The most amazing places live in our imagination.

Client: Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.

A key driver in the Recovery Plan for Christchurch - following the devastating earthquakes of September 2010 and February 2011 - was to get people back into the city again. In particular, the younger generation who could grow up without knowing their city centre.

The Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) asked us to help develop a competition to engage the children of Christchurch in the rebuild of the central city. We responded with an online/offline initiative which encouraged Christchurch’s 3-18 year olds to imagine their city as The Amazing Place.

The Brief

Attracting young people back into the central city is a key driver of the Christchurch City Recovery Plan following the devastating earthquakes of 2010/11. The Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) asked us to help them develop a competition to engage schools in the rebuild of the central city.  The competition asked the younger children to develop their vision for the world’s best inner city playground. The older children worked in groups to develop key recovery projects such as the stadium, the convention centre, the Avon River precinct or the library.

Our brief was to excite students, and their teachers, to participate while also ensuring all the logistical elements were clear and easy to follow.

The Solution

Our response was an integrated communications campaign that encouraged Christchurch’s 3-18 year olds to imagine their city as The Amazing Place.

We started by determining the name. The Amazing Place illuminates the aspirations for Christchurch and captures the competitive element through its subtle reference to The Amazing Race. The visual identity was designed to speak to students as young as three while still being cool and relevant to teens. The visual elements also spoke to teachers and school principals, as their engagement was critical for incorporating the competition into the school curriculum.

A series of communication pieces were developed and mailed to all schools in a yellow brick. The brick symbolises the building blocks for the city’s recovery while evoking the fun and adventure associated with the ‘yellow brick road’.

The dedicated website reinforced the design and messages of the print materials, generating further interest and excitement in the competition and the future vision for the city. It also served a practical function, providing detailed information for teachers, students and their parents and being a cost-effective portal for schools to register and order further materials.

Facebook and Twitter were used to generate discussion, encourage collaboration and to build a ‘buzz’ amongst the students.

The Results

The competition ran from late January and continued until term three of the school year 2013. CCDU was delighted with the feedback and support from the local community and the take up from schools and students. Research has shown a high level of awareness and likeability of the idea amongst the people of Christchurch and that it has been a catalyst for families to discuss the future of the city.  CCDU were so pleased with the outcome that they asked us to consider the potential to extend the idea to other messages and other audiences.

An amazing place – a rebuilt Christchurch – is starting to take shape and not just in the imagination of the city’s youth.

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