In the making: Unitec builds on its solid groundwork with smart campaign extensions

Unitec’s brave ‘Change Starts Here’ campaign by Special Group and Naked helped change perceptions of the institution, and its latest ‘We make the people who make it’ push ramped up the brand’s cool factor by showcasing some of the impressive constructions its students have been involved in around Auckland. But it certainly didn’t stop at TV because that quest has continued through a range of smart campaign extensions and media partnerships organised by Beat PR, including one with George FM that’s given a group of Unitec students the challenge of constructing the ultimate DJ booth. 

The booth was designed by Unitec graduate Tim Laing of Meister Design Bespoke Furniture Solutions, with input from George FM listeners and social media followers and it has been built by current Unitec students from plumbing and gasfitting, welding, electrotechnology and furniture and cabinet making courses. 

During the build phases Unitec staff, students and graduates were interviewed on George FM to talk about how it was progressing. Listeners on air were asked to contribute their suggestions for elements of the deck and the build was also tracked on its Facebook page and Twitter feed. And the compact, portable booth has ended up with all the trimmings: a confetti canon (which is also capable of firing a t-shirt over 70 metres), a smoke machine, an LCD strobe light and a covered trailer.

“This partnership was established to connect our students and staff with George FM listeners, demonstrate the skills that our students have, the range of projects they get involved with and promote a sense of ownership of the campaign within the trade industry,” says Unitec’s director of corporate relations Darren Horsman. “Being George FM, all activity needed to be delivered in a fun, engaging, relevant way to provide opportunities for interaction and conversation.”

The booth will be launched at Unitec’s annual Grad Fest on 29 November, with George FM’s Nick D and Dean Campbell, along with Loui the ZU (the musician behind the song featured in the TVC and downloadable track), all performing on the booth. 


The activity has led to an on-going partnership with George FM, with the booth replacing the current booth and set to be used at events and gigs. This activity is being further promoted through the George FM Summer Series Gigs, which will feature the booth as well as other Unitec activity.

Unitec also shacked up with TVNZ’s U Live to further spread the campaign’s message.  

“With this partnership we set out to celebrate the iconic landmarks in Auckland, and the part Unitec graduates have played in building them,” Horsman says. “We worked to integrate this partnership with U Live’s on-air Facebook capabilities, stimulating conversation around New Zealand buildings and landmarks with polls pitting major landmarks against each other and getting viewer feedback on these.”

Interviews comprised a major element of the partnership, with Unitec graduates telling stories of their wider contribution to built environments. These interviews were then pulled through to the campaign microsite, and were utilised through its own social media channels.

The partnership included a competition to design the next big landmark for Unitec, which was promoted on air and via social media. 

“This got a great response and a high level of interaction both on-air and through U’s unique social media capabilities,” he says.     

Given the campaign’s focus on meatspace, it’s not surprising there was also a big focus on outdoor media, but it was done in a novel, often interactive fashion, with a series of videos produced to play on the city Link buses as they went past buildings featured in the campaign (the first time this type of GPS initiated activity has been used in New Zealand) and a bus shelter takeover that incorporated the track featured on the TVC. 

This part of the campaign was designed to extend the key messages of the campaign to additional buildings on high traffic bus routes. And the bus shelter, located at Britomart Precinct, featured an Auckland cityscape and location-specific Adshels with interactive buttons that allowed waiting passengers to play (or stop) the song.

To further connect the grads with their creations, street posters, Adshels, billboards and street chalk stencils were also focused around locations featured in the ad.

Heading online, the Made it Map, a key digital engagement tool developed to showcase a range of disciplines and how they have helped shape Auckland that was put together by Special Group and Beweb, allows people to place a virtual tag on buildings they have helped build. 

“From constructing the Sky Tower, plumbing a major subdivision to renovating a villa, we created a platform where people could share their contribution to making our city,” he says. “We also wanted a form of engagement that would continue to grow over time and provide ongoing engagement after the campaign had finished. The Made it Map has already attracted interest from people in the trades, Unitec graduates and students, and we plan for this to grow as it becomes an increasingly important element of our campaign activity. We also plan to increase the number of featured disciplines to allow architects and landscape architects to tag projects.”

Rounding out the digital work, it also created online referral banners placed on Trade Me and other high traffic sites that allowed people to refer a friend or relative to a ‘trades’ course. 


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