Knowledge is power: how Kiwibank is turning to primetime to improve New Zealanders’ relationship with money

Knowledge is power: how Kiwibank is turning to primetime to improve New Zealanders’ relationship with money

Typically, banks put their ads between the TV shows you love. But Kiwibank decided the best approach was to take to primetime and fund a TV show of its own in an effort to educate New Zealanders on how they can improve their money management. We speak to general manager of marketing communications Regan Savage about the thinking behind one of the bank’s biggest, boldest and most innovative marketing initiatives to date. 

In today’s fragmented media environment, where entertainment choices are plentiful, audiences are accustomed to skipping ads, turning down the volume and switching off all together when branding gets in the way of their content. And, in most cases, they’ll probably also switch off when the content is based around financial literacy. But Kiwibank reckons it has found a solution to both problems by partnering with TVNZ and Ruckus to create a six-part series called Mind Over Money with Nigel Latta.

Instead of taking its marketing budget to an agency and sandwiching its ads between the content, Kiwibank approached TVNZ with the idea of funding an entire TV series about the psychology of money. But it wouldn’t be solely Kiwibank’s baby. It handed over the reins to local production company Ruckus to make a series that would deliver as a primetime TV show, with Kiwibank positioned as a ‘proud partner’.

Mind Over Money will hit TVNZ 1 and TVNZ OnDemand 13 February, and it’s designed to make New Zealanders’ relationship with money the subject of a mainstream, nationwide conversation.

“We are very interested in New Zealanders having the best possible relationship they can with their money, understanding how to be in control of their finances, having a plan and being confident with their money,” says general manager of marketing communications Regan Savage.

He describes the final product as a combination of Latta’s serious content, such as The Hard Stuff, and the more entertaining Nigel Latta Blows Stuff Up. It tackles our behaviour with money through social experiments that bring it to life in a fun way and conversations with people about how their relationship with money has impacted their lives.

Making the content as relevant and relatable as possible is more necessary than ever now that audiences have such a smorgasbord of content available to them. However, Savage says the audience is still there and he remains confident in the fact people want to tune in and watch linear TV.

“In order to get that ‘water cooler’ effect conversation happening in New Zealand, linear TV in primetime is still most effective way of connecting with people,” he says, adding the audience loves to watch Latta.

Because of that, Latta and the team at Ruckus were tasked with creating the tone of the programme and delving into the psychology of money and why we do the often irrational things we do, to deliver a plan for a series the bank could get on board with and fund.

“For me, one of the most compelling things about this is the partnership was finding people that you trust to tell the story in a great way that you couldn’t dream up on your own,” Savage says. “We might have come up with the first idea, but the execution of that has been largely in the hands of people who are experts at creating compelling TV, and it’s exciting to see how the idea comes to life in a way you could never have imagined yourself.”

Nigel Latta.

And just because Kiwibank has provided the financial means to produce the series doesn’t mean its branding will be flaunted throughout it. Instead it’s opted to avoid advertorial style and has a very subtle inclusion.

It understands the audience will tune out of overtly branded programming the same way they skip a YouTube ad, so Savage says it was important for Mind Over Money to stand up and have the same amount of integrity and entertainment value as any other TV show that was fronted by Latta.

One of the most obvious Kiwibank appearances in the series comes in the form of its chief economist, Zoe Wallis, who appears to talk about a broad macro-economic view of the topic that’s being discussed in the show. But it wasn’t the bank’s idea to include her —it was Ruckus’.

Savage says the main link between Kiwibank and Mind Over Money will be in the campaign surrounding the programme by Ruckus, OMD and Assignment Group that draws attention to the bank.

There’s also a website www.mindovermoney.kiwi that will go live with the series’ launch to continue the conversation with the bank’s customers and potential customers, through additional content and quizzes. It’s here the bank hopes to acquire more customers.

While this is the first time the bank has fully funded a TV series, it’s been involved in other popular shows and leads the way among the local banks when it comes to content marketing. Back in 2015, it ran a campaign called the KB Series, which followed social media starlet Jamie Curry on her journey towards independence and it became one of the most successful mid-year tertiary campaigns in the bank’s history.

It has also sponsored a few seasons of The Block NZ, which Savage calls a substantial foray into the world of advertiser-funded television, but this time it wanted to create something that was closer to its own purpose.

“Call it content marketing, whatever really, what really matters is that it’s making the best use of the media and our marketing investment to communicate what Kiwibank stands for,” – which is Kiwis making Kiwis better off.

To the cynics, it might seem strange that a bank is trying to make New Zealanders aware of their spending habits in order to stop them from going into debt, because that’s a huge part of a bank’s revenue stream. But Savage says Kiwibank is taking the long view. With knowledge comes power, and providing education and helping to improve financial literacy “might enable them to upsize their house, or it might encourage them to consider us for other products and services” in the future.

As well as attempting to educate New Zealanders about money through entertainment, it’s also trying to educate locals about the benefits of banking with a New Zealand-owned company. The ‘It’s ours, it is yours?’ campaign via Assignment Group demonstrated that clearly last year through more traditional advertising methods and late last year, in keeping with its desire to help fund the creation of engaging content, it backed a sponsored section on The Spinoff, called ‘The New Economy’, which included a series of editorial pieces and entertaining videos fronted by economist Shamubeel Eaqub and directed by The Spinoff’s José Barbosa. There’s also a captivating ‘ticker’ on the side of the pages to show the outflow of profit through the big four banks compared to the profit remaining in New Zealand through the locally-owned sector. Both numbers are based on Reserve Bank statistics.

Kiwibank also sponsored the use of financial literacy tool Banqer in 1,000 classrooms across the country, as well as supporting the development of four new financial capability modules for the programme. Savage says this is another tangible example of its focus on making New Zealanders better off. And it’s hoping it can continue to do that through Mind Over Money.

“It’s a reflection of our purpose as an organisation and by thinking differently about how we approach it, and partnering with people who are amazing at what they do and are great at connecting with mainstream New Zealand, we have a fantastic opportunity to get New Zealand thinking properly about money and their future.”

This story is part of a content partnership with Kiwibank.  www.kiwibank.co.nz.
Mind Over Money starts screening on TVNZ1 on February 13 at 8pm.