Motion Sickness cooks up Effie success

This year at the 2023 Aotearoa Effie Awards, Motion Sickness not only secured its most substantial Effies haul to date but took out the coveted ‘Hardest Challenge’ Award for its work with Fire and Emergency NZ. Off the back of this, StopPress caught up with Executive Creative Director, Sam Stuchbury, and Head Of Strategy, Hilary Ngan Kee to find out what went into the winning work and what exactly was the ‘hardest challenge’?

After experiencing significant growth over the past two years and winning clients such as Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission and Big Save Furniture, it’s not shocking that independent agency Motion Sickness has received more than 100 awards in the last year, acknowledging its skills in strategy and creativity.

Seven of these were awarded at the recent 2023 Aotearoa Effie Awards for work done with Fire and Emergency NZ and Whānau Ora, and included the ‘Hardest Challenge’ award for ‘You’re Cooked’.

So what was the hardest challenge deemed impressive enough to take out this dedicated prize?

As the Effie judges said: “It’s really hard to connect with people who are hungry, even more so when they are pissed.”

According to Hilary, a behaviour change campaign is “never an easy task”. “With this kind of work, there’s nowhere to hide. This was compounded by the fact that the audience we were trying to connect with were historically not engaged with Fire and Emergency NZ’s communications, and hadn’t shifted, despite some really strong efforts over years.

“We had to really meet the audience in the middle, with a strategic solution that would get to the core of the safer behaviours we needed to make happen – all while delivering the message in a way that was appropriate for the audience’s easy-going, ‘it won’t happen to me’ world,” she says.

Developed in collaboration with Chef Jamie Johnston of Everybody Eats, You’re Cooked is a recipe book made up of recipes that are safer to put together for under-the-influence cooks, in a move to prevent fires caused by inattentive cooking.

The judges commended this campaign for demonstrating a profound understanding of the audience and utilising clever insights to create impactful content with intoxicated individuals, ultimately driving long-term behavioural change.

Motion Sickness’s work with Whānau Ora to boost Census participation among underrepresented communities in Auckland, also won the agency recognition at the Effies.

In order to connect people with their local pride, Motion Sickness created a bespoke pop-up store, decked out with exclusive merch for each area code — none of which were available or for sale anywhere else. The only way people could get a piece of gear and rep their suburb was by completing their Census form — a strategy that saw outstanding results.

Hilary says these two projects are very reflective of Motion Sickness as an agency. In both cases, taking a problem that’s not new, and seeing how we can look at it in a different way. We might not have taken the most direct or traditional route to the solution, but with both methodical and empathetic strategy, and creative that’s really in tune with that strategy, it’s proof that being bold can work.”

She adds that in both cases having a client partner who they had built trust with was a contributing factor to the project’s success.

“And of course for both of those projects, they’re extra sweet because of the real positive difference to the world being effective in our work will make.”

Reflecting on the past year, Stuchbury says it’s been a wild ride with client wins and a growing team. Not to mention briefs that keep the team “on their toes”.“It’s been nice that while we’ve been growing, and against the backdrop of what has been a challenging year for Aotearoa, we’ve kept the heart and uniqueness of what makes Motion Sickness, Motion Sickness. We’re looking forward to what next year brings.”

The Motion Sickness team take centre stage at the 2023 Aotearoa Effie Awards.

As for what they learnt from these two awarded projects, Sam says a key lesson for him is that “fortune really does favour the brave”.

“In my opinion, one of the biggest risks when it comes to being ineffective is being boring and ignorable, rather than taking a risk itself. Particularly within the behaviour change space. People’s attention is harder than ever to gain, if you want ground-breaking results you need ground-breaking strategy and creativity.”

So following such a hectic few years, what’s next? “Our vision for the future isn’t that complicated,” Sam says. “We  just want to keep doing world class work right here from New Zealand. We have recently expanded the team to give us capacity to work with more brands, and are moving into larger stand-alone premises in the New Year to accommodate the growing team. The new office is shaping up to be pretty unique, it’s a playground for adults, whose hobbies include advertising.”

He adds that despite all the wins, agencies need to remain humble enough to know there is still more to learn.

“So with the caveat that we don’t think we’ve cracked it yet, someone did say to us when we came off the stage at Effies ‘You guys are doing amazing work and it kinda seems like you’re having too much fun doing it.’ Advertising should be fun. It’s the magic and the people you get to work with that makes this industry what it is. Enjoying the process, and creating work that gets results don’t have to be mutually exclusive.”

To read more behind the scenes articles on the standout winners at the 2023 Aotearoa Effies Awards click here.

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