Showcase #4: change the only constant

For Q, every creative strategy is driven by the concept of change.
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For Q, every creative strategy is driven by the concept of change

See also: Creative Showcase is an advertising supplement created by Idealog. For information on upcoming Creative Showcases, call Ben Gibb on 09 966–0997 or email

Our world is constantly changing and with each new technological leap or communication innovation, the ways in which we market our products and services change too.

The drastic upheaval brought about by the global financial crisis has given many companies no choice but to change in order to survive, says Phillip Sunderland, founder of Q—and he’s no stranger to the concept of adaptation.

Over the last 15 years the Q agency has done many things—from owning film and TV companies to developing bespoke software—and has grown from its initial two creatives to a full-service agency of 22, and then recently moved back to a more simple structure. Three companies currently come under the Q umbrella: the branding agency, the software specialist and the event management company.

“For us, advertising has always been partly about solving problems—wrong perceptions, falling numbers, misinformation, not being heard, to name a few,” says Sunderland. “A client’s ability to accept change, linking with the agency’s ideas on how to change the current communication can result in dramatic shifts of market awareness and consumer uptake. We love the simplicity of well-crafted design and insightful targeted creative. Clients come to Q to cut to the chase.”

Two recent projects carried out by Q illustrate the ways in which change was central to the campaigns’ success.

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Changing for good

Christchurch City Council had the mammoth task of communicating the need to change people’s handling of their domestic rubbish. As with all habits, when you’ve been doing something a certain way for so long, you need guidance and encouragement to change those habits. The volume of unnecessary rubbish ending up in Canterbury landfills was a blight on our 100% pure New Zealand image. But one of the main issues was our lack of understanding. We leave our rubbish at the end of the drive and have no idea what happens to it after that—many of us wouldn’t care even if we knew.

“We decided our role was not to manipulate people into recycling through scare tactics or guilt, but instead to make them feel an emotion towards their weekly ritual of putting out the rubbish,” says Sunderland.

Not a load of rubbish

The council needed a campaign that wouldn’t alienate people, and one that would embrace every demographic, rather than targeting isolated age or gender groups. With every dollar coming from ratepayers, it couldn’t be seen to be extravagant, either.

“The Christchurch City Council was investing heavily on building new processing plants, new vehicles and new wheelie bins. It needed a campaign that would educate, encourage and embrace change.

“Q competed against several agencies for the opportunity to communicate this dramatic change in our local rubbish management. Our idea in the end was simple—we needed to make people care about what they did with their rubbish—we had to get them to ‘love their rubbish’.”

Expressing the values

The solution was simple: concept of love crosses all age, social, gender and ethnicity barriers. It’s inclusive, friendly and embracing. Rather than commanding people to act a certain way, the campaign Q devised asks them to think differently about their rubbish—to love it enough to separate it into each of the three new colour-coded bins.

The love-heart shape shows residents what to place in each bin, giving the design a clean, crisp and easy-to-understand layout that helped educate them about recycling.

“The campaign’s been a great success with the creative helping to eliminate much of the backlash and helping CCC get their new direction off to a great first year of change in new recycling habits for all Cantabrians,” says Sunderland. “Other local councils are now duplicating this formula.”

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The changing face of dance & physical theatre

The Body Festival is Christchurch’s annual dance festival that features a selection of dance offerings from professional shows to amateur productions. Focusing on the community aspect of dance, the festival also incorporates a number of workshops and participation events.

However, in the past, the Body Festival had attracted a narrow demographic of potential audience participants. It needed to introduce a whole new audience to the quality and diversity of entertainment on offer, enticing them away from the mainstream shows and heavily funded festivals and opening them up to a new experience.

The solution

Q understood that the identity for the festival had to change to show a quality and credibility that would reflect the numerous shows and performances on offer. In the year shown above, Q designed a spirograph motif that echoed the dancers and their individual movements, using this visual on street posters, newspaper advertising and a 36-page festival programme.

“Thanks to the Dance & Physical Theatre Trust’s vision and its openness to Q and our concepts, we ventured into creating crafted communication that would raise awareness among locals and visitors alike,” Sunderland says.

The festival has continued to grow year on year, with a substantial increase in support and participation, a result that Q sees as testament to the success of a design approach to dance and physical theatre.

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