New Zealand’s commercial radio industry is just a little bit different, with stations that push boundaries for audiences and advertisers alike. The Radio Bureau is leading the charge – and its electoral enrolment campaign is a case study in how collaboration can work a treat.
"We like it when stations say ‘Sure!’ to our ingenious ideas, rather than ‘Surely not?’”, says TRB interactive manager Mark Banbrook. “And we really like it when stations pull together for industry- spanning initiatives.”
So when the Electoral Enrolment Centre (EEC) needed to drive youth enrolment in the lead-up to the last election, TRB knew it was well-positioned to deliver something different through radio.
When it comes to vote enrolment, those aged 18-24 traditionally trail behind other demographics. Famously difficult to engage, they are the most likely to listen to peer advice and the least likely to respond to messaging that could be construed as condescending.
The EEC wanted to counter enrolment apathy with a fully integrated campaign that communicated in a peer-to-peer way and motivated the hard-to-reach demographic. And all this needed to happen in the middle of an extremely cluttered media landscape, including the Rugby World Cup and MMP referendum.
The EEC needed an engaging and memorable communication, thoroughly underpinned with strategic thinking. TRB branded content manager Darryl Paton says participation needed to be normalised, “making audiences feel that everyone else was voting, so they should be too”. Before long, they knew they had an answer: musicians.
Radio still leads the way when it comes to music discovery and if there’s one group that 18-24-year-olds connect with more than their favourite radio hosts, it’s the musicians whose music those hosts play. But it wasn’t the music TRB wanted this time, it was the musicians’ opinions. What better way to get youth thinking about voting than to use emotive messages from their favourite musicians, driven home with enrolment messages from the hosts?
The idea hinged on the radio industry pulling together and with TRB’s unique place in the market, it was perfectly positioned to coordinate a seamless campaign across five usually-competing youth brands: The Rock, The Edge, Mai FM, ZM and Flava.
TRB, The Radio Network and MediaWorks Radio pooled their expertise to find six hot Kiwi musicians to front the activity. The selected artists (Young Sid, Jimmy Christmas, Sam Harvey, K-One, Damian Alexander and Ria) reached out to fans across music genres to deliver highly personal stories revealing why they vote and why they thought everyone else should too. The musicians were filmed, photographed and recorded, with the resulting content forming the lynchpin of the campaign.
With the inspirational stories and targeted stations lined up, next was the instructional messaging, and to do this, TRB created a brand new on-air product, Election Liners. These were live 10-second motivational updates from the announcers to the listeners encouraging them to enrol. Next, 30-second announcer adlibs gave greater detail on the enrolment process. Together with station Facebook posts and e-letters, the announcer adlibs directed listeners to station websites where display advertising and video islands took them into EEC-branded station pages. For the first time ever – thanks to i-frames containing the enrolment forms on each branded page – listeners were able to enrol within radio station websites.
So on-air, musicians inspired listeners to think about voting, while announcers delivered the message and drove people to station websites for more information and action. The next layer of activity brought in the street teams from each station.
Street teams are experts in identifying and engaging target audiences to deliver client products and messaging.
Each team set to the task of delivering the enrolment message and forms to eligible youth on the streets of New Zealand. As testament to their effectiveness, the street teams alone enrolled over 800 people.
On-street activation was just one level of activity. The EEC Youth Enrolment campaign made full use of radio’s ability to integrate multiple layers of engagement across complementary platforms.
By combining emotive, instructional and branding activity within audio, visual and live platforms, this initiative cut through the chatter to motivate, engage and, most importantly of all, produce results.
Peeyoosh Chandra, digital planning director at Saatchi & Saatchi (which worked with TRB on the campaign as the EEC’s strategic agency partner) says the youth-targeted campaign engaged thousands, with the banner advertising achieving three times more click-throughs than other advertisements.
“The combination of adlibs and integrated landing pages contributed seven percent of total online enrolments, with more than 39 percent of enrolments coming from first time voters,” Chandra says.