Vodafone NZ name change: Why TVNZ ‘won’t be happy’


Vodafone New Zealand is changing its name to One New Zealand, or One NZ for short.

The telco is also ditting the red and white used by Vodafone globally in favor of an emerald or greenstone green.

The changes will take effect from early next year, and also see the Vodafone Warriors become the One Warriors, and retail stores get a new look.

“I think this is a brand New Zealanders can take more ownership of,” Auckland University branding expert Bodo Lang told the Herald in a snap reaction.

“The colors and the logo design are lovely.”

But Lang added: “I think TVNZ won’t be pleased about this. That’s potentially an issue because it’s got TVNZ 1. It’s not a great differentiation.”

The type is similar to the font used for “One News” until its 2016 switch to 1 News. “But the logo is completely different,” Lang said.

TVNZ – which is shortly about to go through a shakeup of its own via its controversial merger with RNZ – said it was not fussed, however.

“Vodafone operates in a different marketplace, we don’t see this as a conflict,” a spokeswoman said. (Or at least, soon it will. Vodafone is in the process of winding down its Vodafone TV partnership with Sky.)

Vodafone did not talk to TVNZ during the rebranding exercise, but the telco’s corporate Richard Llewellyn said he had made a courtesy call to his opposite number at the state-owned broadcaster today.

More broadly NZ Companies Office lists more than 1300 local firms that include “One” in their name including, in the tech market, OneNet.

The Z effect

The move comes three years after the UK-based, multinational Vodafone sold its local business to NZX-listed Infratil and Canada’s Brookfield, which each holds a half-share.

“There wasn’t a time frame on when the rebrand needed to happen. Licensing the name could continue, if desired. We’ve decided that now is the right time to do it, as part of our ongoing transformation,” a Vodafone NZ spokeswoman told the Herald shortly before the new name was revealed.

Infratil will be hoping for a similar bounce in value to that delivered last decade when (with the NZ Super Fund) it bought Shell’s New Zealand business and rebranded it as ‘Z’ – a successful transition namechecked by a Vodafone insider.

Although “One NZ” will no longer have to pay for Vodafone branding rights, it will continue to shell out licensing fees to retain access to the global telco’s technology.

“We’re keeping the things our customers value like Vodafone global roaming and IoT [the internet of things]as well as access to Vodafone Group IP [intellectual property] through our partner market status.

“There are no changes to existing products or services for customers, but we will be introducing a range of exciting new customer initiatives over the next few months.”

Second time at the rodeo

The Vodafone brand has been in NZ since 1998, then the global giant bought BellSouth’s local business.

And it will be the second major rebranding exercise for chief executive Jason Paris, who was second-in-command at Telecom when it changed its name to Spark in 2014.

“Three years ago, we moved from global to local to focus 100 per cent on New Zealand, and since then we have been laying the foundations to serve Aotearoa long into the future,” Paris said overnight.

“Now, it is time to take the next step. To become One New Zealand. One team of over 3000 employees, with one focus on one country and on one goal, to unlock the magic of technology to create an awesome Aotearoa.”

Te reo advocacy, if not in the name

Paris has been a te reo advocate, with Vodafone NZ pushing back against social media flak after it changed its network name on people’s phone’s to VF Aotearoa.

And while the headline rebranding went with One New Zealand over One Aotearoa (a move Lang saw as a “safer” option, and one that could have been necessitated by global roaming practicalities), Paris said: “We are committed to supporting Te Ao Māori and normalizing the use of te reo through Whārikihia, our Māori strategy, and through honoring the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Paris says new initiatives will include, “One Good Kiwi, a unique digital charity platform through which One New Zealand will donate $1.2 million a year to worthy causes that are making positive change for rangatahi.”

The Vodafone NZ boss added: “Our commitment to Aotearoa has always been intergenerational. We recently celebrated the 20-year anniversary of Te Rourou, Vodafone Aotearoa Foundation (soon to be Te Rourou, One New Zealand Foundation), which has now invested close to $50 million in securing a better future for rangatahi (young people), and we believe represent the biggest corporate philanthropy in New Zealand’s history, and this commitment will continue long into the future.”

Big changes already

The company has been overhauling the way it sells and serves, bringing most of its call-centres back home to New Zealand, forming local teams of experts and bringing all its retail stores under full ownership, Paris said.

Other major changes recently have seen Vodafone pull the plug on its Vodafone TV service, used by around 100,000 customers and the sale of its 1484-site cell tower network to London-based InfraRed Capital Partners, Toronto’s Northleaf Capital Partners and one of its corporate parents , Infratil, in a deal worth a total $1.7 billion.

Vodafone NZ’s pending rebrand is the second major recasting of the local telco market after the number three and four players 2degrees and Orcon Group (which includes Slingshot and various other brands) merged and adopted “2degrees” as their moniker, with other brands in their combined operation set to be retired over time.

-By Chris Keall

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