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I fear that for many brands and companies, choosing the ideal Celebrity (or Influencer for that matter) to fly their flag would be an absolute minefield, mind you this dilemma can flow the other way too. People are people and therefore come with a certain amount of human traits (both good and bad) and brands and products aren’t immune to issues. However, when it’s done well, the result can be remarkable, with the brand adopting an easy to understand ‘personality’ and the celebrity obtaining an identifiable ‘value’.

As the NZ summer began to wane, Holden invited me to a two day multi-activity event that allowed up front and personal access to three of their ‘heroes’ (Mils Muliaina, Stephen ‘Beaver’ Donald and Ryan Fox) and a chance to drive two of their more adventurous vehicles (The Graphite Colorado and Z71 Trailblazer), how cool was that!

The event commenced at Holden NZ HQ in Auckland, where (after a brief introduction) we split into groups and drove the ambassadors to Matarangi in the Coromandel, stopping along the way to change vehicles and stars.

In no particular hard and fast structure, I found myself chauffeuring Ryan Fox first. As you are undoubtedly aware, Ryan is one of NZ’s most accomplished golfers and has played on the best courses with some of the best golfers in the world. Bearing in mind that a round of golf was on the agenda I felt under no pressure at all – hmmm

Anyway, here’s how the interview went:

Next up for me was Mils Muliaina. Ex-All Black and ‘Skills with Mils’ visionary, he’s quite the legend, yet so ridiculously easy to chat with. Here’s how the conversation went:

Upon arrival, we headed straight for the Golf course. Now, I’m not sure if I’m proud to say this or not, but this was my first ever round of golf and boy did it show. A poor, no make that a very poor display of divet producing swings made the course look more like a ploughed field by the time I’d finished and my lack of skills was amplified further by the jaw-dropping precision shots that spawned from the clubs that Ryan held – My handicap would have to near treble figures for me to have been on par. Not surprisingly though, I was also usurped by the golfing prowess of both Mils and Beaver – maybe golf is not my game.

Dinner was at Lukes kitchen, it was a casual affair with lots of Pizza topped off with great company, but we hit the hay early as it would be a crack of dawn start the next day for a fishing trip over the mussel farms. As the sun rose we were already on the water and although I am an alright fisherman (if I’m perfectly honest), it was like shooting fish in a barrel. We threw back heaps of ‘substantial sized’ fish and responsibly only took what we needed (ok maybe a little more as we are all growing lads).  

That night, we ate like kings with a fresh Snapper and Scallops adeptly barbequed at Beaver’s place, filling our bellies and our ears as we listened to ‘tour’ tales that were quite simply, hilarious. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get a specific one on one interview with Beaver  – he is All Black that kicked that winning goal (as if I needed to tell you), however, I can attest to him being the exact same relaxed and funny individual I had imagined him to be.

Having spent two days with these Holden Heroes I can see how and why these three were hand-picked as ambassadors. Despite their fame and ongoing popularity, I found them humble and easy conversationalists. They were proud to be behind the wheel of a Holden and it was quite obvious that Holden was equally pleased to be behind them.

Watching Holden and the ambassadors interact over the two days had me wondering if they’d done this before, and if that was the case, then maybe my fears surrounding the difficult ‘selection process’ was unfounded! Oh, and as a side note, both the Colorado and the Trailblazer performed admirably.

For more on Holden, click here

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