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Ralph Waldo Emerson was once heard to exclaim, “A child is a curly, dimpled lunatic!” While this quote was probably the result of his biographer tailing him on a bad day, we can certainly agree with his sentiment that our younger counterparts are a little crazy.
Working with kids is a high stakes game. Sometimes you’re lucky to stumble across a holy grail, “out of the mouths of babes” moment, but most of the time it’s a case of shoving the words in there yourself.
The grand payoff is the unapologetic authenticity you get from children. In an industry whose cogs are stuffed with headshots, sales pitches and marketing spin, the word of a curly lunatic carries an unrivalled realness.
The idea for Mitre 10’s infamous ‘Sandpit’ ad was simple enough; turn the backyard Kiwi bloke soliloquy on its head by imagining it as a conversation between kids.
Any woman will tell you that this backwards transition is a natural result of a man strapping on a toolbelt anyway.
With its five-year-old stars Ruben and Benjamin discussing the merits of a home job on a retaining wall, ‘Sandpit’ hit the perfect notes of charm and cheek for Mitre 10.
Perhaps on a deeper level it really was a reminder that DIY really was in our DNA, that our number-8 wire mentality was inherited from birth. The subtle jab at our Trans-Tasman neighbours probably helped a bit too.
New Zealand fell in love with the pint-sized builders – the ad shot straight to the top of the TNS Top 10 survey upon its release. In 2009, it was voted best of the year at the coveted Fair Go Ad Awards. Six years later ‘Sandpit’ is a New Zealand institution, breaking longevity records with continued appearances in top TVC lists.
Even the grownups have had a crack at parodying it.
And as for that retaining wall? Turns out it’s actually child’s play.