solarZero staff, friends and whanau create a koru on the beach

Behind the scenes of the Grid for Good brand ad - with Chris Long

Two years ago, following the launch of the solarZero + smart battery service, we announced our vision for a GridforGoodTM in Aotearoa. With the help of the talented team at Rainger & Rolfe, we presented this in a beautifully crafted, distinctly New Zealand filmed commercial showing the community of people who will bring this vision to life.

We chatted with Chris Long, Creative Director, Rainger & Rolfe about the making of the commercial and the significance of each of its unique elements.

What is the narrative of the commercial?

It's fundamentally about coming together to do what we can to make New Zealand a better place. 

Visually, we’re showing that people working collaboratively to create something beautiful from natural elements is a metaphor for using natural energy for good.

But at its heart is a manifesto based around the Māori word Kaitiakitanga - guardianship of the land. It’s a concept that to me is a great fit with the brand. After all, adopting smarter, safer solar energy enables the current generation of Kiwis to act as caretakers for our country’s precious natural resources which, in turn, creates a sustainable future for generations to come.

Building a GridforGoodTM is the future vision for solarZero, a community of people picking up the challenge and working together to find a better way to power New Zealand.

What role did Iwi have in the making of the commercial?

Our direction was inspired by the work of the Iwi Partnership team at solarZero, led by Kahn Denton and the work they are doing with Iwi and Marae across the country. Kahn’s advice, particularly around translation was invaluable.  We wanted something that could bring this to life and the musical treatment in particular was created with this in mind.

That’s why we chose the song, a Māori translation of ‘This Little Light Of Mine’ – which alludes to the ‘shining’ examples of good work already happening out there. 

The track was created by Auckland composer Peter Hobbs and sung by the tamariki at Hoani Waititi Marae. It still gives me chills thinking about hearing them singing it on the day… Just beautiful!

The voiceover sounds really familiar, who is it?

That’s Rachel House from Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Thor Ragnarok. She was fantastic, giving the words a great gravitas, but also bringing real warmth too.

Film crew setting up on Muriwai beach for the shoot

Where was the beach scene shot?

Auckland’s Muriwai beach was chosen as the perfect location. It was a beautiful spot, but man it got cold and windy later in the day! 

The people featured in the beach scene include solarZero staff, friends and whanau. I think it’s great that it represents so many who’ve worked with the brand quite literally. It almost becomes part of the idea…

My wife and kids also make an appearance which I love. Every time I see it now I’m reminded of how quickly kids grow!!

The koru in Māori art represents creation and a return to a point of origin. It's also part of the solarZero logo.

What are the people building on the beach, and what is its significance? 

It's the koru of solarZero’s logo. The koru in Māori art also represents creation and a return to a point of origin. Both of those qualities make it a tight fit with the messages of the campaign – creating something new that has a positive effect on the community and landscape, and guardianship of the land, and caring for it so it returns to an almost untouched state.

The koru art was created on the beach on the day by the production company Film Construction crew using mostly found materials from the beach. It was a big endeavour to make, and the film basically shows it literally being created. All up it took about 7-8 hours to be fully finished by a team of three, and we also had to be wary of the tides so had a pretty small window. It was cleaned up as much as possible after filming too, so it was a big day for the art department.

Watch the full commercial below.