Electoral Commission: Māori Electoral Option

A campaign for the Electoral Commission, created in partnership with our friends at RUN Aotearoa.

FCB Aotearoa, RUN Aotearoa and the Electoral Commission have worked together to create an awareness campaign around significant changes to the Māori Electoral Option.

Sand Unity Kotahitanga builds on previous Māori Electoral Option campaigns centred around The Sandman aka artist Marcus Winter (Te Roroa, Ngāpuhi), who creates whakairo-inspired artworks using the medium of sand. This time, Marcus is out of his small studio, and surrounded by space, light and friends, all participating in making one of his jaw dropping creations on a giant lightbox.

Beacon Awards 2021

FCB Media has again dominated the 2021 Communications Council Beacon Awards, held at Shed 10 in Auckland on 13 May.

The agency won the coveted Best in Show for its campaign for Fire & Emergency NZ, “Fire Doesn’t Wait”, a campaign which helped Kiwis realise the unimaginable reality of house fires and the need to create an escape plan. This was the 7th Best in Show gong secured by the agency in the last ten years of the Beacons.

In addition the agency had the highest medal tally of any agency on the night, with 11 golds and 6 silvers.

Commenting on the Best in Show for Fire & Emergency NZ, Anne Lipsham, Head of Strategy at FCB Media commented, “Asking people to complete escape plans was no easy task, especially in a year like 2020. Genuine collaboration between our media team, client, creative, data teams and our media partners like TVNZ, was the key to being able to produce something pretty special. No ego’s or agenda’s, just focussing on what was going to get people to take action.”

FCB Media was also the only agency to win gold in three key digital categories: Best use of Data (Water Safety NZ), Best use of Technology (Mitre 10) and Best use of Social (PAK’nSAVE). They remain one of only two agencies to win gold in the data category since it was introduced in 2016.

Kate Grigg, Head of Digital Marketing at FCB Media said,  “We’re particularly proud to win four golds across three key digital categories. Having specialists such as performance, data and tech and digital production all under one roof, is such an advantage for creating great work.”

Managing Director of FCB Media, Blair Alexander commented, “We’ve put a lot of work in the last 18 months on our new comms planning process, underpinning it with the best tools from Mediabrands and FCB’s global network. And these awards are validation that our new approach is working. Our clients are telling us they increasingly value agency services, such as strategic planning, consumer insights, data and tech and we’ve managed to combine these into one cohesive solution in response.”

Alexander also paid tribute to his team, saying, “Ultimately we couldn’t have achieved this success for our clients without our people. Not only did we invest in new specialist talent, but also in record levels of training to continue to develop skillsets reflective of client ambitions. It was also great to back with our industry colleagues in person, after the virtual Beacons last year.”

Full List:

Best in Show – Fire & Emergency NZ, Fire Doesn’t Wait

Gold – Social Marketing or Public Service : Fire & Emergency NZ, Fire Doesn’t Wait

Gold – Consumer Services : Westpac NZ, Confidence Crisis

Gold – Best Use of Technology : Mitre 10, Finding Future Renovators Today

Gold – Best Use of Technology : The Electoral Commission, The Voter Concierge

Gold – Best Use of Data : Water Safety NZ, Personalising Danger

Gold – Best Use of Social : Foodstuffs, inStickman

Gold – Creative Media Idea : Fire & Emergency NZ, Fire Doesn’t Wait

Gold – Best Use of Insight : Westpac NZ, Confidence Crisis

Gold – Best Communications Strategy : Westpac NZ, Confidence Crisis

Gold – Best Communications Strategy : Fire & Emergency NZ, Fire Doesn’t Wait

Gold – Best Collaboration : Fire & Emergency NZ and TVNZ, Ads on Fire!

Silver – Social Marketing or Public Service : Water Safety NZ, Personalising Danger

Silver – Social Marketing or Public Service : The Electoral Commission, The Voter Concierge

Silver – Retail or Etail : Mitre 10, Finding Future Renovators Today

Silver – Best Small Budget : Foodstuffs, inStickman

Silver – Best Communications Strategy : Water Safety NZ, Personalising Danger

Silver – Most Effective : Mitre 10, Finding Future Renovators Today

Switch off before you walk off

Addressing the issue of unattended cooking with Josh Emett

Fire and Emergency New Zealand, together with renowned chef Josh Emett, address the main cause of house fires in New Zealand: unattended cooking. This issue is particularly relevant during NZ’s Level 4 lockdown timeframe, when the campaign was launched.

Mastering Organic Search Queries

Key considerations to help brands master their website content and their ranking for organic search queries, from Marie Taupiac.

A few years ago, the way to optimise your page for keywords was straightforward. In 3 steps, you could optimise your page for any search query:

1). Choose the keywords for your page,
2). Implement them in strategic positions within the content,
3). Then, create internal and external links to the page. 

Nowadays, search engine algorithms and the answers they’re programmed to provide have evolved to such an extent that they can nearly instantaneously give you the number of minutes it takes to an boil egg or the names of the Queen’s sons!

Moving beyond traditional search engine results, local businesses can now appear on enhanced map views, automatically displaying their name alongside a phone number, address and links to their products. These sorts of changes have come from enhancements to the understanding and processing of search queries, and the introduction of what is known as NLP (Natural Language Processing). According to Wikipedia, Natural Language Processing is the act of “programming computers to process and analyse large amounts of natural language data and understand the meaning of the queries to provide a relevant result for the user.”

So, what does this mean for the set-up of your website? Technically, you still need to optimise your page for the user’s search queries, but the writing process changes a bit.  

Take, for example, the behaviour of people looking for visas in NZ and the US.

Why are keywords not enough?

Search engines’ algorithms have improved enough over the years to understand the difference between US citizens looking for a visa to go to NZ, and vice versa, even though the keywords will be the same in both cases: US, NZ and visa. 

It’s the position connectors here that hold the meaning of the query. The search engines’ ability to identify this nuance not only means that relevant pages will receive higher quality traffic, but also that they will be able to provide greater value to the reader and make the user come back. 

Think first about content quality

Because Google’s understanding of the language has increased over the years, it is able to determine if your page contains a complete checklist, opinion or review, and also can tell if your content will bring value to the reader.

Now, more than ever, the content creation focus should be on providing value and quality for the reader. The web is full of articles that are too generic, too similar to each other and don’t answer the user’s needs. By creating a unique, valuable and complete piece of content, you are making sure that you will not only satisfy the user, but also help your page to rank in a better position for related keywords. 

Use semantics analysis

Another recurring topic in SEO is keyword synonyms or related words. How can we ensure the same, relevant page appears, for example, for visa queries about travelling to NZ from the US, America, USA, North America, and all the different states?

Google is able to understand some synonyms and, in particular cases, can substitute one with another. The real question is not so much about direct synonyms, but the idea conveyed by words: for example, that the search results for Americans, US citizens and residents from other, specific states who are looking for a visa to go to New Zealand will be the same, because the process for all Americans is the same. 

However, if we take, for example, a website that is selling a bike, writing a page without speaking about gears or wheels would not make sense, and would be unlikely to not rank for “buy bike” synonym queries. 

This what we call semantics. “Semantics” refers to the concepts or ideas conveyed by words. Semantic analysis is about making any topic (or search query) easy for a machine to understand. Think about your page as an aggregation of words about the same topic. For the Americans going to NZ, we can consider: visitor’s visa, custom and border protection, apply online, embassy or consulate, visa fees. The overall words association will help the search engine to understand the purpose of your content, and make the page rank for related terms that are not in necessary included in the content of your page, but convey the same idea. 

The power of using topic clusters

Optimising a page is only the first step, you must also consider how your website appears as a topic

For example, if your website, overall, speaks about travel for Americans and the travel visas you need, your website will be optimised for all the different variations of USA words and visa words. None of the pages will necessarily rank on their own; it is only the combination of your pages and the different links you have between them that makes them rank. This is what we call a topic cluster

Topic clusters are a multitude of content pieces that live on your website and are all linked to a common, overarching subject. If executed properly, topic clusters can be the catalyst that launches your website to the top of the search engine results pages.  

Are we moving away from keywords?

Keywords will always be a way to analyse trends, people’s needs and questions. They will always be an essential part of SEO and will still need to be implemented within content. However, keywords are no longer the only part of the optimisations needed to make users visit your website; we need to consider the value of the content, semantics and cluster topics in order to be able to serve the best material for the search engine and the end users—in turn, driving the best case results.

Kiss Oil Goodbye

In the latest evolution of Mercury’s Energy Made Wonderful campaign we’re encouraging Kiwis to break up with their old gas guzzling partners and make the move to a cleaner, happier future.

Mercury’s new brand campaign, launching this week, calls on Kiwis to “kiss oil goodbye” and join the electric revolution.

The aim of the new campaign is to support a more sustainable future by encouraging Kiwis to break up with petrol and diesel vehicles in favour of the growing choice of EVs and other electric transport options.

Commenting on the campaign, Chief Strategy Officer, David Thomason said, “Kanye West’s ‘Jesus Walks’ was the soundtrack to our strategy session. We were all feeling so personally inspired and revolutionary that it almost seemed trivial to be talking about a brand campaign. But this is how customers must choose brands today. We’ve been building to this campaign for years. Mercury are being provocative because the cause is not a marketing bolt-on, like so many brands have done. The environment’s central to everything they do, and now they need New Zealanders to join in making it happen.”

Chief Marketing Officer Julia Jack says moving away from petrol and diesel cars is one of the most impactful changes we can all make to reduce our individual and collective impact on the environment.

“It’s time to say goodbye to our old modes of transport because there’s a better alternative. The electricity we generate and use in New Zealand is over 80% renewable and that’s growing. It’s a massive natural advantage we have over many parts of the world. We don’t need to be importing and burning fossil fuels for transport when we have better, healthier and cheaper options,” Julia says.


The campaign is told through the lens of typical Kiwis who all have fond memories of their old vehicles but kiss them goodbye and then find freedom and happiness with new electric options that are right for them.

The campaign includes TVCs, Out of Home including billboards, adshels and street posters, digital banners and a social campaign asking New Zealander’s to take the pledge and “Kiss Oil Goodbye”. Mercury’s website and content has also been fully redesigned to support the campaign.

The television commercial was directed by Nathan Price and edited by 2020 Academy Award nominee Tom Eagles (nominated for his work on Jojo Rabbit).

The campaign is substantiated by several initiatives to enable Kiwis to try electric transport including extending the Drive EV-by-subscription service, and partnering with a global operator, JUMP, renowned for innovative e-bike and e-scooters.  

 “We know there’ll be people who can’t easily say goodbye to their internal combustion engine vehicles or don’t want to, and that’s okay. It isn’t about pointing any fingers; it is about opening the door a little wider to those who are ready to consider a change in habits, and to get a few more to that point of consideration.

Through the campaign we want to show that while change might seem difficult, once you’ve taken the first step, it can be wonderful,” concluded Julia.

Better Safe than Syphy

With the help of FCB, the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) and Durex are setting out to tackle this problem and put it back where it belongs; in the dark ages.

“Syphilis? That’s something from hundreds of years ago, right?” That’s the general reaction when you talk to people about New Zealand’s very real, and very 21st century problem with this archaic sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Syphilis has become such a problem in this country, that it’s now at its highest levels ever. In fact, syphilis diagnoses have increased from approximately 200 in 2014 to over 1,500 last year.  

With the help of FCB, the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) and Durex are setting out to tackle this problem and put it back where it belongs; in the dark ages.

“Syphilis is not something many people thought they’d have to worry about in their lifetimes, so there’s a real lack of knowledge about it,” says NZAF Marketing, Communications & Fundraising Manager, Mickey Power.

“People are not schooled up on its symptoms, the way it’s transmitted or how to find out if they have contracted it.

“NZAF is on a mission to end new HIV transmissions in Aotearoa by 2025, which largely affects gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. Given 70% of new syphilis cases are also being seen in our communities, we knew we had some work to do increasing knowledge and testing to help keep them safer and bring those new diagnosis numbers down.”

The campaign task is to educate, and that reaction of, “Really? Syphilis is still a thing?” became the insight. 

The campaign focuses on creating a “clash of eras”. We took modern hook-up language and situations, and inserted a character out of time – someone in 16thcentury garb, looking to proposition partners. Modern pick-up lines, such as “Down to f*ck?” have been given a Shakespearean makeover – “Art thee down to fornicate?” Even Kiwi classics took on a dated feel – “Dost thou wanteth a root?”

In the dating app, Grindr, the campaign borrows from the vernacular of the medium, as men-out-of-time proposition users with lines like “Upeth to?” and “May I behold thine aubergine?”

As this campaign is aimed at helping LGBTIQ+ community members play safer, the talent was sourced from these communities. Working with models like drag queen and activist Medulla Oblongata, further added to the authenticity of the message. 

The historic look was achieved in collaboration with the Pop-up Globe Theatre and stylist Lucy Jane Senior. Authentic period costumes were created for each model and Abi Taylor provided era-appropriate hair and make-up, including a bespoke wig made for Medulla in the style of Queen Elizabeth I.

Combine these meticulous details with the artful lighting and skill of photographer Ross Brown, and the result is portraits that look like they stepped out of a 16th century painting, contrasted by undeniably modern backdrops. 

Power continues,“Syphilis is very dangerous and can eventually be fatal if left untreated, so we teamed up with FCB to raise awareness about this outbreak in a way that would get our communities’ attention. Syphilis can often be symptomless – so the main message is for people to get tested regularly.”  

“Realistically, to really make sure we can leave syphilis transmissions in the past, we also need people to embrace safe sex. To further encourage this and keep playing safe front-of-mind, we’ve made thousands of condom wallets with safety messages like, ‘Cloak thy tallywacker’, ‘Wrappeth thy pecker’ and ‘Sheath thy wang’, to be distributed at venues, by order and at community events.”

Tony Clewett, Chief Creative Officer at FCB said, “To halt Syphilis in its tracks, we needed an engaging and thought-provoking campaign that our audience simply couldn’t ignore. I’m thrilled we’ve achieved it with a powerful message that was not only beautifully executed, but brings a smile to your face. A big thanks to everyone who went above-and-beyond to make it happen.”

Kiss Oil Goodbye

This campaign aims to support a more sustainable future by encouraging Kiwis to break up with petrol and diesel vehicles in favour of the growing choice of EV's and other electric transport options.


Easy As

We introduced ‘Easy As’, an end to end campaign, including over 80 minutes of online content that would inspire and inform the consumer on DIY skills.

We introduced ‘Easy As’, an end to end campaign, including over 80 minutes of online content that would inspire and inform the consumer on DIY skills. We ensured that Mitre 10 emotionally owned and was intrinsically linked to the territory.

With over 2.7 million views and in-store sale increases, we proved retail can be more than just price and promotions.


We identified 28 different demographic and psychographic buyer groups. We itemised their specific barriers and motivations to purchase and matched them to 14 different Tiguan proof points.

This meant fitting the Tiguan to the buyer, not the buyer to the Tiguan and reconciling industry tensions of personalisation and scale. So we created an NZ-first programmatic dynamic video solution.

We identified 28 different demographic and psychographic buyer groups. We itemised their specific barriers and motivations to purchase and matched them to 14 different Tiguan proof points that could deliver. The result was 1,250 unique digital ads and Volkswagen’s most successful campaign to date.