Clemenger BBDO WellingtonUnite Against COVID-19
Submission # 165
Campaign – Pānuitanga
Impact – Social Good
Impact – Reach / Results / ROI
Just months before COVID-19 swept the world, New Zealand ranked just 35th in the world for pandemic preparedness. A large-scale outbreak would cripple our health system. With the New Zealand public’s compliance of government messaging below 50%, we needed to inspire collective action in a culture that actively pushed against conformity.
Brought in as the communications partner for the Government’s pandemic response team, we were tasked with creating a flexible platform that could guide New Zealanders through the changing landscape of the pandemic. We were given one week to develop the platform identity, look and feel, tone of voice and comms and targeting strategy, along with the official Government website (built with partners Silverstripe). Within seven days, our first communications hit the public.
Designed to change and evolve as the situation required, we’ve continually adapted the platform in line with Aotearoa’s changing situation and constant learnings. Whether guiding New Zealanders through lockdown, to communicating around border restrictions and resurgence, Unite Against has been a consistent thread that continues to provide a single source of truth and inspiration for New Zealanders.
Unite Against COVID-19, Mā tātau katoa e rai atu te COVID-19, sought to redefine the expected communications approach to a pandemic. Instead of centring around the virus, people were placed at its heart. It sought to foster calm and compassion, rather than fear. Move people to action through emotion and reason, not directives. And pre-empt the emotional journey of people throughout the changing course of the pandemic.
A platform of beauty, hope, humour and heart, every touchpoint reinforced our individual role in achieving our collective purpose. With clarity. Humanity. And sensitivity. Rather than a top-down Government directive, the platform was a call to participate: to unite together to fight the virus. Rallying New Zealanders behind a common cause, a common enemy. This centred people and gave clarity and focus at a time of much confusion and misinformation. With so many different asks, our simple rally to unite gave even the smallest actions bigger purpose.
Imbued with key values at its core – collectivism, empathy, clarity, action and positivity – Unite Against gave ownership to New Zealanders, who embraced it. Giving Kiwis the tools and vernacular to take our messages and spread them for themselves, ingraining it within culture.
Unite Against COVID-19 is a human response to a health crisis. Galvanising New Zealanders around a platform we could all rally behind, take pride in and own.
Our human tone of voice helped to dissipate fear and make dense information accessible and approachable. Our typeface and colour palette were carefully chosen to feel informative yet non-threatening. Language was used that was friendly and easily understood. Simple, graphic, human-feeling icons gave messaging clarity, simplicity and cohesion across 20+ languages.
Consistency and familiarity quickly earned the nation’s trust. The distinctive chevron immediately stood out as authoritative, yet approachable, signalling a consistent source of truth. Wherever people saw them, they knew they’d be guided with best practice information.
The system had to flex with where the situation went – not only with the virus, but with the mood and emotions of New Zealanders. Psychologists were engaged early on to help anticipate the emotional journeys of people throughout the course of the pandemic, so we could pre-empt the beats and emotions we’d need to appeal to, to keep our communities engaged, and the momentum going.
No pandemic response has been so loved and cherished by its people; provoking pride, trust and action. Unite Against has become ingrained within Kiwi culture, won global hearts and praise, and become the text-book communications response to a health crisis:
- 88% trust in government information (global average 50%)
- 97% campaign awareness
- 86% understanding of alert levels
- Leading to the lowest death rate in the OECD
An example of design minimalism at a time in our country (globe really!) where messages needed to be sent out, understood by all and reinforced day-to-day. The sonic branding is also instantly recognisable.
Credits & Collaborators: Creative Director - Brigid Alkema, Mark Dalton, Emily Beautrais Blank - Brett Hoskin, Linda Major, Bethany Omeri Blank - John Walsh, Heather Peacocke, Gemma Bevan, Sarah Wood, Regan Savage, Lauren Stanley
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