.
These restrictions changed with the Broadcasting Act 1989, which simply stated that there could be no advertising from 6 a.m. to noon on Sundays and Anzac Day, or at any time on Christmas Day, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The normal practice was for up to 14 minutes of ads for every broadcast hour.
Television followed the newspaper practice of accrediting agencies and paying a 20% commission. Local advertisements quickly dominated over those made overseas. However, through the 1960s television remained a relatively small part of the advertising business – in 1970 $35.5 million was spent on newspaper advertising, $10 million on television and $6.5 million on radio.
The first locally made television advertisement was created by Goldberg Advertising in early 1960 for the Apple and Pear Marketing Board. It screened in London before later being shown on New Zealand television. The final frame showed a boy sitting on an apple above the words ‘New Zealand apples give that FRESH UP flavour’.
Television advertising grows
During the 1970s television advertising took off, and in 1981 it represented almost a quarter of advertising turnover. Advertising outstripped the licence fee in terms of television income. By 1991 television advertising equalled the newspaper spend at over a third of the total. This level continued until the early 2000s. In 2007 television received 28% of advertising turnover. Newspapers, which lost classified advertisements with the rise of direct internet selling sites like Trade Me, received 35.4%, a drop from more than 40% in 2000.
As television hours and viewers increased, television advertising rose. The arrival of colour television in 1973, and a second channel two years later, brought larger audiences and more opportunity for creative advertisements. When television became a national network (previously it had been regional) it gained a competitive advantage over newspapers, which had local markets and separate sales managers. TV3 began broadcasting in 1989, and over the next decade channels proliferated, providing further opportunity and lowering advertising prices.
Television advertising was also boosted by the rise in supermarkets and consumer goods. In 1958 Tom Ah Chee opened the first supermarket at Ōtāhuhu, and during the 1960s Progressive Enterprises developed this new form of retailing. Because products were now on open shelves, branding and special deals became important ways to attract consumers to one product over another.
The spread of suburban housing and growing prosperity also opened up opportunities to sell goods like carpets, fridges, washing machines and lawn mowers.