Kiwi digi-boffins put minds to good use as Facebook’s Hack for a Cause comes to town

Facebook is a big believer in the hack mentality; in “putting a bunch of ridiculously talented people in ridiculously small quarters under ridiculous time pressure and building cool stuff”. From time to time it employs this approach to come up with big ideas for big clients or charities in some of its larger markets, but last week, the hack came to New Zealand, when around 40 digital and creative folk from the likes of Contagion, Colenso BBDO, Rapp Tribal, DMD, Gladeye, DraftFCB, Saatchi & Saatchi and Young & Shand put aside their rivalries and gathered in the Contagion offices in Auckland to come up with ideas that would help cement the legacy of Sir Peter Blake and spread the word about the work of the Sir Peter Blake Trust

Hack for a Cause took place in Sydney in February as part of Facebook Studio Live, with Australian Surf Lifesaving the beneficiary of some of Facebook’s senior humans and 60 of Australia’s best digital and creative minds. But because there are only two Facebookers on the ground in New Zealand, this event required a fair swag of organising from the Contagion folks before it could happen in New Zealand.

  • Check out a video of what happened in Australia here.

The brief, which was delivered by Contagion’s Bridget Taylor, was to raise awareness of the trust’s work—and, specifically, the environmental focus of Sir Peter Blake—by harnessing the power of the social network.

Many of the ideas tapped into aspects of gamification and of the four teams, three of them had working apps after a torrid six-ish hours of creative thinking last Thursday. One of the coolest ideas was based around an app that asked users to blow into their microphones to help continue Sir Peter Blake’s journey to some of the world’s environmental hotspots, a journey that was cut short when he was killed in the Amazon.

Another involved donating some of the three hours the average Kiwi spends on Facebook each day to being a ‘good bugger’ like Sir Peter, kind of like an out-of-office message that showed others in their network that they were out being a good bugger rather than telling their friends about what they had for lunch, and another involved users claiming a piece of New Zealand—whether it be a favourite spot by the lake or the path outside the office—and endeavouring to keep it clean.

The best idea will be chosen by Sir Peter Blake Trust’s chief executive Shelley Campbell and implemented within the next month in time for Leadership Week (Facebook is thought to be donating $10,000 worth of media to the campaign).

“Wow, what an amazing night that was,” she says. “Somehow we all feel a little cooler having been involved in the hack.”

Facebook representatives couldn’t be contacted to talk about the hack, which remained fairly under the radar in comparison to the Australian event (it’s thought the powers that be are fairly wary of media coverage given the heat that’s been directed at them after the IPO), but Facebook’s director of global creative solutions and Kiwi expat Mark D’Arcy said back in February: “The hacking culture is a new way of thinking that’s energising and involves showing, not talking. We want agencies to embrace this way of thinking and the social by design concept by putting people at the heart of marketing strategies to deliver powerful and connected experiences … We are moving from a model of advertising by interruption to advertising by permission and people really care about the things they really really care about, and that includes brands.”


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