Wellywood likened to renaming French rugby team the “all fries”

24 May 2011

A leading Auckland branding expert is comparing Wellington’s controversial “Wellywood” campaign to the French rugby team rebranding itself as the ‘All Fries’.

Dr Mike Lee, a senior lecturer for The University of Auckland Business School’s Department of Marketing, says the idea to erect the sign in time for the Rugby World Cup is ridiculous and embarrassing.

“Unfortunately, what Wellington is going to be famous for with this sign is being a follower,” Dr Lee says. “It’s embarrassing, quite frankly, and is like the little puppy dog that follows the big dog around and wants to be like him. The Council have taken a charming self-deprecating in-joke and made it into an embarrassing public admission that we are only an offshore try-hard studio.”

“Take for example the All Black name and brand. You’d never see the French team rebranding itself as the ‘All Fries’ or the ‘All Frenchies’. You wouldn’t see the Wallabies calling themselves the ‘All-Abies’. Even though they respect the All Blacks they also have far too much pride and self dignity to do that.”

Dr Lee says the sign immortalises a small group of film-makers and creative people who are innovative and doing an amazing job for Wellington. However, the sign does not depict this work adequately.

“Unfortunately, ‘Wellywood’ says that we are a tiny satellite of the Hollywood studio, and it looks cheap and tacky,” he says. “I’ve been astounded by the attitude to those who are voicing their opinion against ‘Wellywood’. It appears the Council asked for feedback but didn’t really care what the people actually said.”

Dr Lee says Wellington should reserve the sign for when a major movie premiere was occurring rather than permanently scarring the beautiful landscape. “This would have been a better compromise. He also suggests putting up an understated but stunning sculpture of a giant weta.

“International visitors flying in would do a double-take and ask what it was, thus finding out about the amazing movie projects being done at Weta and in Wellington in general. This would epitomise the Kiwi values of understated innovation, rather than overstated imitation.”