With the voting turnout on a steady decline across New Zealand and specifically New Plymouth, the local district council had a goal to change this at the 2022 elections.
The New Plymouth District Council headed into the 2022 local elections with one goal, stop the decline of votes with a budget of $30,000.
But it wasn’t going to be easy for the district council which also was faced with a new year of a confusing new single-transferable-vote (STV) electoral system, a complex new ward structure that included the new Māori ward and of course, voter apathy.
In order to make this a successful campaign, the district council first needed to target who their audience is. They were residents aged 35 to 54 who were somewhat interested in the issues of their community but also felt that voting was another bit of admin, apathetic, lack familiarity on the running candidates and are engaged and influenced by digital platforms.
New Plymouth District Council was able to target this group of people through a campaign, launched six months prior to the election through four phases to help them move along the journey of voting.
Phase one began three months before the election and was all about showcasing all the amazing things about New Plymouth while also connecting them to the council, highlighting the importance of voting from the get-go.
Phase two was all about increasing candidate numbers by showing how easy it was to run, but also all about raising awareness about the importance of community involvement further than voting.
Phase three focused on empowering the community with simple and accessible information through the Vote22 website, housing bios and photos of each candidate and their answers to eight questions that ranged from climate change to Three Waters.
The final phase, phase four was the voting stage, a provocative campaign that cut through audience apathy, linking voting to issues that they would care about.
This campaign ran across paid, earned and owned media on places such as YouTube, TVNZ, Stuff and more, mixed in with the use of print, billboard, radio and more.
The result? Voter numbers increased by almost 1600. New Plymouth was able to beat the nation who had a declining turnout, and also heightened interest with 181,000 views on the Vote22 website and a candidate increase of 32 percent.
A different approach to local elections paid off for New Plymouth in comparison to the rest of the country, the district council was all about educating and engaging the audience which ultimately achieved the goal.
Best Marketing Campaign on a Shoestring Budget
New Plymouth District Council
New Plymouth District Council Vote22 Campaign
Words for Breakfast
The judges were impressed by the insight-led approach to setting objectives for the campaign, really building in voter concerns and barriers to engagement. A provocative and engaging creative approach, supported by a strong multi-layered media touchpoint strategy. We’d love to see all councils taking such a powerful approach to engaging people in local body politics.
Cancer Society, Squirrel
This article was originally published in the September/October 2023 issue of NZ Marketing. Click here to subscribe.