By Hannah Sames

A little bit about Barnes, Catmur & Friends

Daniel Barnes (later joined by Paul Catmur, after choosing the independent road to success from the agency DDB) set up Barnes Catmur & Friends in 1996. Purely a New Zealand company, you can find this Auckland agency on High Street in the city centre. They have just one level of the building as they are fond of a shared workspace where their creative team can have maximum communication between the different job roles. This is similar to Bill Bernbach’s idea to get copy writers and art directors working together on the same floor to create more harmonious work, something that revolutionised the way advertising agencies worked.

Barnes, Catmur & Friends have an extensive range of clients, spanning across many fields in the market place. Clients know if they come to this agency, no matter how big or small, they will be equally looked after. Catmur believes if you are a brand looking for advertising agency help “you don’t want to get lost in the corridors of a large agency” which gives them a point of difference. They are smaller in size, but definitely not in creativity.

Recognised throughout New Zealand and across the Asia pacific, Barnes, Catmur & Friends was ranked the leading independent agency for their work on the Honesty Box campaign and the Hell’s Pizza Roulette idea.

The Honesty Box campaign confronts the viewer with questions, forcing either a truth or a lie from a simple “yes” or “no”. As well as print ads, this was run as an online interactive questionnaire where you could be put in the draw to win prizes. The campaign seamlessly showed how the company creates brand awareness through attention grabbing ideas and multiple platforms.

“Both our major winning campaigns were indicative of the way we like to work: they were disruptive, involved consumers and had digital at the core.” — Paul Catmur

The Hell’s Pizza Roulette innovation received national and international PR coverage, with the challenge to customers being introduced through social media and print advertising. After featuring in many large News papers (The New York Times, Huffington Post and TIME) and on CNN, a TVC in New Zealand was released to fill in anyone who hadn’t yet heard. This put Hell on the map and has led to many other successful, cynical and slightly sinful campaigns for this brand.

Barnes, Catmur & Friends consists of twenty-five employees who all work together and collaborate on a daily basis. Daniel Barnes is the Managing Partner and CEO. He started the agency and is also the founder of the Independent Agencies Group at CAANZ. Paul Catmur is Barnes’ Managing Partner and Executive Creative Director when he’s not out fishing.

From left: Daniel Barnes, Paul Catmur and Luke Farmer. Sourced from

The team of creative designers and artists are led by:

· Luke Farmer — General Manager
· Bram Steven — Head of Digital
· Monica Wales — Media Director
· Phil Newman — Head of production
· Alison Curtis — Senior Finished Artist
· Andrea Lo Vetera — Senior Designer

Collaboration is an integral part of this agency, that’s where the “& Friends” part of the name originates.

They encourage all employees to work cohesively, as well as working with other businesses to help achieve a vision that can’t be done purely at their studio. This is an industry where creative thinkers constantly need to be inspired in order to produce great work, however Barnes and Catmur know the road isn’t always easy and there’s “a lot of time wandering in the bushes” before finding that brilliant idea. Part of their philosophy is to respect each other’s unique ways of working. It can be frustrating when something doesn’t go to plan, and we all know what that feels like, so being understanding is hugely important.

Creativity is the agencies solution to any problem. They care about having a close relationship with each client so the product or service can be the inspiration that drives the creative ideas. With the increasing number of platforms to choose from, Barnes, Catmur & Friends choose to focus on the ones that work best for the client and their customers.

This is the Hell gourmet chef commercial featuring a devilish presenter promoting the new luxurious pizza range.

Target audience

To be seen eating at a place called ‘Hell’ in the first place, requires someone to not worry about what others think, and can take the dark sense of humour with a grain of salt. It is often a younger age range (18–25) that is attracted to this edgy kind of advertising and not afraid to walk off the beaten track to try something new. However people of all ages with a slight devilish or mischievous side will be drawn in.

Creative Strategy

Hell’s branding is very unique and uses controversial promotional activity to catch the attention (both good and bad) of those who see it. They have set new standards in cynical marketing, and present the brand personality through the ‘evil’ presenter. He dictates what happens at Hell’s headquarters and poses threats to the characters in the ad and the customer watching.

“There is very little food porn… no bouncing tomatoes or mayo being drizzled on lettuce… we’re trying to stay away from that and maintain our brand” — Stu McMullin

Creative idea

Hell has literally come knocking at this chef’s door, kidnapped his daughter and is holding her hostage until he designs the new range of gourmet pizzas. This would be many peoples idea of ‘hell’, particularly for any fathers watching. The idea plays on the cynical ways in which hell pizzas are created and relate to their names such as ‘lust’, ‘greed’ and ‘pandemonium’.

Successful brand communication

Hell’s controversial brand is well communicated through this ad, combining humour with a more serious, daunting event and using the presenter as the brand personified. It’s the kind of ad that either makes the viewer uncomfortable and despise Hell for thinking of it, or see the funny, non-serious side of the pizza brand and enjoy the unconventional promotion. It is in keeping with other Hell ads, using the same presenter, the dark colours and dungeon-like setting (similar to the physical store) so it is easy to draw the connections.