In most cases, wasting money doesn’t happen instantly with a large splurge on a single item. It’s a slow insidious process that accumulates over time, manifesting in the shape of coffees, lunches and random treats. It’s two dollars here, three dollars there. It’s a dune constructed one handful of sand at a time.
Apart from those frugal to a fault, this scenario is familiar to almost all Kiwis, most of whom have had their share of the standard ‘don’t waste your money’ or ‘live within your means’ advice from friends, family members and media commentators.
In addressing the issue of saving practices among its customers, Kiwibank did not want to add more whips to the chastisement that Kiwis had become accustomed to. This approach would simply have been brushed off as quickly as the words of a latte-sipping uncle, who already owns the bach, the boat and the Beamer.
Instead, Kiwibank approached Bauer, through its media agency OMD, to develop a creative solution that would resonate with Kiwis on a personal level.
“We were given a generous, open brief by the agency to come up with a content solution for the campaign idea,” says Margaret Hawker, the head of strategy at Bauer’s Media Collective.
“We threw a lot of ideas around, and we spoke about savings a lot, and then we realised that we all shared common weaknesses in this area. So we looked at that and tried to find ways for everyday Kiwis to save a little bit more.”
Building on this premise, Bauer developed a content-led campaign that shared the personal savings journeys of a Kiwi family and a younger woman looking to purchase her first home.
The Kiwi family appeared on the pages of Woman’s Day, while the young woman, Kate Cameron (who would later appear on The Bachelor NZ), featured in Your Home & Garden. Additionally, Bauer complemented this print execution with its digital channels, producing videos for the respective Facebook channels of the magazine brands.
The campaign rolled out as a series of diary entries, with the protagonists sharing personal stories about the struggles they have with saving.
Hawker says that the willingness of the talent to open up about mistakes they make gave the campaign authenticity and helped to break down the taboo associated with speaking about personal finances.
“Not preaching was really important,” she says. “Nobody likes to be told what to do, but we all like ideas about how we can improve in an area.”
The narrative accompanying savings campaigns is usually premised on the objective of making a big purchase, but Hawker says the aim here was quite different.
“The big dreams are great, but the tiny little steps are the things that will get you there.”
Hawker says the response to the print execution was very positive, with some consumers commenting that it was the first bank ad they had ever read. And these sentiments were further consolidated when Bauer rolled the campaign out on social media, presenting an opportunity for the talent to engage with regular Kiwis in real time.
Bauer’s digital sales manager Mark Banbrook says the level of engagement generated by the campaign surpassed even the lofty expectations of those working at the media company.
“We eventually got people giving Kate advice on how to cut back and save money. When people start engaging at that level, it’s gone beyond ‘likes’, ‘shares’ and comments to a personal space.”
Getting this level of engagement wasn’t as easy as just putting pen to paper. As is often the case with the best ideas, there wasn’t a sudden eureka moment that flung the creatives in the right direction.
“As much as we trumpet the creative idea, we’re definitely driven by data,” he says. “The research team is generally the first place we stop with briefs like these.”
Bauer’s focus on research also gives the media company a persuasive bargaining chip when it comes to pitching the idea to clients. And Kiwibank’s online content manager Clayton Foster admits the quality of data presented by Bauer played a major role in his decision to run the campaign.
“The most satisfying part – apart from the awesome content that was produced – was how Bauer helped us to identify where our target audience sat among their publications, and then helped us to craft the exact right type of content to appeal to that audience. That sort of intel is invaluable,” says Foster.
This approach, says Foster, also ties in with the overarching content strategy at Kiwibank, which is premised on going where consumers are, rather than waiting for them to come.
“Rather than trying to attract audiences to a corporate blog or other platform they’re not aware of, we’re going to reach out to them,” he says.
Speaking to all those involved in the campaign, the word ‘collaboration’ is interjected into conversation numerous times, with the general consensus being that campaigns like these are not possible unless agencies, media owners and clients are willing to work together.
“For me, collaboration works best when a group of people embrace that it’s wonderfully messy, because first and foremost you’re making something, not buying something,” says OMD’s strategy director Nick Ascough.
“This distinction is really important in practice and some New Zealand media owners and publishers, as was the case in this project, are demonstrably better at embracing this and going with it.”
This principle also applies to clients, in that content marketing is a very different beast from advertising. Rather than overtly spruiking a product or service, content marketing takes a more subtle approach, focusing on narrative first.
“We really depended on the editors to craft the content into something that would be compelling to read, and we took a really hands-off approach,” he says. “It was in our interest to let the editors and the writers do their thing, because that was what was in the readers’ interest too.”
This last point is a particularly pertinent in the current media context. At a time when ad avoidance has become the nation’s favourite pastime, the last thing marketers want to do is give consumers another reason to cower away from promotional messaging—especially when budgets are increasingly spread thin across myriad channels.
This story was produced as part of a content partnership between Bauer and NZ Marketing.