Chasing New Zealand’s big money questions

A clever concept and a pre-existing creative platform mixed with seamless collaboration was the recipe for the success of Together and Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission’s unique campaign Chasing Answers.

With a unique concept involving popular television game show The Chase backed up by insight showing that most people have a few questions about money but are too embarrassed to ask, Together and Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission created the award-winning campaign Chasing Answers. This campaign went on to win gold in three categories at the 2022 Beacon Awards: Social Marketing/Public Service, Best Small Budget, Best in Collaboration, and silver in Best Communication Strategy.

Every year Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission runs Sorted Money Week, a week-long public awareness campaign to trigger more dialogue among New Zealanders about money.

In 2021, Together was asked to help the Retirement Commission to help galvanise people to think about their money and drive more visitors to its consumer facing website sorted.org.nz.

Rufus Chuter, Together’s Managing Partner, says the campaign focused on leveraging Sorted Money Week to get more people to visit the website and engage with the resources and information available to help them better understand money.

Rufus Chuter.

To create real behavioural change, the team at Together knew they had to remove the “embarrassment handbrake” stopping people seeking help for their money questions.

“What we knew from behavioural economics is that if you can make people feel like its normal to feel a certain way, or normal to have certain questions, particularly really personal ones about money, then that can be a really powerful way of getting people to change their behaviour,” Chuter says.

“Normalising not knowing everything about money was at the heart of our strategy.”

It was during an early brainstorming session that the idea of involving The Chase was floated. 

“Someone at the brainstorm said ‘wouldn’t it be interesting if we could involve The Chase somehow’ and I think it was parked,” Chuter says.

“It was kind of one of those ideas that was like ‘oh wouldn’t it be cool. There’s no way we could be working with The Chase but I like your thinking’.”

However the idea of showing that even the smartest people in the world can’t answer some common money questions stuck.

“We just felt it was such a dramatic way of normalising not knowing everything about money, that we had to push for it.”

And with the help of TVNZ’s creative and production team Blacksand, and ITV, the company behind The Chase, it became a reality with a series of videos featuring chaser Paul ‘The Sinnerman’ Sinha produced.

To further normalise having money questions, Together created a series of digital outdoor advertising using insight from social listening, Google search data as well as engagement on the Sorted website to identify trending money questions in each location. These were then dynamically surfaced on the outdoor billboards.

An example of the DOOH advertising.

For online, the Together team created question and answer digital banners that asked the most popular money questions and allowed people to discover the correct answers in a chat message format. These questions were then constantly updated depending on what topics and questions were trending.

Chuter says one of the key elements to this campaigns success was that it was “founded on good insight”. This meant that not only did it resonate with a lot of people, but that it had a distinctive way of encouraging people to engage with a topic they might have otherwise pushed to the back of their mind.

“It genuinely was a very close collaboration not just between us and the marketers we were working with, but also with TVNZ and ITV, and the digital outdoor providers.

“There were so many different people involved in making this happen and everyone believed in it and the social purpose behind the work, so I’m particularly proud of that. It’s absolutely the kind of work that Together likes to do. More creative and distinctive uses of media that create change, and I’m just really proud of the whole team involved.”

Knowing how much New Zealanders enjoy watching The Chase, Lance Hipkins, TVNZ’s Head of Integration, leapt at the challenge of involving and localising the international format.

Lance Hipkins.

“The Chasers themselves have a strange affinity to New Zealand. They love the fact that this country at the bottom of the world loves their show so much.

“We work in a partnerships team and for us it really was that perfect partnership opportunity where we spread out not just with our local agency Together, who do some outstanding stuff, but across our strategy team, our creative team Blacksand and of course ITV across the other side of the world.”

The Blacksand team scripted up the concept and liked the idea of having a “plucky” Kiwi voice over asking The Chaser some tricky financial questions. Luckily ITV were on board to make it happen.

“They, like all production companies, have a pretty tight schedule and operating remotely from the other side of the world has its complexities, but it’s mainly about trust.

“We were really, really clear not just with the script, but with exactly where Paul was looking when he answered the questions. We worked on the whole look and feel to be exactly the same as the show. Sinnerman is even in the same outfit for our commercial content as he is for the [show]and it all worked brilliantly.

“The production company were fantastic, ITV were great and we were really, really proud of the result.”

Hipkins says the project tapped into something in New Zealanders psyche that loves it when our country is mentioned by a foreigner.

“We tapped into that cap in hand and we had those international celebrities commenting locally about our financial aspects.”

As for the collaboration involved in making this element of the campaign happen across countries, Hipkins says it was all down to “lots of touch points, lots of people working together to make this happen, smiling and saying yes”.

Appropriately the campaign also won gold for Best Small Budget and Lyndsey Francis, former marketing director for Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission, says building on an idea they had used previously meant the campaign was able to make their modest budget really work for them.

Lyndsey Francis.

The digital billboards were built around the phrase ‘just wondering’, a common preface to a question people might be hesitant to ask.

“We actually developed this for Sorted Money Week in 2020 and this was built on the insight, again, of people having all these questions but not feeling that comfortable asking them, so you preface something like that with ‘just wondering’.

“It makes it feel really accessible and it was particularly notable that during Covid the first time around, people realised they needed to know more about money. This developed a really strong platform that was super accessible for Kiwis to ask those questions and that we could build on.”

Instead of investing in a whole new idea, Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission was able to build and improve on it.

“That allowed for the media innovation,” says Francis. “Together helped us take it to the next level as well with the conversational banners.”

Extending the campaign also meant the Retirement Commission was able to leverage the valuable insights gained during 2020, a financially difficult year that meant people were more open to discussing money, says Kelly Phillips, Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission Marketing and Content Lead.

“All the insights we’d seen around Covid and loads of questions that people had about money continued. People were confused and were seeing Kiwisaver balances drop. There were lots of concerns so we wanted to reassure people.”

She also says the campaign allowed the Retirement Commission to reach a broader priority audience of people 18-35-years old, women, Māori and Pasifika people.

“It was the perfect way to achieve a couple of things. It gave us broad reach with our priority audiences in terms of [The Chase] being really popular and on prime time television but also the format blurred the lines between advertising and being a show. Integrating the formatting of the show made it engaging and innovative and reinforced to the Kiwi public that even the smartest people don’t have all the answers. Sinnerman being puzzled by a couple of Kiwi financial questions was social proof that people weren’t alone in not knowing all the answers and it’s a great time to ask.”

As for the awards, Francis says the team were “really, really thrilled”.

“We were amongst great competition. We were really pleased to see that we were on the finalist list and see the great brands around us and delighted to get the win.”

She says to pull off a campaign like this was a “huge challenge” with a small budget to get people to engage in financial literacy.

“It’s something that people really know they need to do, but for many reasons they are reluctant. So finding those ways in to stop the apathy and to give people the confidence to do so, is the challenge in that job. This campaign came with such a clear insight that it sort of disarmed people to take that step that we wanted them to take.”

About Author

Ayla Miller is a Feature Writer/Sub-editor for SCG Media Business titles, NZ Marketing, StopPress, Idealog and The Register.