An unknown entity, now known as Every Kiwi Vote Counts, set out to mobilise dismally participating overseas Kiwi voters to take part in New Zealand’s 2020 General Election.
Make it count
In July 2020, an independent, non-partisan initiative, initially named iVoteNZ, was set up to encourage overseas Kiwis to participate in our General Election. Previously, there had been little focused effort to encourage the overseas vote, beyond reminders if previously enrolled, newsletter mentions or the odd social post by political parties. While there was an overseas voting tab on the Electoral Commission site, Kiwis had to find their way there. But only one in 10 estimated eligible voters did so in 2017. Research suggested that while two-thirds of Kiwis wanted to vote, they lacked details on how. Qualitative interviews showed overseas Kiwis don’t think their vote matters and don’t feel they are allowed to vote. This campaign would require really seizing their attention.
The first task was to rename the initiative to Every Kiwi Vote Counts, being careful to avoid the same orange colours as the Electoral Commission. The second was to infiltrate overseas Kiwis’ news feeds by enlisting a Russian national, Viktor (‘The Meddler’) to lead a social campaign. Viktor’s edgy tone was merged with punchy graphics and links to the government voting site, and every day for 18 days, his videos and posts were promoted. Social networks ‘Kiwis in Australia’ and ‘Kiwis in London’ were infiltrated. While the Electoral Commission spends $6m to reach domestic Kiwis ($1.2m per one million voters), Every Kiwi Vote Counts had the equivalent of one percent social budget to reach one million overseas Kiwis. With sensitivity around the topic, they also had to personally register with Facebook for seven years, although the social networking site couldn’t guarantee the films wouldn’t be banned or approved for release. Press were pitched to ensure robust coverage, with all articles linked to EveryKiwiVoteCounts.nz.
In 18 days, Every Kiwi Vote Counts reached 382,000 (1 in 2.5) overseas Kiwis and achieved 80 million global impressions, worth $525,000 of earned media. With a 42 percent increase in overseas voters, some for the first time in 28 years, the highest overseas voter turnout in history was achieved, as well as the largest shift in electoral seats since 1999. Coverage appeared on TVNZ, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Guardian UK. For every dollar spent, ‘The Meddler’ returned nearly $10 of earned media. The campaign prompted reposts by Helen Clark and Shit You Should Care About (2.7m followers). Visitors to vote.nz from EveryKiwiVoteCounts.nz represented 67 percent of additional overseas resident votes. Australia shifted from 35 percent to 53 percent of total overseas vote downloads. Overseas votes also disproportionately contributed to a historic Ma–ori Party seat gain.
Category: Best Marketing on a Shoestring Budget
Company: Every Kiwi Vote Counts
Marketing Initiative: Meddle in the New Zealand Election
Marketing Partners: Special Group, Sweetshop, Poem
Judges’ Comments: “Ambitious, strong and innovative marketing approach, especially in a tough area – citizen voting. Good insights, a clever campaign approach, achieved significant results and on a budget of under $50k.”
Finalists: National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges Inc, NZSki