TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2017: How Auckland Transport spread the jam

The challenge

Solving conges on is a major objective of AT and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), but getting commuters to take personal responsibility for creating traffic jams is a seemingly impossible task.

It’s well-known that Auckland has a major issue with traffic congestion and the lost productivity that this causes. A study in 2014 found that the annual cost of congestion in Auckland was $1.25 billion. Add to that the frustration and annoyance that it causes and the need for action becomes obvious. 

The response

For the first time AT tackled the issue of traffic congestion with a customer education programme. A ‘Spread the Jam’ video was created, touching on the major causes of congestion in a quirky and engaging way, allowing them to promote good driver behaviour without being seen to be ‘shaking a stick’ at motorists.

‘Spread the Jam’ answers the ques on of why motorway traffic slows down for no apparent reason. The video explained ‘mystery jams’ in a funny and engaging way, making it ideal for sharing on social media. Viewers are shown that apart from sheer traffic volume, the main causes of traffic congestion include cutting-in, tail-gaiting, rubber-necking and distractions, like cell phones used while driving.

The video was actively promoted through social media and was also promoted to young people preparing for their drivers’ licence. In addition, Auckland Motorway Alliance partnered with Auckland Transport allowing motorway onramp billboards to promote ‘Spread the Jam’ and its associated messages. 

The results 

Just one promoted post for $159 on Auckland Transport’s Facebook site on 21 December 2016 and the video went viral. It reached nearly 400,000 viewers before Christmas and was shared by 1,700 people. By the end of January 2017, the video had reached over four million people, with 1.9 million video views and 28,000 shares. Nearly all of this early success was organic.

In February 2017, supporting paid media was used to ensure effective reach of the Auckland target audience. By the end of February, total organic reach on Facebook was 5,519,019 with an additional 532,679 reached via paid Facebook posts. The video had been viewed 2,479,486 times.

An awareness study concluded that 45 percent of working-age Aucklanders were aware of at least one aspect of the campaign. Of those, 95 percent agreed that it effectively communicates the message of maintaining following distances, 72 percent how ‘mystery jams’ are formed, and 68 percent that drivers shouldn’t cut-in.

‘Spread the Jam’ was highly cost-effective with a total spend of less than $60,000. 

Best Marketing on a Shoestring
Campaign Name
Spread the Jam
Company Name
Auckland Transport
Judge’s comment
“This entry demonstrates how a simple communication idea is able to tackle a complex and dry issue (traffic congestion) and make it interesting and meaningful for every Auckland driver. A small budget produced a memorable video, led by a simple line ‘spread the jam’ that has the opportunity to enter the public’s driving vernacular. Viewership and engagement in the programme was high, resulting in strong awareness and claimed behaviour change.”
Marketing Partners
Work Communications
Auckland Council, Cigna, Destiny Rescue NZ, Loyalty New Zealand (x2) New Zealand Red Cross 

  • This story will also appear in the Awards issue of NZ Marketing. 
  • To read more on the TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2017, click here.

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