Year in Review: Caroline Rainsford, Google

Every year, StopPress asks players in the local industry for their reflections on the year that was. Here’s what Caroline Rainsford, Country Director at Google, had to say.

  1. Favourite local campaign

Both local and world leading, the New Zealand government’s Unite Against COVID-19 campaign was impactful, effective and recognised as the best in the world. Clear and consistent communication was critical to the success of our national response to COVID, and the simplicity, recognisable imagery and effective media mix to reach Kiwis when they were looking for information, made this campaign really impressive. I’m so proud of the contribution my team at Google made to assisting the government with this effort.

2. Favourite international campaign

Coca Cola – Open Like Never Before. I love the way spoken word artist, George The Poet, who is obviously an expert in marking cultural and social change, draws on the experiences of many in this campaign. It was created and developed by 72andSunny Amsterdam, and is a really hopeful message for how this year’s experiences can be a positive moment for change in the future – what will we all do differently in a ‘new normal’.

George The Poet said: “The underlying message of this campaign is close to my heart. During my career I’ve always had to be open to the idea of change – switching from rap to poetry, from music to podcasts – being open gives you an advantage in all aspects of life. Covid-19 gave me a moment to reflect at a time when the world came to a standstill, made me more patient and adapt to different ways of working. Going forward I’m going to do what I can to seize the moment and be open to change like never before.”

3. Pick three words to describe 2020

3 C’s: Change, complex, challenging.

4. Most memorable moment from lockdown?

Reading the Google trends data in week one, it hit home how hard lockdown was for so many Kiwis. But also how many New Zealanders were downloading “HouseParty”! 

5. First thing you did in Level 1?

Went to Azubu, my favourite Japanese restaurant with my girlfriends.

6. First place you’ll travel to when borders open?

Sydney!! I miss my family there.

7. Heroes of 2020

All of the working parents who were able to keep it together through the curve-balls of 2020!

8. What have you learnt about the world this year?

At the end of 2019 I said that we’d learnt how profoundly our world is changing and how leadership can come from even the farthest and smallest corner of the world. At the end of 2020, I believe that sentiment to be truer than ever.

9. What personality trait got you in the most trouble this year?

My love of wearing Onesies.

10. What achievement are you most proud of this year?

Supporting the NZ government with the Covid communications and the community mobility reports.

11. Silver lining of 2020?

The changing nature of work and flexibility. It is amazing to see how much change we have made with flexibility and how we think about the future design of the Google NZ office. 

12. Best brands of 2020

Tourism NZ have made the most of a year where New Zealand’s borders have been closed and, you would think, a tourism message would be a tough sell. Yet despite this, their campaigns continued to connect with audiences and highlighted the strength and effectiveness of great creative. For example, Good Morning World, was a year-long campaign to keep New Zealand top-of-mind for the world developed by Tourism New Zealand with agency Special Group, and  featured everyday (a few notable) Kiwis saying ‘Good Morning’ to the world from around New Zealand for an entire year. 

13. Lamest trend of 2020

In my opinion the shortening to iso and rona – it just didn’t seem right to give such a monumental issue a casual nickname.

14. Best innovation

I’m probably biased, but the Google/Apple Exposure Notification Framework. Even Popular Science, when they announced their 33rd annual ‘Best of What’s New Awards’, named it Innovation of the Year – “a virus tracker that doesn’t track you”.

15. What died in 2020? 

Being chained to your work desk! This year has been incredible for freeing up the way we think about a traditional work day. Being at home, I was able to make work fit into my schedule in a way that I hadn’t been able to before. Now my work and life balance is better than ever, and everyone making that work for their own lives is so important.

16. Guilty Netflix obsession? 

Binge watching a series / going to bed late / and then feeling bereft – until the next one !! Loved The Queens Gambit, The Crown, Sex Education, Schitt’s Creek and Unbelievable.

17. Twitter or Instagram?

You’ll find me on LinkedIn!

18. What should be uninvented? 


19. What’s the biggest mistake marketers will make in 2021?

As borders begin to open and business returns to a more normal landscape, the temptation will be for brands to market as they have done in the past. Brands will need to adjust to the new consumer outlook and their revised expectations – check out the Think with Google article here which goes into detail how brands must consider, absorb, and reflect the real-world experiences and events that surround them.

Year in Review is brought to you by Discovery New Zealand.

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