NZ’s lifejacket digital adverts – a world first!

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 50, June 2016

This year’s Safer Boating digital advertising campaign won the Communication Agencies’ Association of NZ Beacon awards for “Best in Show”, as well as “Best Use of Mobile”.

Maritime NZ was well aware that mobile devices are recreational boaties’ most commonly used communications tool, on and off the water. So this summer, it used a new method to get lifejacket messages into boaties’ heads while they were out boating – little did Maritime NZ know but what it was attempting was a world first.

“Using this new digital initiative has meant boaties around New Zealand’s coastline have received more than 21.9 million messages while they are on or near the water. This message reminds them to ‘wear your lifejacket’”, says education and communications manager Pania Shingleton.

The campaign was organised in two parts. The first was aimed at increasing general awareness amongst boaties of the need to wear lifejackets; and the second, innovative part, was creating a “virtual Coastguard” – so that boaties would receive a digital “wear your lifejacket” message as soon as they stepped off land onto their vessels.

Creating a “virtual Coastguard” meant mapping a series of points around the entire coast, each with a 15km radius, that have been geo-located.

“Virtual Coastguard” uses GPS to identify mobiles within the mapped area, automatically sending a lifejacket message via Facebook, Instagram, Google and 24 different advert networks received on mobile phones,” says Pania. Boaties only had to be using anyone of the networks to receive the message.

She says Maritime NZ and MetService had already joined forces two years ago to create the hugely popular “MetService Marine” weather forecasting app.

Every time the app is opened it builds on other Joe Bro lifejacket adverts being broadcast on TV, radio and print, by encouraging boaties to “Get it on – or it’s no good”, as well as providing crucial weather information. Awareness-building relies on a consistent message being repeated across different channels.

The MetService Marine app has been downloaded more than 120,000 times and is now used more than 236,000 times a month. Maritime NZ lifejacket and safety messages are delivered through the app 760,000 times a month.

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