A safety net for all Kiwis: Salvation Army aims to change perceptions, appeals to middle New Zealand

Every week, the Salvation Army receives 300 new requests for help from Kiwi families going through difficulties. And contrary to the popular misconception that the organisation only exists to help the poorest in society, public relations director of the Salvation Army Steve Chisholm says that it’s also common for those in the middle class to approach the not-for-profit organisation when they fall on hard times.

So, in a bid to change this perception, the Salvation Army has released a new campaign via creative agency Black and production company Construction Films that posits the Salvation Army as a safety net for ordinary Kiwis.           

The pair of TV ads in the campaign feature various Kiwis free-falling in slow motion while the stories of their struggles are told, before they are eventually caught by a net featuring Salvation Army branding. Notably, each of the protagonists are well-dressed and appear middle class, shifting the idea that not-for-profit organisations only serve to assist those in the most dire circumstances.  


“There is a perception that the Salvation Army is all about food parcels,” says Chisholm. “But we wanted to engage with the audience and show that I could very easily find myself in that space. It could be me.”

Chisholm says that the Salvation Army, through its various initiatives, assisted 35,000 families and 68,000 dependent children under the age of 17 over the course of 2014.

And by targeting the middle class, the campaign also taps into the important source of donations that this group provides—something that has become particularly important since the Global Financial Crisis.

Chisholm says that immediately after the crisis, there was a 46 percent increase in families needing support and stats have not yet returned to pre-GFC levels. He explains that the government initially provided additional funding to the Salvation Army in response to the crisis, but this has since been dropped, placing additional importance on the Red Shield Appeal.

The Salvation Army’s month-long street appeal ended on Sunday, but Chisholm says that the organisation accepts donations throughout the course of the year and that this appeal only forms part of its annual push.      

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