Special Group
Meddle in the New Zealand Election

  • 2020

    Submission # 180

  • Output

    Campaign – Pānuitanga

  • Kaupapa

    Identity – Politics & Action

    Impact – Reach / Results / ROI

  • Location


Project Overview:
Overseas Kiwi were legally able to vote back home but weren’t.

The popular out for not voting was ‘not having enough info about how to.’ But when we dug deeper with overseas Kiwi, we found the real barrier was that they didn’t think their vote mattered or that they had permission to get involved.

So, our challenge became to wake them up to their collective influence as a voting bloc – letting them know their vote mattered – and to provocatively invite them to get amongst the NZ election. Breaking out of the wallpaper of childproof or very sincere voting campaigns.

Of the one million New Zealanders living overseas, the majority live in Australia, with the remainder primarily in the UK, US, Canada, Europe and Asia. With such a scattered target we needed great reach, that spoke to these overseas New Zealanders, along with their friends and family, as well as influencers. In a way that current and shareable.

That’s why we decided to create a social media led campaign. And to use short-videos, which Databox estimates boost ClickThroughRates by 2-3X greater than static posts.

Primarily the work ran on Facebook and Instagram. Like any good meddlers we infiltrated groups New Zealanders were a part of on social media platforms. We also ran a mobile OOH campaign overseas.

Only 1 in 10 voted in the 2017 New Zealand election. The inertia was great and had been that way for decades.

We were going to try and change that with a media budget of $12K. Where the Electoral Commission spends $6M to reach domestic kiwi (1.2M per 1M voters), we had the equivalent of 1% to reach our 1M overseas Kiwi.

And in a year of COVID-19, when even hitting current voting numbers was going to be tough with 100K kiwi coming home during the year and all of the short-term travelling kiwi (who usually make up 60% of overseas voters) grounded in New Zealand.

Besides the general election, there were also two very important referenda on the ballot, so the time was right to get as many Kiwi as possible to make sure their votes were counted.

So how could we mobilise all of the Kiwi who were still scattered around the world to vote this election? Where is the one place they all visit? And how could we create maximum impact, maximum cut-through and currency given our micro-budget?

In 2016, Russia successfully influenced the outcome of America’s presidential election by targeting every major social media platform in order to sway voters to vote.

So, when non-partisan initiative Every Kiwi Vote Counts set out with a microbudget to encourage one million Kiwi who live overseas - and dismally participate in their home elections - to vote in New Zealand’s 2020 Election, we turned to the experts in online election influencing. Yes, we turned to the Russians.

On 30 September 2020 (the day online voting opened), our spokesperson, Viktor, kicked off the social campaign calling for overseas Kiwis to “Meddle in the New Zealand election”, explaining that the process was easy to do online and there was, “No need for a sneaky VPN.” Viktor highlighted that - as 20% of the population - their votes could have “some serious sway.”

Then, every day for 18 days, until election day, Viktor posted videos talking about how he “planned to hack away to convince overseas Kiwis to vote” or “touch data base… I mean… touch base” in order to get everyone to vote. His posts talked about important statics and called on overseas Kiwi to get involved.

Launching in tandem was our PR campaign, to create a stir and take our message further. “Kiwi are being urged to Meddle in the New Zealand Election’ never failed to draw attention.

All social posts and press linked to our website,, designed to give additional information.

Using a utilitarian grid system, muted colour palette and Chenobyl typeface, we were able to merge Viktor’s edgy tone with punchy, fact based graphics and links to - the government voting site. The same punchy tiles were also utilised in our social posts.

By using platforms of both influence (where people connect with friends and family) and provocative context (spread of misinformation) we were able to mobilize more overseas Kiwi than ever before.

Maximum reach, cut-through and currency:
- In 18 days, reached 382K overseas Kiwi on social (with a micro-budget of $12K)
- 31,900 Facebook clicks, with a CostPerClick just 25% of average CPC.
- 80 million global impressions with earned media (including in Australia: The Sydney Morning Herald,
The Age, Western Australia Today, Brisbane Times, ABC radio, The Guardian UK,
and NZ: TV3 Breakfast, TVNZ 6pmNews, Spinoff, Newsroom, Newstalk ZB)
- $525K of earned media.

Maximum impact:
- Contributed to the highest turnout of overseas voters on record (despite Covid)
- 42% increase in overseas residents voting (+10,525)
- 7,096 visitors to directly from (74% from Australia)
- 49.5% increase in online voting, with Australia - the only market outside NZ with paid advertising - shifting from 35% to 53% of all overseas vote downloads, where all other countries remained at similar levels to 2017.

Every Kiwi Vote Counts Facebook comments:
‘This guy single-handedly made me vote for probably the first time in 10 years!’
‘I am inspired for the first time in 20 years.’
‘Better late than never hey?? Thank you Viktor! :-)’’
‘Haha! I’m proud to be a Kiwi. I’m in Aussie and I’ll be voting today!’

Archiver’s Response:

"A mastery of storytelling with significant influence on the political landscape of the nation."

"'A smart way to poke fun at what most would find a dry subject. I think the "sneaky Russian stereotype" character was a genius move as he was so likeable and convincing, he felt encouragingly up to no good which made you want to join his 'nefarious' efforts. The ROI is very impressive and nothing short successful."

"A very Kiwi way of spinning a negative into a (funny) positive."

Credits & Collaborators:
Design Strategist - Tracey Lee, Rory Gallery, Daisy Conroy-Botica
Design Director - Heath Lowe
Creative Director - Jonathan McMahon, Lisa Fedyszyn, Tony Bradbourne
Videographer - Sweetshop
Art Director - Jack Gravatt, Till Dittmers

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