It’s no secret that New Zealand has a boating fatality and drowning problem, with every summer serving as a reminder that the water can be a dangerous place to be.
The problem isn’t that skippers don’t know about the risks involved, but that they over estimate their abilities and don’t take the necessary preventative steps to keep passengers safe. This problem is particularly pronounced in men, over the age of 45, often in small craft under 6 metres who make up 90% of boating deaths.
At the beginning of summer last year, the team at News Works teamed up with publishers to help tackle the issue.
“We had spoken to our members and they were keen to get behind a social cause campaign and do something that would make a positive difference,” says News Works head of marketing and communications, Diane Hannay.
“We considered a few causes and water and boating safety came up as the one we thought we could put our weight behind to influence change.”
Hannay contacted the marketing teams at Water Safety NZ and Maritime NZ and threw around a few ideas in terms of how we could collaborate to address the issue.
While the ambition was commendable, the idea struggled to gain momentum in the early stages due to resource constraints. This meant they had to get creative to make this campaign happen.
“It was a bit of a challenge, but the key turning point was when Maritime NZ teamed up with Rebel Sport,” says Hannay.
Rebel Sport is one of the most significant retailers of life jackets in NZ, so the partnership was a natural fit for all the parties involved.
From here, the conversation shifted to what shape the campaign should take. And rather than starting from scratch, the team decided to use a well-loved, existing creative campaign and repurpose it for the summer push.
“We were able to take the existing campaign and evolve it,” says News Works research and insights manager Nick Campbell.
Featuring the quirky line ‘Nobody’s faster than disaster’, alongside Maritime NZ’s ambassador Joe Bro, the ad ran in major newspapers and across all digital channels for two weeks in early December.
“We worked with the publishers to optimise print ad placements,” says Campbell. “We put it in the main news section, to maximise the number of eyeballs that would see it and also alongside the weather to increase its relevancy.”
The powerful execution when combined with the strategic placement across all channels, ensured that the campaign drove traffic into stores and online.
The campaign saw Rebel Sport increase lifejacket sales revenue by 40 percent when compared to the numbers recorded over the same period a year earlier.
Further post-campaign data showed that 67 percent of water sports enthusiasts recalled seeing the campaign and 40 percent intended on letting others know about the discounted lifejacket offer.
Hannay says the success of the campaign was in part attributable to the fact that Joe Bro was so well recognised, having been a central figure in Maritime NZ advertising for some time.
Additionally, she says the placement of the ads around the weather was particularly important, given that boaties tend to check the weather incessantly to make sure conditions are conducive to being out on the water.
“We also made sure the ad was spread across print, mobile and online news media assets. And when you get those three together, it generally makes for a very effective campaign,” says Hannay.
She says that what the campaign did was combine the reach of daily newspapers and weekend newspapers with the targeting capabilities of online advertising.
When consumers read stories about kayaking, boating or water sports online, those words would trigger the ads to display alongside the content. This contextual association helps to relate the campaign with relevant news issues. And because the News Works media partners are all trusted publishers, brands don’t need to be concerned about seeing their advertising on any nefarious sites.
“There’s a growing concern around placement of digital advertising, in the sense that you might find your brand placed alongside an extremist group or other inappropriate content,” says Hannay.
This issue has become a major talking point recently with Google coming under criticism for displaying the messages of numerous UK brands alongside hate speech.
Of course, there is always a risk that an ad might be placed next to a hard-hitting news story, but local publishers enjoy a bit more control over what they publish on their sites.
The point here is that while the international juggernauts might promise more scale, it does sometimes come at a cost to brand safety.
As indicated by the lifejacket campaign, being strategic about where an ad is placed can still drive significant results for the brand. Advertising isn’t about being everywhere, but rather about being in the right place.