Telecom Meerkats in New Zealand

Telecom New Zealand in the 1990s aired two television commercials using meerkats to promote special weekend deals. Saatchi & Saatchi NZ connected stock footage of meerkats with classic songs “I Don’t Know What To Do With Myself”, and “Last Night I Didn’t Sleep At All”, to connect cuteness with nostalgia, cementing customer loyalty in the face competition and concern over staff cuts.

Meerkats in Telecom TV ad

Telecom Meerkats No. 1

A solitary meerkat looks for its mate, accompanied by Dusty Springfield’s 1964 version of the song by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, “I just don’t know what to do with myself”. The final voiceover, “No matter where they are they’re just a phone call away.” The ad was used to promote a number of weekend deals, such as the one in this version, Auckland to Wellington all weekend, 50 cents a minute.”


The Telecom Meerkats campaign was developed at Saatchi & Saatchi NZ, Wellington, by creatives Ken Double and John Fisher.

Editor was Jonno Woodford-Robinson.

Lyrics for I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself

I just don’t know what to do with myself
Don’t know just what to do with myself
I’m so used to doing everything with you
Planning everything for two
And now that we’re through…

I just don’t know what to do with my time
I’m so lonesome for you it’s a crime
Going to the movie only makes me sad
Parties make me feel as bad
When I’m not with you
I just don’t know what to do

Like a summer rose
It needs the sun and rain
Oh, i need your sweet love
To beat all the pain

Telecom Meerkats Last Night (no. 2)

Stock footage of meerkats shows one member of the family is so sleepy he/she can’t stand up. “Last Night I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All”, sung by Marilyn McCoo of Fifth Dimension in 1972, connects us with the voiceover in this version, “Even if they’re sleeping, it’s always a good to keep in touch with friends and family”. Other versions differ, including “You’ll be up all night nattering with the Telecom’s $6 international weekends…”.

Lyrics to Last night I didn’t get to sleep at all

by Fifth Dimension (Billy Davis, Jr., Ron Townson, LaMonte McLemore, Marilyn McCoo and Florence LaRue)

Last night I didn’t get to sleep at all, no, no
I lay awake and watched until the mornin’ light
Washed away the darkness of the lonely night (lonely night)

Oh, and last night I got to thinkin’ maybe I, I, I
Should call you up and just forget my foolish pride
I heard your number ringin’, I went cold inside
And last night I didn’t get to sleep at all

I know it’s not my fault, I did my best
God knows this heart of mine could use a rest
But more and more I find the dreams I left behind
Are somehow too real to replace (to replace)

Oh, last night I didn’t get to sleep at all, no, no
The sleepin’ pill I took was just a waste of time
I couldn’t close my eyes ’cause you were on my mind
And last night I didn’t get to sleep, didn’t get to sleep
No, I didn’t get to sleep at all at all