ANZ’s Shadow Battalion campaign sees over 38,000 Anzacs remembered

Last month, ANZ teamed up with the RSA to launch an online campaign (conceptualised by FCB) that gave Kiwis the opportunity to publicly honour the heroes who were part of the troops that landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, and the RSA says “its blown away” by the success of the campaign.


Because they went to war. Because they served our country. And, because they didn’t all come back. This Anzac Day…

Posted by ANZ New Zealand on Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The online microsite called the Shadow Battalion allowed visitors to choose a hero and then write a reason for remembering them.

Each message from the site was then added to an online gallery, which featured posts from all the Kiwis who had shared their messages 

Site visitors also had the opportunity to further support remembrance by finding the local Anzac Day service on the RSA site or by making a donation to the RSA online.

According to a release, 38,00 Anzacs were remembered and over 20,000 people shared the campaign, with 96 percent of those doing so through Facebook. And this was particulalrly impressive given that remembrance—rather than prizes or gifts—was the only incentive for participation.  

The Shadow Battalion microsite was also picked up by a major British-based digital awards site called Favourite Website Awards (FWA) to be on their public shortlist. The site showcases the best sites worldwide as voted by the public.

RSA chief executive David Moger says remembrance belongs to all Kiwis, regardless of age or background.

“We had already seen a massive rise in the number of young New Zealanders attending Anzac Day commemorations, and we wanted to create a way for all our young people to engage with the centennial commemorations of the Gallipoli landings,” he says. “An online remembrance project was [the]natural choice given the audience, but we had wanted the opportunity to champion remembrance online for some time, so it was especially exciting to see the Shadow Battalion become a reality. Our goal was to personalise the men and women behind the term Anzacs and at the same time to encourage young Kiwis to discover their own family history or to dig a little deeper into the Anzac they had chosen to remember.”

Moger says the RSA might be 100 years old, but is not yet old-fashioned, so it took to utilising new methods of commemorating and spreading awareness and was “actively looking for ways to utilise the digital space and social media to promote remembrance, commemoration, and to champion the Anzac spirit that’s at the heart of the RSA.”

ANZ communications manager Jessamy Malcolm Cowper says the RSA approached it to help with commemoration activities and bank was particularly keen to engage with a younger audience.

This was a new way we could encourage people to make a personal connection with a WW1 Anzac,” she says. “The campaign was a success with engagement very high, especially for a social media campaign that wasn’t incentivised in any way. People found relatives that they weren’t aware of and did further research into who they were and what they experienced during WWI.”

And while there is a fine line between commemoration and commercialisation of such a tragic day in history, there is also simple corporate social responsibility where instead of selling something its supporting something and receiving no direct financial gain. The support of course does incidentally result in the brand getting a bit of a boost.

Moger told Stuff earlier the organisation carefully chose which companies it aligned with.

“We look very carefully at the nature of the approach, the nature of the offer and the nature of the relationship between the company and Anzac tradition,” he said. “A chocolate company which makes military helmet-style chocolates from a factory near the WWI battleground of Passchendaele was a natural fit to put their logo on. But as for a water repellent spray, we said ‘no thank you’.”

Across the ditch, some efforts didn’t go down so well, such as the Australia-based Woolworths campaign, which came under fire for trying to cash in on Anzac Day via its ‘Fresh in our memories’ campaign.

The campaign required customers to create a profile picture and cover photo for their Facebook pages with the Woolworths tagline in bid to commemorate the servicemen and women who were lost in the war. 

The only problem was the campaign wasn’t seen as sincere by the public, and online outrage ensued. Soon after the launch, memes, complaints and general annoyance poured in, leading Woolworths to eventually backtrack and pull the campaign. 

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