Sum of the parts

New Zealand Marketing - - TVNZ NZ Marketing Awards -

Z En­ergy’s ‘Good in the Hood’, which let its work­ers and cus­tomers help choose the char­i­ties the busi­ness sup­ports, made its brand prom­ise a re­al­ity.

The chal­lenge

When Z was launched in 2011 fol­low­ing the big­gest piece of in­dus­try spe­cific re­search done in a decade, the key in­sight was that “New Zealand com­pa­nies should sup­port lo­cal”.

The prob­lem is that fuel is a grudge pur­chase in a com­modi­tised mar­ket and, on the whole, con­sumers are un­en­gaged with ser­vice sta­tion brands. In fact, there is a high level of distrust of fuel com­pa­nies and a lot of skep­ti­cism around their ac­tions. Add in some in­tense price fight­ing, the pop­u­lar­ity of dis­counts on coupons and fuel dock­ets, loy­alty schemes like Fly Buys and AA Smart­fuel and the in­flu­ence of con­ve­nience in petrol- buy­ing be­hav­iour, and find­ing a way to bring its brand prom­ise of ‘Z is for New Zealand’ to life and dif­fer­en­ti­ate it­self from its price­fo­cused com­pe­ti­tion was go­ing to be dif­fi­cult.

In the quest for ef­fi­ciency and con­trol, most cor­po­rates cen­tralise their spon­sor­ship ac­tiv­i­ties. They might put their name on a sta­dium, or get be­hind a big project. But one of Z’s five brand pil­lars is ‘Live Neigh­bour­hood’ and ad­her­ing to this meant de­cen­tral­is­ing con­trol, which takes a huge amount of trust and is more com­pli­cated to im­ple­ment. This lo­cal fo­cus is one of its ma­jor points of dif­fer­ence and the com­pany has a strong be­lief that a strong brand will ul­ti­mately lead to greater loy­alty and big­ger mar­ket share. So Z needed to find a way to con­trib­ute to things that mat­tered to lo­cal peo­ple.

The re­sponse

The con­cept of ‘Good in the Hood’ was born out of a much smaller project where Z cel­e­brated its ar­rival in a neigh­bour­hood by do­nat­ing $5,000 to lo­cal com­mu­nity projects. This scheme showed that hav­ing a lo­cal fo­cus but am­pli­fy­ing it na­tion­ally was hugely suc­cess­ful, so it ba­si­cally made it big­ger and bet­ter. Af­ter all, good neigh­bours are good neigh­bours ev­ery day of the year, not just for a few months of the year.

To be truly rel­e­vant, how­ever, it left the de­ci­sions on who or what to sup­port in the hands of the re­tail­ers, staff and cus­tomers in that neigh­bour­hood. The scheme wasn’t about beat­ing its own chest. It was sim­ply about al­low­ing it to hap­pen and then bask­ing in the re­flected glow.

Each site had $ 5,000 to give to neigh­bour­hood groups. And to put the call out for ap­pli­ca­tions, Z used Fly Buys eDMs, so­cial, on­line, on­site and lo­cal me­dia. It also sent emails to char­i­ties invit­ing them to par­tic­i­pate.

Af­ter se­lect­ing four groups to sup­port, re­tail­ers and staff formed re­la­tion­ships with the groups and other of­fers of sup­port were made. Z knew that it had to be about more than just do­nat­ing money. While the ini­tial cam­paign was just that, it also pro­vided re­tail­ers with a plat­form to ex­tend this fur­ther. This meant they were free to choose how they ‘Live Neigh­bour­hood’ un­der the ‘Good in the Hood’ ban­ner, in­clud­ing the do­na­tion of staff time, giv­ing space at ser­vice sta­tions for fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, free prod­uct or any­thing else they could think of.

Each pur­chase earned cus­tomers an or­ange to­ken and they voted for their favoured group by drop­ping it into a clear per­spex vot­ing box in­store. The greater the share of to­kens, the greater the share of money the group re­ceived.

The call for vot­ing was an in­vi­ta­tion to do ‘Good in your Hood’ us­ing TV, dig­i­tal and so­cial. Thou­sands of peo­ple also hunted for to­kens in the on­line To­ken Hunt. Game play drove par­tic­i­pa­tion and a deeper un­der­stand­ing of the story us­ing hid­den con­tent, un­lock­able to­kens and prizes. It helped ce­ment the nar­ra­tive ‘one good turn de­serves an­other’, and the top ten groups on­line re­ceived an ex­tra $500 each.

Tool­boxes were cre­ated for re­tail­ers to help com­mu­nity groups en­gage with their own au­di­ences, propos­ing ideas like com­mu­nity car washes, morn­ing

tea shouts or us­ing sites as col­lec­tions points. It also pro­vided posters, so­cial me­dia tips, ex­am­ple tweets and Face­book posts to help groups spread the word to sup­port­ers.

The next phase com­mu­ni­cated the re­sults and com­pleted the story. Che­ques were pre­sented to neigh­bour­hood groups at lo­cal events held by each sta­tion. Some even chose to top up the dona­tions them­selves so no group re­ceived less than $1,000. And the nar­ra­tive was con­tin­ued via TVC and on­line, fo­cus­ing on how the funds had ben­e­fit­ted some of the groups.

Through­out the process, the comms strat­egy was based around com­bin­ing hi-fi me­dia (such as dig­i­tal, gam­i­fi­ca­tion, TV and ra­dio) with lo-fi me­dia (such as vot­ing boxes, com­mu­nity no­tice boards, lo­cal press) to de­liver a sense of au­then­tic­ity and scale.

The re­sults

By be­ing true to Z’s orig­i­nal con­sumer in­sight around be­ing lo­cal, the pro­gramme in­creased aware­ness, pref­er­ence and us­age for Z and raised the pro­file of its com­mit­ment to neigh­bour­hoods. It also helped it main­tain its po­si­tion as mar­ket share leader, de­spite in­tense price com­pe­ti­tion. The num­ber of what it calls Rav­ing Fans—peo­ple who love Z and in turn be­come Z ad­vo­cates—hit its peak dur­ing the pro­gramme, which gave the mem­bers and sup­port­ers of 600 neigh­bour­hood groups an op­por­tu­nity to ap­pre­ci­ate Z’s sup­port by ac­tively pro­mot­ing the brand via word of mouth and us­ing Z sta­tions over and above com­peti­tors.

Z re­ceived its best-ever so­cial me­dia re­sults, with 31,000 so­cial shares and 10,000 so­cial re­fer­rals on Face­book, YouTube and Twit­ter. In ad­di­tion, over 500,000 peo­ple saw un­paid me­dia cov­er­age for Good in the Hood and over 23 lo­cal papers car­ried cov­er­age, which is tes­ta­ment to the re­la­tion­ships re­tail­ers de­vel­oped with lo­cal me­dia in their neigh­bour­hoods.

The pro­gramme pro­vided value to New Zealan­ders over and above a pricing war at the pump. It el­e­vated con­ver­sa­tions with cus­tomers from a trans­ac­tional fo­cus, it af­firmed Z’s New Zealand-owned cre­den­tials and it cre­ated a big busi­ness dif­fer­ence.

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