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Pop CultureJune 13, 2017

The Spinoff reviews New Zealand #30: The Earthcare Bear


We review the entire country and culture of New Zealand, one thing at a time. Today: Calum Henderson takes down an awful bear.

When I was five I had a nightmare that a wolf walked into my house on its hind legs and kicked me to death in the kitchen. You don’t forget a dream like that. Recently I was reminded of it again when I saw a YouTube pre-roll ad for Earthcare toilet paper.

The ad opens on a primary school-aged girl watching children’s morning television. The girl reluctantly puts on her schoolbag and slowly opens the front door. With her eyes still glued to the screen, she walks straight into the belly of a massive bear standing in the doorway.

The bear doesn’t say a word, just stares at the little girl and menacingly gestures towards the television. The terrified child goes back inside and grabs the Sky remote. Aptly, she presses the ‘Help’ button, which somehow turns the television off.

Thank god, this seems to appease the bear. Now fully inside the house, he performs a short, vaguely sexual dance, thrusting his hips and waggling his bum to a generic funk track, before running out the door. “Another way to save the planet from Earthcare,” says a voiceover, before delivering the campaign’s slogan: “Earthcare Cares.”

Other ads in the series continue along this theme. In one the Earthcare Bear scolds a mum for putting wet washing in a dryer when it’s sunny outside. In another he tells off a young man for staying in the shower too long.

Look, I’m just going to come out and say it: the Earthcare Bear sucks. I know he (the Earthcare Bear is definitely a man) means well, but in in ad after ad he comes across as an absolute creep. I can’t stand him.

Let people live! If a bloke wants to take a long shower that’s his prerogative. It’s between him and whoever pays the power bill; certainly it is none of the Earthcare Bear’s business.

Stop making presumptions! Maybe the mum putting her washing in the dryer had checked the forecast and knew it was going to rain later. I bet the Earthcare Bear didn’t even think about that before he condescendingly suggested she hang it on the line.

And for heaven’s sake, leave our kids out of it! How long was this bear lurking outside just to make sure that little girl turned off the TV? Hasn’t he got anything better to do?

It seems the Earthcare Bear ‘cares’ less about the environment and more about unlawfully entering people’s properties to mansplain basic energy efficiency to them. These ads have taken one of nature’s most majestic creatures and cruelly anthropomorphised it to possess the personality of an average man on Twitter. Just awful.

Verdict: Bring back the roly poly dog.

Good or bad? The bear’s intentions are good, but his personality is unfortunately very bad.

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