Unite against COVID – filming a TV ad

Marching up and down again, performing for a great cause

Wellington Batucada drummers and dancers, filming Ka kite COVID TV ad. Photo by AliG.

It’s always the same when you do any sort of filming – it always starts later than planned, and there’s always heaps of waiting around. Fortunately for us, our good friends at El Barrio had provided part of their bar as our official Green Room, which meant that we had somewhere to store our stuff, get ready, hang out, socialise, and maybe even have a beer or two. What could be better?

Our part in the ad featured two lovely guys walking amongst a group of carnival performers (us!). Dressed in a variety of CubaDupa outfits, we spent a good couple of hours parading, dancing and drumming up and down the very short alleyway that is Eva Street, much to the bemusement of passers-by and patrons of the local hostelries.

Lisa and James modelling inappropriate headgear. Ka kite COVID TV ad. Photo by AliG.The smoke machine set off the El Barrio fire alarm, which meant that the Fire Brigade paid us a visit (hello boys!); we were given and politely abandoned extra costuming by the film crew (yeah nah Mexican sombreros and Carmen Miranda-style fruit hats don’t really work with our style of samba); Mel got accidentally shoved half-way down the street by the very large lighting guy; and we did some very dodgy starts and stops because half of us couldn’t see Dazzer signalling us (which didn’t matter of course because they didn’t use our actual soundtrack in the ad).

All in all, great fun was had by all.

By the time we finished filming it was nearing 10.30pm, and the last thing we heard, as the film crew packed down their stuff and we headed on back into El Barrio to collect our gear was a plaintive “SHUT UP!” from one of the flats above us in the Hannah’s Building. Yeah OK. Soz guys. It was for a great cause!

Yep it sure turned out well. My feedback from their main coordinator was that – apart from being fantastic (her word) – we were fun, friendly and positive which gave the crew a boost and was appreciated at the end of a long 3 days of shooting.
Gordo, our gig co-ordinator

Here’s the ad – it’s called Ka kite, COVID.

Blink and you miss us – but how nice that they chose our bit as the static screenshot!

Wellington Batucada drummers and dancers – Ka kite, COVID TV advertisement, Ministry of Health, New Zealand

Photo gallery

Photos by AliG, Andre Grobler, Anny Freitas, Donki Kong, Epu Tararo and Kelly Etuata. Click on any thumbnail to see the larger version:

A bit of background

Out of the blue, we were invited to participate as background performers in an advertisement as part of the Unite against COVID campaign, which is the nation’s official response to COVID as led by the Ministry of Health and the Government.

Initially this response focused upon protecting the borders and encouraging community and individual behaviours to minimise any risk of community transmission or wider spread. Where community transmission did occur initially last March and in the occasional leaks across the border since, the Unite against COVID campaign led and encouraged our collective responses. To date this campaign – and our collective support of each other through our actions, behaviours and sacrifices – has clearly been very successful. Here we are living largely freely in New Zealand and able to do pretty much what we like as a result. But we can’t be complacent.

In the next phase of the Unite against COVID campaign, much of the focus is shifting to implementing the vaccination programme to beat COVID. This is happening all over the world. This next stage is the focus of the information and advocacy campaign. The advertisement we were asked to participate in includes advocacy messages for the vaccination programme. Reassuring the 70% of New Zealanders who have indicated they would be prepared to accept a ‘well tested and approved vaccine’, and the approximately 25% ‘vaccine hesitant’ New Zealanders – who are not sure yet and would like to know more – are the objectives of the next phase of Unite against COVID.

In doing this event Wellington Batucada is actively supporting the health and wellbeing of our communities. The outcomes of the Unite against COVID campaign to date have also directly benefited Wellington Batucada through allowing us the chances to perform to large audiences on multiple occasions as well as all having general life freedoms and health securities that are better than most have. These are things members of overseas bands like ours haven’t been able to have for a year and who knows how much longer it will be. Given the seriousness of the situation it relates to, supporting the community, our freedoms and our own future playing opportunities by supporting the Unite against COVID campaign were the main drivers of our decision to take part.

We received a performance fee for this gig, which we are donating to organisations supporting samba bands like ours in Brazil, where they continue to experience the very worst of the pandemic.

Media coverage

There’s been quite a bit of media coverage for the ad already. Looks like people really like it. Fantastic!

Covid 19 coronavirus: New vaccine advertisement wins praise

The Government’s new advertisement campaign to encourage Kiwis to get the Covid-19 vaccine launched yesterday, a typically Kiwi effort loaded with low-key humour that has won global praise.
New Zealand Herald, 3 May 2021

New Zealand’s Covid-19 vaccine advert goes viral as Kiwis praise the slickly produced video that ‘perfectly sums up the nation’s unique attitude’ – as students perform a stirring Haka

New Zealand’s entertaining new advert for the Covid-19 jab is being widely praised by the public as the nation begins its vaccine program…

The nation has famously fared extremely well during the pandemic, and is enjoying night clubs and rock concerts after only ever having 2,623 cases and 26 deaths…

The public applauded the video with some saying they were now ‘excited’ to get the jab.

Daily Mail UK, 4 May 2021

New Zealand and Singapore have catchy new COVID vaccine ads. Should Australia do the same?

Punchy, funny and barely a minute long, the governments of New Zealand and Singapore this week rolled out new video ad campaigns encouraging citizens to get the jab…

Both advertisements were strong examples of communication, said Kirsten McCaffery, director of the Sydney Health Literacy Lab at the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health.

They cleverly use humour, use everyday language, are easy to follow, and frame vaccination as “the pathway to freedom”, Professor McCaffery told the ABC.
ABC News Australia, 4 May 2021

How NZ’s new Covid-19 vaccine ad compares with the rest of the world

Titled “Ka Kite, Covid”, the Ministry of Health’s minute-long vaccine promo is a diverse and colourful call to action. After more than a year of seeing Ashley Bloomfield and Jacinda Ardern step up to the podium to give advice about Covid-19, it’s interesting there’s not a single politician or celeb in sight. No Lorde, Taika, Richie – no one.

Instead, we’re treated to smiling, everyday New Zealanders. It’s actually quite refreshing.
The Spinoff, 5 May 2021

2 thoughts on “Unite against COVID – filming a TV ad

  1. That was so much fun! A privilege to support the cause of helping to assure our health and relative freedom and to donate to those who inspire us in Brazil.

    • I agree Sandra! It was great fun – an unexpected opportunity to do a Good Thing while spending a lovely evening with our Batucada buddies. I’m so pleased we are donating our fee to our sister samba schools in Brazil. It absolutely feels like the right thing to do.

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