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Best Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

When the nation went into Lockdown, the Royal New Zealand Returned & Services’ Association and New Zealand Defence Force were forced to completely rethink traditional Anzac Day celebrations.


The Challenge 

For over 100 years, Anzac Day has been of huge significance to New Zealand. In 2020 however, due to Covid-19 and for the first time in history, Anzac Day services were cancelled. With only one month until Anzac Day and while under lockdown, a small team of five from the NZDF and RNZRSA needed to provide a focal point for the country to rally around. 

The challenge was to provide an alternative solution for those wanting to commemorate without venturing into public spaces and gathering with others, thus breaking their bubbles. As a result, Stand At Dawn was born. The team carefully considered campaign wording, ensuring they were in compliance with government messaging and supporting social distancing measures. The tagline “Apart, but together as one” and hashtag #StandAtDawn became central to the campaign. 

The Response

Because the RSA had spent its marketing budget for the annual Poppy Appeal and NZDF weren’t able to commit budget, desired reach had to be found elsewhere. Stepping away from traditional marketing methodology, they encouraged organisations to take Stand At Dawn key messaging and adapt it to their audience. ANZ Bank went against convention and pointed its audience to the Stand At Dawn website, rather than its own. 

To create an engaged community, a Facebook page was made. Hashtags were implemented, which were tracked and captured on Hootsuite. Twitter was approached to ensure a Poppy emoji appeared when the #StandAtDawn hashtag was used. A Stand At Dawn website provided event information as well as suggesting family activity ideas. The website also captured email and mobile details, allowing the NZDF and RNZRSA to send emails and SMS notifications. 

TVNZ and Mediaworks actively promoted Stand At Dawn, along with personal support from TV personalities such as Hilary Barry. Newshub promoted Stand At Dawn on three consecutive nights and Mike McRoberts fronted an advert at no cost. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern highlighted Stand At Dawn on April 23 in the daily press conference, causing a spike in web traffic and social media activity. 

The Result 

The Stand At Dawn goal was to capture the hearts of Kiwis, an objective not easily defined through statistics. But by the numbers, Stand At Dawn was the most successful online concept ever undertaken by NZDF and RNZRSA.

The Facebook event reached more than 700,000, with almost 35,000 responses. NZDF gained more than 10,000 new followers across Facebook. Across all social networks, related hashtags such as #StandAtDawn totalled 18 million across New Zealand. Globally, total impressions for hashtags attached to the Twitter Anzac Day emoji was 528 million. The website attracted 118,000 visits and generated over 7000 subscribers. Additionally, more than 2000 signed up for SMS notifications. The RSA Facebook page gained an increase of 1,500 followers. Feedback was universally positive, with a number of individuals stating that it was one of the most moving Anzac Day events they had ever attended.

Entry details

Category: Best Marketing on a Shoestring Budget
Company: Royal New Zealand Returned & Services’ Association
Marketing Initiative: Stand At Dawn – NZDF & RNZRSA
Marketing Partners: New Zealand Defence Force
Judge’s Comments: “The RSA had one month to change a major, long standing remembrance programme to generate engagement in a cultural moment. RSA leveraged its free channels to engage a movement. It was a magic moment creating something out of nothing.”
Finalists: Uren Barsal, Cardrona Alpine Resort


This article was originally published in the December/January 2020 issue of NZ Marketing. You can subscribe to the magazine, here. Or read the other winner stories, here.

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