VML New Zealand to feature at North American Social Marketing Conference in May

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VML New Zealand to feature at North American Social Marketing Conference in May

VML New Zealand, along with its clients Statistics NZ and Health NZ, has been selected to present two behaviour change campaigns at the prestigious North American Social Marketing Conference (NASMC) in May this year.


This comes after two exemplar campaigns by VML, ‘Stick it to Hep C’ and ‘Tatau Tātou: All of Us Count’, were chosen by the organising committee to be shared with conference attendees.

Says Fleur Head, managing director, VML: “This is a golden opportunity to shine the light on a unique New Zealand approach to behaviour change on a global platform.

“Aotearoa has a proud history of being one of the world leaders in behaviour change campaigns, so it’s a real privilege for us to be able to speak to two of ours.”

In line with this year’s conference theme, ‘A dose of hope: Uniting minds, inspiring change’, the team at VML Wellington will speak about the equitable approach they took to create these campaigns, both of which had a significant and positive impact on target audiences.

The agency will be represented by Anna Gunnell, head of planning, who was the strategic lead in both campaigns.

Says Gunnell: “This year’s theme has strong alignment with our organisation’s core philosophy, which is centred around creating genuine connections that drive positive change in Aotearoa. This belief system has enabled us to switch things up on traditional social marketing to make sure we can create the most impact possible.

“In the case of ‘Stick it to Hep C’, we had to find a creative way to address stigma. Standard approaches would have emphasised increasing knowledge, but our research showed this could have inadvertently intensified stigma and further alienated the audience.

“We chose instead to celebrate the rebellious spirit of the audience and used attitude to combat shame. In doing so, ‘Stick it to Hep C’ became New Zealand’s most talked-about social marketing initiative for 2022. Testing rates leaped 150%, and positive tests soared 1000%, meaning people most at-risk were responding.

“Our campaign for Census 2023, called Tatau Tātou, was just as unique in its approach. Rather than focusing on the 70% majority of New Zealanders who were most likely to participate, we focused instead on the 30% minority – those who were disenfranchised, questioning the governments’ intentions, and growing in mistrust after COVID-19.

“Traditional marketing had failed to motivate these audiences in the past, so we dedicated resource and time to create a campaign that resonated with them and moved them to participate. As a result, overall census participation increased from 83% in 2018 to 90% in 2023 with priority audiences such as Māori, Pacific, and youth experiencing notable increments.

“In saying all of that, none of the success we’ve experienced would have been possible without our clients and partners. They’ve enabled us to push out the boat and try new and innovative approaches for creating behaviour change. This recognition belongs just as much to them as it does us.”

VML New Zealand to feature at North American Social Marketing Conference in May