In the final stage towards the end of last year, five towns (Dunedin, Gisborne, Nelson, Timaru and Wanaka) at the top of the round one leaderboard competed to be crowned the Gigatown and win town-wide access to one gigabit per second (1Gbps) internet connection at entry level wholesale broadband prices; access to two funds worth $700,000 to help support local business and community developments over UFB/gigabit infrastructure; and finally, access to the Co Starters programme run by Co Lab, an incubator for creative business ideas in Chattanooga.
To earn points supporters created relevant discussions on social media with town-specific hashtags and completed different challenges related to the social and economic benefits of the gigabit services. Finally, towns had to submit a ‘Plan for Gig Success’ in written and video form outlining how they would use the service to foster learning, playing and business.
The ‘Plans for Gig Success’ were mentored and judged by a panel of influential Kiwis including Andy Hamilton, Cecilia Robinson, Rod Oram, Sam Johnson, Lillian Grace and Lorraine Menta. The New Zealand public were also called upon to vote online for their favourite plan.
In addition, Chorus created a Gigatown website to implement the campaign and spread awareness, which included a live leaderboard so town supporters could track progress of the competition and learn about the benefits of UFB, which was supported by a series of mini-competitions, blog content and fact-based quizzes.
Paid media featured heavily in the first round to build awareness and included advertising across TV, print, digital and social media channels. Once communities formed and fans and followers grew on Gigatown’s social media pages, Chorus drove communications more heavily through social media.
In an earlier interview with NZ Marketing Chorus spokesman Nathan Beaumont said the length of the campaign, which ran over 13 months, was necessary. “It was one of those things that hadn’t really been done before on this sort of scale so it would take a bit of time to get the towns and the people in behind it and understand exactly what it’s all about,” he said. “I think it’s one of those things that gained momentum as we went on, and I think if we had have done it in a shorter time span it wouldn’t have been as successful as it has been.”
At the close of the campaign in November last year, it had garnered more than 5.95 million tweets, at their peak being sent at more than five tweets per second. Chorus not only achieved its goals, it ignited a movement.
Commercially, in just over a year, uptake of UFB increased nationally from 4.3 percent (September 2013) to 13.1 percent (November 2014). The towns that had highly engaged communities participating throughout now have higher uptake. For example, Timaru, a highly engaged town, now has 15.1 percent uptake, compared to Oamaru, which lost traction in the first round, with 9.1 percent uptake.