Water Safety NZ & Royal NZ Coastguard: Live Rescue

Brief: New Zealand’s coastline is almost as long as the USA’s. We have more recreational boaties in the water than anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, we also have more reckless, irresponsible, and intoxicated boaties than anywhere else. With little government funding, the New Zealand Coastguard is forced to patrol this vast area with just 75 boats. Their volunteers are often faced with the futile task of finding a needle in a haystack. We wanted to show the country how tough this can be for the Coastguard and why they need support.

Creative Execution: When you combine the New Zealand Coastguard’s lack of government funding with the enormity of their task and the inexplicably naïve attitude that the New Zealand public has towards ocean safety, we needed to give them a wake up call. The live rescue event was a very relevant way to do this as it gave the public first hand insight into what Coastguard volunteers are up against. It gave the country a reality check that put an end to their misguided complacency, and made them realise that the Coastguard need their help and support.

Creative Solution: So we let them experience it. We capsized a boat, stranded 4 people in the ocean, and challenged New Zealand to find and save them, in the world’s first live-rescue event. At 1810, real time POV TV and radio spots put viewers into the shoes of a Coastguard volunteer in a rescue operation to find the missing boaties. The direct response TV and radio drove people online where they found themselves in a search plane simulator racing against the clock in real time. A GPS locator fed the live position of the real capsized boat into the simulator.

Results: Thousands of virtual volunteers soon realised they were faced with a hopeless situation. 1.8% of those who took part in the mission were successful. 98.2% were not. The live event captured New Zealand’s imagination and was covered by the country’s leading news networks. It left people with the sobering reality check that if they had been one of the missing people they would have had less than a 2% chance of survival. It proved that the Coastguard need all the help and support they can get. A 20% increase in visitors to the Coastguard website led to a staggering 900% increase in online donations.

Advertising Agency: DDB, Auckland, New Zealand
Art Director: Matt Swinburne
Writer: Brett Colliver
Group Executive Creative Director: Toby Talbot
Deputy Creative Director: Regan Grafton
Account Executive: Sarah Burilin
Account Director: Libby Weston-Webb
Agency Producer: Tania Jeram
Creative Director: Daniel Wright (Tribal/DDB)
Interactive Designer: Steven Leong (Tribal/DDB)
Senior Developer: David Vaughan (Tribal/DDB)
Developer: Rowan Oulton (Tribal/DDB)
Senior Account Manager: Tim Cullinane (Tribal/DDB)
Editor: Steve Gulik