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Kiwi Heroes

Client: Sound Vision Foundation

The challenge

When the tragic events of the Chirstchurch shooting unfolded on March 15, 2019, there was an immediate need to unite the community in love for the victims and in support of those that helped restore faith in humanity. I was given a very short time of two days to build a website and identity that would help unite the people, engage them and memorialize the victims. The deadline for this was extremely tight and the whole campaign had to be engineered for low-cost, high-engagement and mass appeal. While the campaign was done purely out of goodwill, we had hoped to get our email list to grow so we could reach out to more like-minded people for similar projects.

My approach

Creating an identity for the campaign

Based on my research on New Zealand’s culture, social media emotions and news coverage of this and similar events, I chose to combine three key concepts that would be integrated to form the logo:

  1. An open hand: to make the symbol human and show the indelible mark that the victims had left behind
  2. Maori symbolism: to show that they were one with the people of New Zealand. For this one I studied many different Maori dictionaries, cultural symbols and more, particularly focusing on symbols that communicated love, hope, light and life. In order to be respectful to Maori culture I ended up reading guidelines on how I could and could not use the symbols. Not wanting to just pick up a symbol and use it as is in the logo, I instead, studied some of the characteristics of the aforementioned symbols and decided to use the Maori ‘style’ for drawing the hand.
  3. Candles: While the logo could have been perfectly fine without this, I chose to add another dimension to it by adding subtle flames on top of the fingers, essentially turning them into candles. The rationale was to show that while the victims were gone, their lives would serve as a light of hope, guidance and a reminder for us that we need to do so much more to break down the walls of hate and illuminate the darkness with the light of love. It was a non-essential embellishment; if someone understood it, great. If not, they could always assume they were badly drawn fingernails!



Designing & developing the web experience

The website was designed to have the following key areas:

  1. Heroes
    A tribute section dedicated to gathering, organizing and telling the stories of those who became victims of the attack, those who laid down their lives or helped in other ways. Each individual’s page was made sharable so as to drive organic traffic to the website.
  2. Message to the Prime Minister
    The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, had gone to great lengths to express her grief over what had happened and brought together the community at a time when it was most vulnerable. She won over the hearts of Muslims from around the world and in order to give those Muslims a chance to express their love for her and encourage her, this section was built. It had a simple message of love for Jacinda Ardern and allowed anyone to enter their details and virtually sign the message with their mouse or finger on a touch-enabled device. I designed the experience to be engaging and personal. We could have used a plain old form, but the very act of signing a message was designed to make users feel like their hands had touched the message, thereby making them part of it.
  3. Leave your prayers
    Since a memorial site was the inspiration for the whole project, we wanted to have a place on the website where people could come and leave their thoughts, prayers and wishes for anyone to read. For this, we used a Facebook comment embed plugin so whenever someone posted something there it would be shared on their feed, thereby driving more traffic back to the site.
  4. Share a story
    Gathering stories of the heroes, victims and everyone else was a very challenging task so we had an open form on the website through which people would be able to submit any personal experiences that they had had with any of the victims, tip us off about a hero we may have missed etc.
  5. Islamophobia
    Since the whole incident had taken place due to ignorance, hatred and Islamophobia, we wanted to take the opportunity to inform others by having some basic information about this up on the website so anyone who wanted to learn more about Islamophobia could access credible resources about it.


The Impact

The campaign was applauded by the entire team and far exceeded our internal expectations. Here are some interesting facts and figures:

  • 21,627 people signed the message
  • The website was shared over 24,300 times
  • The New Zealand Herald press-room liked the idea and gave us access to their photo assets.
  • 252 people left their prayers on a Facebook comment embed on the website
  • The overall campaign spend is estimated to be less than $5000
  • Our email list saw 21,627 signups in less than 10 days
  • We established our digital footprint in a new region i.e. New Zealand
  • Social media saw mass engagement
  • Plans are underway to present a compilation of the signatures collected to Rt. Hon. Jacinda Ardern on behalf of all those that have signed the message of love

The website and identity were up within 2 days but it took another 2-3 days to bring in all the necessary content, coordinate with the rest of the team and fine-tune other aspects of the campaign. Overall, the campaign was quite interesting to work on and given more time, it could have definitely been made more engaging and sustainable.

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