Year in Review: Cassie Roma, NZME

1. Favourite local campaign that isn’t yours

Oh, this is a good one to start off with! 2017 has been a great year for marketing, media and ad campaigns in New Zealand. The campaigns that have really resonated with me have been the ones that have tugged at my heartstrings.

My favourite local campaign though comes from ANZ Bank – both here, and across the ditch – for starting off the year with heart and soul during Pride Month with its #HoldTight campaign.

Insight-lead and creatively executed, each video, image, ad, experiential event, and story resonated authentically across audiences. While #HoldTight hit a big chord with me personally, ANZ has hit their stride across the board from a branding and campaign perspective. I’m excited to see what they do in 2018. 

As a close second, I also really enjoyed the new police recruitment campaign. The New Zealand Police balanced humour, seriousness and compassion into a clever storyline. I even considered signing up to join the force for half a second.

2. Favourite campaign that is yours

We’ve worked on some amazing campaigns across a plethora of fabulous clients this year. And, be the campaigns big or small, I feel grateful to have worked on new, innovative ways to tell stories across platforms, channels, and audiences.

My favourite was one that had a good-cause at its heart. That being, Steptember. Working alongside the Steptember team, my brilliant colleague, Will Wood, wrote a hilarious script about #shoeswapping that quite literally had people walking a mile in the shoes of others.

Not only was the launch video hilarious, but the social media and digital strategy behind it, with a hint of branded content for good measure, were very impactful.

3. Favourite international campaign

2017 has been a big year for brands and media when it comes to social justice, equality, and heated political debate.

We only need to open up Twitter or Facebook to see the #MeToo hashtag, hear the words ‘fake news’, or follow what’s happening in Australia in relation to marriage equality to get a taste of how the last trip around the sun has been for New Zealand and the world as a whole.

Brands can’t simply abstain from, or ignore, topical conversations that affect their customers anymore. For this reason, I believe that the bravest campaigns were those borne out of the necessity to tell stories and the dire need for truth and transparency on a global scale.

The New York Times stuck to their guns when attacked by fake news pundits in Washington DC and created an amazing array of campaigns to counter arguments that their journalism was anything other than integrity-filled, authentic and truth-filled.

They campaigned long and hard, and in doing so, became a strong voice championing the integrity and freedom of the press in my homeland.

Beyond The New York Times, I loved Heineken’s World’s Apart campaign. The idea was simple: bring together people who usually wouldn’t share a beer together, and start conversations. The end result? A strong showing of tolerance of differences. In a world so fraught with us-vs-them rhetoric, Heineken really did a great job building bridges and highlighting the beauty of humanity over a discussion and a cold brewski. And, all of that in a beer ad! 

4. Least favourite campaign

Anything that made me roll my eyes, fall asleep or curse my computer for imposing upon me some kind of creative that wasn’t contextual or relevant or even mildly entertaining or educational or inspiring. Brands that go for a hard-sell without a necessary wooing period put me right off.

5. Your own biggest success

2017 was a great year on all fronts for me. I was able to attend VidCon in Anaheim and geek out with some of the biggest names in content, and then had the absolute pleasure of speaking at the inaugural VidCon Australia in Melbourne. I’ve also found much joy in doing more work across Auckland’s Rainbow communities as co-chair of the Auckland Pride Board.

My biggest success this year? family and friends. I recently married the most gorgeous human being on the planet and have spent more time relishing in motherhood. On top of everything, I’ve made it through the year with a smile on my face. Look out 2018!

6. Most significant launch/innovation/thing of the year

This is really, super geeky – but hear me out. Being a social media OG, it takes a lot (or actually, very little done very right) to really get me revved up when it comes to exciting innovations/things/trends/launches.

So, it’s only fitting then that the Instagram ‘Live Collaboration’ functionality is my 2017 choice. Launched just about the time that I was in Melbourne for VidCon Australia this past September, I have been intrigued by how brands and influencers have been utilizing this functionality.

I truly believe that the power of social media isn’t in ad spend or reach but in the strength and influence of joined communities. Therefore launching something that allows brands and creators alike to bring their messages, creativity, and community bases together (all in one easily digestible place) is a powerhouse functionality that really excites me.

Even more recently, users are able to request to go live with others which serves to level playing fields while also getting all of us closer to content we’re invested in, and connected with. My advice if you’re a brand or creator looking to reach audiences different to yours? Collaborate on Instagram live.

7. What should be un-invented?

High-top flip-flops (they’re a thing) and talking toilets. The flip-flops are just plain weird and seem highly dangerous to people with ankles that are pre-disposed to turning. Talking toilets, that’s just a ‘nope’ from me. I’m okay with the fancy flushers and multi-channel buttons on loos but please don’t talk to me during/afterwards. #KTHXBYE

8. Lamest trend

Charcoal errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrthang. Toothpaste, facial pore masks, pills, the whole lot. I’m a huge fan of health trends from the mundane to the ridiculous. But too much is just too much.

9. Best brands

I love this question – mostly because I am such a brand-fangirl when it really comes down to it. In New Zealand terms, smaller brands are doing things really well. Brands like All Birds, Ask Nicely, Rogue Society Gin and Seventh Day Studio are fun and funky.

If I had to choose one big brand in New Zealand as my favourite it would have to be Les Mills International. The team at LMI create some amazing content and are a global powerhouse. Its commitment to community, social causes, and making the planet a fitter place is awesome to see reflected in their campaign work. 

As for bigger global brands, I can’t pass up Nike and Qantas. They’re both killing it in the content marketing and social media marketing spaces. Fangirl much? Yep!

Also, a big shout-out to Levi’s, Vans and anything 90s that have come back big time this year. I am both absolutely excited about, and horrified by, the fact that my peak-fashion years are back and trending. Also, I give props to the brands who are bringing back the amazing, grunge-laden, flannel-filled days of yore. Onya!

10. Best stoush

2017 could quite easily be renamed ‘The Year of the Stoush’. Whether it was late night hosts or all non-conservative news media outlets vs Trump, baulking attempts at war talk in North Korea, or Hollywood vs Weinstein and co, this was a year made up of debate, social uprisings and rights’ movements. Therefore, I have to choose 2017 on the whole as best stoush as the entire year has been about chop and change.

11. Heroes

Every single person, female and male alike, brave enough to make the #MeToo movement what it is. I thank them for their voices, their strength and their fearlessness in the face of adversity. For little moments and big acts of resistance alike, The Silence Breakers amongst us are my heroes of the year.

12. Villains

The people who caused the above heroes strife, pain, humiliation and hurt.

13. What died in 2017?

Did the dab die? I haven’t seen anyone doing that for a while. Shame, really. I loved a great humble-dab timed just right. My 11-year-old also tells me that fidget spinners and the ‘Pen-pineapple-apple-pen’ craze has fizzled as well. Go figure. 

I also think, as cliché as this sounds, a lot of jargon died in 2017. As marketers, creators and storytellers, the amount of fluff in everyday speak and interaction just wasn’t adding up to impactful results. It seemed a lot of unknowns were hidden behind slang. So we’ve had to dive into authentic, sometimes uncomfortable, conversations to deliver results. I’m stoked for 2018 and doing amazing work.  

14. What’s the biggest mistake marketers will make in 2018?

Jumping on the ‘influencer train’ just because everyone else is. It’s imperative for brands to remember that influencer marketing is all about, well, influence. Funny that! It’s not about someone with the biggest reach, loudest voice, prettiest face, etc.

True influence can’t be bought and sold. Do your homework with influencers. Get to know them, their storytelling styles, their passions, and their communities. Then, and only then, jump in as a brand. And, try your darndest to trust people to tell genuine stories to engaged communities they’ve built up over time.

15. What’s the most Black Mirror/ sci-fi horror thing likely to happen in the near future?

Though not hugely sci-fi, but fitting more into the highly likely category: Trump. North Korea. Nuclear football. Handmaids Tale in real life. Will just leave it right there and thank my lucky stars that I’m living in beautiful, mostly rational Aotearoa. Doom and gloom isn’t usually my style… but, sheesh.

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