Brian Edwards Media

Snickering with Paul Henry


I read that Paul Henry is to be the New Zealand face for Snickers. My initial response was that this was not surprising since Paul has been snickering at his fellow man and woman for years. He’s mean. And that is apparently the very quality that the makers of Snickers want in their ads.

I say ‘apparently’ because, thanks to MySky, I don’t have to watch commercials and have never seen a Snickers ad. But I gather they feature some of the behavioural ill-effects that hunger for chocolate can have on human beings. Meanness, it seems, is one.

So Paul is going to play himself in the commercial. And he’s delighted:

“I’m excited to be involved in something which essentially just allows me to be myself. I’m glad to be able to show that meanness can be fun and celebratory, and despite the old adage that it’s difficult to do, meanness really does come easy.”

We never thought otherwise, Paul.

Other Snickers front-people have included Betty White, Joe Pesci, Aretha Franklin, Liza Minnelli and Joan Collins, and Paul regards his inclusion in this Hollywood  A-list as “something of an honour”. I assume he means for him. 

Not long after reading this story, I was rung by a representative of the Fourth Estate seeking my comments. Was this a good thing for Paul to do? Would it be good for Snickers?

My answer to both questions was yes. Paul’s notoriety would ensure that lots of people would watch the ad, which was good for Snickers; and Paul would make a heap of money, which was  good for Paul.

The lady from the Fourth Estate reminded me that I had chastised Kevin Milne for doing an ad for carpet. Wasn’t I applying a double standard?

Well, not at all. Kevin had a reputation for integrity and goodness  which he might be in danger of losing by selling his soul  for commercial profit. Paul was in no such danger.

But I do have some qualms on his behalf. Things aren’t  going too well for him at the moment. His Australian debut has been a debacle. The Aussies hate him. His ratings would be an embarrassment on Access Radio.

And then there are his appearances here at home as host of Would I Lie to You? Paul is unhappy that the team captains, Jesse Mulligan and Jon Bridges,  have been getting more laughs than him. He’s complained that he needs better lines. But the truth is that they are professional comics and he isn’t. His delivery is  the real problem. He looks uncomfortable and his discomfort shows. And discomfort, as some of Paul’s Breakfast victims could tell you, isn’t funny.

So will he be funny on the Snickers ad? Maybe. But Paul is an interviewer by trade and a bloody good one. And none of his predecessors are interviewers. They’re  professional actors. Still, you never know.

And there’s a far more serious question to be asked and answered. What if all the scuttlebutt is true and lovely Mark Sainsbury really is for the chop, and Paul, who wants nothing more, really is in line for the Close Up job?  Just how will that fit with being the local Snickers barker? Can you be funny Mr Mean (rhymes with Mr Bean) in the commercial breaks between being Mr Current Affairs  on Close Up? You know, I’m not sure that you can.

Worth thinking about anyway, Paul.

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  1. 1

    well well we’ll see

  2. As far as I remember, there have been very few good interviewers on Kiwi TV. I don’t think Paul Henry is one of them. Interviewers should have the gravitas and preparation that we find on BBC Hardtalk, not a desire for one upmanship and point scoring.

  3. “Snickers” rhymes with “knickers”; I’m sure he’ll make something of that.

  4. Saw Paul on Aussie TV last Feb and he was dreadful. I’m surprised he is still employed. Mind you it was not helped that he was sandwiched between two large co- hosts..

  5. I doubt if Henry would need to be “Mr Current Affairs” to front Close Up, Brian – nobody else ever did. To accuse Close Up of being a current affairs programme is unreasonable in the extreme. It’s a tabloid where a broadsheet is required.

  6. Paul Henry’s fall from grace in Oz is poetic justice enough.

  7. Lucky guy. That’s my favourite snack. I bet, that he gets a lifetime supply for free.

  8. Snickers look like machine poos – you can use that Paul.

  9. The whole Would I lie to you program seems to me haphazard, witless and meritless probably something like Channel ten breakfast. As for Henry going to CloseUp his support for that was Anthony Flannery who has dug his own career grave by orchestrating the Channel ten breakfast.After seeing that interview with Paul a year or so ago on 60minutes i actually felt quite sorry for him as he didnt seem to have much character to him and being mean seemed to be his only way of trying to show character

  10. My one experience of Snickers was that it effectively seals the mouth for about 10 minutes and the rest of the day you are picking nuts out from between your teeth. As my children discovered it is an excellent and painless method of removing loose milk teeth.If there is ever a global shortage of super glue this confection would be an ideal substitute.

    One can only hope that Mr Henry takes a large bite before appearing on TV in the future. Apart from that I think Mr Shearer and the Labour party are of far more interest and worthy of discussion than the maunderings of this meretricious nonentity.

  11. Sainsbury’s replacement by Henry would solve my 7pm weeknights dilemma and place me firmly in the Campbell camp.

  12. I find Mark Sainsbury’s verbal tics immensely annoying – he prefaces every remark by bellowing “Look”! or “I mean”.It is distracting and unnecessary. Given that Mike Hosking and Paul Henry are the two most likely to succeed him,I would probably plump for PH. To my mind,Hosking lost some of his integrity with the Sky City thing earlier this year. PH has never attempted to portray himself as anything other than the way he is. Not that that is much of a recommendation for such a high profile post I guess. In the meantime, I mostly watch Campbell Live.

  13. What a tremendous marketing opportunity for Snickers. I can see the new branding now…’Mrs Dikshits Snickers’ and ‘Retard’…if you’re nuts this is the bar for you!

  14. Brian’s post is titled “Snickering with Paul Henry” but most of these comments are simply “Snickering at Paul Henry”.

    At present I find no reason to watch TVNZ other than “Sunday” depending on its topics relative to 60 Minutes. Possibly he could change that.

  15. Struth you watch Sunday, i cant find myself getting past the avalanche of adjectives and time-filling emotive ramblings by the presenter

  16. @martin, yes, it’s only occasionally the topic is sufficiently interesting. And 60 Minutes has also deteriorated.

  17. It’s amazing that Paul Henry, who has already had massive exposure and plenty of experience, should still come across as a desperate would-be and try-hard. When will the penny finally drop?

  18. People still watch television?

  19. I saw Paul on Australian morning TV last week. He was illogical and bullying in his style, bordering on abusive, whilst all the while maintaining the accusation that the interviewee was being illogical. I don’t think that makes him a ‘shock jock’, it just makes him the wrong guy to be interviewing anyone.

  20. In Australia in May I watched the breakfast show with Paul Henry. While not impressed with the format, I felt Paul did some very good interviews mainly with politicians, discussing current events. He was appeared well prepared and generally to the point in style but did not harass the interviewees.

  21. I occasionally flick over to Channel 10 to watch Paul Henry.
    I try hard to be supportive from where I sit having my morning breakfast , Alas the cringe factor is too overwhelming. I really was hoping Aussies would “get him`~it would appear they don’t.
    A key Co host has departed and the on air time has been cut back.
    I imagine Paul Henry would Snicker!

  22. Does it make me want to buy ‘Snickers’.


    I keep thinking of nastiness and negativity. Not exactly what an advertising campaign should be doing for a product…