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Suzanne Paul is everything, everywhere, all at once.
Suzanne Paul is everything, everywhere, all at once.

Pop CultureMay 4, 2023

Why is Suzanne Paul suddenly the face of everything? 

Suzanne Paul is everything, everywhere, all at once.
Suzanne Paul is everything, everywhere, all at once.

A new TVNZ campaign has allowed advertising queen Suzanne Paul to reclaim her throne like never before.

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Following her soft launch into the Briscoes universe last month, Suzanne Paul has returned to local television screens to sell what appears to be frankly thousands of luminous products. Across the country, audiences have been left bamboozled by the Natural Glow icon lending her dazzling visage to everything from Arnott’s to Liquorland, Flight Centre to Summerset Retirement Villages. Just last night, amid the atrociously hilarious first episode of Fatal Attraction on TVNZ+, SuPaul came out of nowhere to nosh on a burger and then promptly catch on fire.

This girl is on fire

RNZ Mediawatch host and Spinoff contributor Hayden Donnell, who once tried to encase Suzanne Paul behind glass in his series Get it To Te Papa, describes the initial feeling of “excitement” when he saw the beloved Brit back where she belongs this week. “I paused The North Water the other day and the image of grim-faced men screaming into an ice storm was replaced by Suzanne Paul hawking a Whopper,” he says. “There’s no-one you’d rather see selling you something, and it is certainly a more joyful sight than another bearded Englishman crying in the general direction of a polar bear.”

As thrilling as it is, the curious ads have left viewers with more questions that answers. Why now? Why Suzanne Paul? Why all these brands? Why the exact same posh-looking set? And the same sparkly tiara? Aaron Dawson, general manager of Blacksand, TVNZ’s creative and production team, explains that the ads are built around the lead-up to the King’s Coronation this Saturday. Looking to blur the line between content and commercials with a series of brand-backed ‘How To Live like a King’ ads, Dawson says the campaign is a “fun, bold take on the royal celebration.” 

Suzanne Paul and a Whopper

Naturally, there was only one person for the job. “We wanted an iconic Kiwi host with an English pedigree who was up for having a bit of fun – and we knew there was no one quite like Suzanne Paul,” Dawson says. With five brands onboard – Flight Centre, Burger King, Summerset, Arnott’s and Liquorland – the ads were all shot in just one day in the TVNZ studio, complete with cameos from a corgi and even some Summerset retirees. “Suzanne nailed each and every brief, her cheeky sense of humour and comedic timing were on point,” says Dawson. “She was a dream to work with.”

If you’ve missed seeing Suzanne Paul’s television takeover to date, never fear. The ads are continuing to play across TVNZ channels and on TVNZ+ ahead of the Coronation, and viewers will get to watch them back-to-back during an ad break takeover during Seven Sharp on Friday night. Is there a chance that this could be Suzanne Paul overload? Donnell, surprisingly, has his concerns. “Joining the Briscoes team was one thing – it’s one of the few advertising propositions as iconic as her own – but it feels like Suzanne Paul might be diffusing her power by spreading it out over too many brands,” he says.

And that’s… the tea

Bodo Lang, professor in marketing at Massey University, agrees that there is a risk of saturation during this Su-naissance moment. “There is there is a danger of too much Suzanne Paul, but I think if you just look at this series in isolation, the theme is quite funny,” he says. As confusing as it is to have multiple brands sharing the same person, the same background, the same setup and the same clothes, Lang says there is “method to the madness” and these ads have been created to be talked about. Indeed, TVNZ say the ads are already “the talk of the town” (allegedly including friendly local website “The Spinoff”).

Dawson could not be drawn on whether or not this was in fact a test concept for Suzanne Paul eventually taking over all of television advertising from her throne in the TVNZ studio, simply responding “Ha, never say never!” With several days left of the ads, Lang says the ‘Live like a King’ campaign is a novel and innovative one – although if he had to be critical would say that the wording is slightly confusing. “It is tricky because they are talking about the coronation of a king being male and she is a female and very much a queen,” he says.

“But maybe that’s the whole point, maybe she’s positioning herself as the future queen or something.” At this moment, it would appear anything is possible when it comes to Suzanne Paul.

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