With little awareness, a tight budget and a whole range of complexities, MediaWorks TV tapped into the country’s passion for DIY and created a nation of ‘Block-a-holics’.
During 2012, a strategic shift saw MediaWorks TV put local content at the forefront of its business and programming. And, due to changes in the way advertisers were using TV, it tried to take a leadership role in the growing realm of brand funded content. Enter DIY show The Block NZ, its first large format competitive reality show.
The show had been a massive hit in many other markets around the world and one season of the Australian series had already screened on Prime, but MediaWorks was basically starting from scratch in terms of awareness. Added to that, local competitive reality shows had a reputation for being hokey and low-budget; the contestants were complete unknowns; the hosts of the show—Mark Richardson and Shannon Ryan—came with only a small niche following; and nearly 50 percent of New Zealand TV watchers tuned into Shortland Street on TV2 at 7pm, so it would have to do something special to tempt them to switch channels at 7.30pm.
It couldn’t pay for marketing support for the entire ten-week period, so that made the launch episode crucial to the show’s ongoing success. And, with so many moving parts, the project’s success required the co-operation of internal teams, external agencies, foundation clients, show participants, various council bodies and even residents near the construction sites.
MediaWorks packaged its target 25-54 audience into two core groups: ‘DIYers and renovators’ and ‘House proud/reality fans’. This gave it a check-group to ensure messaging was on target. It also encouraged the audience to align with a team, which it knew would be critical to repeat viewing.
This led to the development of the term ‘Teamification’, which became the foundation for the campaign. The teams were always pictured as duos and reinforced in creative executions to help fans identify their favourites early on. The main creative message—‘who will nail it?’—was simple, consistent and clearly communicated the show was a competition. And the communications plan, which used owned, paid and earned assets, aimed to achieve objectives of awareness, interest, intent (to view) and involvement.
MediaWorks knew it was essential for discussion to take place during the show to drive ratings. And from episode one it executed live chat through Facebook and Twitter as part of a second screen strategy. All comms, including mobile, off air and on air, pointed to the official online fanzone, while the Facebook page posted interesting tidbits, with special weighting to the teams’ regions to drive provincial support.
As hoped, the show’s marketing “got viewers there” for the first episode and reached its goal of achieving a 12 or higher rating point. 50 percent of episode one viewers returned for every subsequent episode (on average). And this repeat viewing made it the network’s highest rating show of the year. There was a huge public turn out at the various events, and particularly the two open homes. And the audience—and the online chatter—peaked at the live auction finale, which earned a 15.6 rating.
The show was a huge ondemand success and reached a record for a TV3 show on social media, growing from 0 to 26,272 fans. It was also good for TV3, allowing for more commercial conversations around brand funded content project and more powerful on-air promotions. The success of the show also gave the network the confidence to embark on more multi-platform entertainment projects such as X Factor NZ. And as a tribute to the success of the first season, all the programme partners—BP, Kiwibank, Bunnings and Mazda—returned for season two, which proved even more successful than the first one.