Late last week Cure Kids’ campaign consisting of a video clip for a song, dubbed Team, Ball, Player, Thing as a fight against Batten disease and a Rugby World Cup sendoff featuring, well, pretty much every New Zealand celebrity blew up, with news of the clip dotted all over the internet. Cure Kids and Augusto worked tirelessly on the campaign and faced some big challenges (like not having all of the featured celebs in the same room when filming, for instance). Here’s a look behind the scenes to see how this enormous project came together.
For the clip, more than 20 of New Zealand’s greatest musicians and performers, including Taika Waititi, Sir Peter Jackson, Brooke Fraser, Joel Little, Lorde, Rhys Darby, Jemaine Clement and Brett McKenzie collaborated to record the track with the aim of killing two birds with one stone: raising money to fight the disease and supporting the All Blacks.
Included in the video are some great interviews with kids who helpfully provide the lyrics to the track– spouting great suggestions involving Vikings, unicorns, laser beams and dinosaurs.
So, how did it all begin? According to Augusto CEO Leon Kirkbeck Cure Kids social entrepreneur and strategy consultant Brooke Howard-Smith thought up the idea with Jesse Griffin (whose alter-ego is comedian Willie Dixon) who works with Augusto as a director.
“We’ve known Brooke for a long time, we’ve helped out with previous Cure Kids projects in the past so they brought the project to us and asked us to be the production partner on it,” Kirkbeck says.
He says there were multiple shoots involved including four in LA, four in Auckland and a shoot in Wellington. “We had to shoot Peter Jackson and Dave Dobbyn and Julian Savea down in Wellington and Jemaine Clement because they were only available [there].”
He says Daniel Bedingfield, Brett McKenzie and Taika Waititi were in LA but Waititi did some of the filming in New Zealand. “It was camera trickery. Brett was in LA and Jemaine was in Wellington so it was a lot of separate shoots.”
He says Howard-Smith has a little black book of mates which is one way the celebrities became involved. “ … we’ve got a number of contacts as well and it was as simple as getting in touch with them and giving them the pitch … There were a bunch of people we would have liked to [include]but weren’t available, but really given the people that did it’s not really lacking for anyone.”
The release of the clip was perfectly timed with the night the All Blacks took off for the World Cup, he says.
Howard-Smith says the idea of interviewing kids had been explored in 2012 with the Flight of the Conchords single Feel Inside (and stuff like that) made to raise money for Cure Kids, a parody of charity singles.
“Of course, supporters songs are mostly terrible and the idea of musicians somehow giving the All Blacks advice on how they can win is even worse so we went back to the concept of six-year-olds running the show. This time we thought, ‘Why not include some visual applications of the kids’ ideas as well?’”
“Feel Inside went gangbusters and sold a lot, with some people donating as much as $1000 USD to download the song. The following year Cure Kids applied some funding to two New Zealand-based researchers who’s been looking into a cure for a rare, but awful disease called Batten’s,” he says. “Believe it or not within a year they had a breakthrough. We heard about the breakthrough the very same week the All Blacks asked us to write their official supporters song for the Rugby World Cup.”
The celebrities became involved after a lot of emails and calls, he says. “There must be around 50 singers, actors and directors involved in this. The response has been overwhelming. At the centre of a concept like this it comes down to who’s in your core team and having Taika [Waititi] and Joel Little in there certainly helped.”
And what about the kids?
“I just posted on Facebook. Their parents had no idea they’d end up writing lines for Lorde and Kimbra to sing until they saw the video weeks later,” he says.
He says the whole process took about six months from start to release. “Then there’s another month of making sure it gets out there. It’s been a massive, massive task that’s had Jesse [Griffin] and I sleeping as little as four hours a night for weeks on end.”
Coordinating shoots around the world and stitching them together on a charity budget was pretty tricky, he says. “If agencies knew how little we made this for they’d freak out. So many people were generous with their time.”
He says the celebrities involved are being used to push out the campaign as they have a huge social reach and though they haven’t begun an overseas push, sites like The Guardian and NME had already picked it up.
Working on a campaign on this scale for this cause was hugely enjoyable, he says. “ … we’ve done a lot of work with the All Blacks over the years and we are really proud of all the stuff done commercially but to do this for a cause, particularly Cure Kids, is so ridiculously enjoyable. It just makes it so easy, all my guys at Augusto have put in ridiculous hours. Stupid hours to get it done and they do it because it’s such an amazing cause and they are happy to be involved with it.”
A campaign release says Batten disease is an inherited collection of illnesses affecting the brain with the effects comparable to a child having a combination of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy and blindness. New Zealand led research, conducted through the University of Otago and Lincoln University, has been financially supported by Cure Kids and is actively working towards a cure for the disease.
Supporters can download the official song for free when they make a donation at www.kiwiscurebatten.com or by purchasing the song for $2.49 through iTunes.
Cure Kids will also utilise ‘#donate’, a technology by US-based, Kiwi-led company GoodWorld (founded by Invercargill’s Dale Pfeifer), to allow fans to contribute directly to #KiwisCureBatten on Facebook and Twitter with the use of a hashtag.
UPDATE: In addition to this, independent creative agency Libby&Ben also produced a hub that now houses the content in a discrete microsite.
The agency’s head of strategy and planning Ben Crawford says he was humbled to have been involved with the project.