Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association


Paula Hellyer


Katie Slaughter

Lead Designer:

Ben Auton


Phil McElligott

Photography & Video:

Alex Lovell-Smith, Iain Frengley

The NZRSA is one of New Zealand’s most respected organisations. They offer a range of support to veterans of all ages, including advice and guidance, advocacy services and financial support to improve accessibility in accommodation, enable access to mental health services, get medical conditions treated, and ensure that children and whānau of the fallen and injured are looked after.

The RSA 2023 Poppy Campaign is the beginning of a conversation about veteran support in 2023.

The objective of this campaign was to encourage donations, as well as educating and informing the public regarding the need for ongoing support for veterans, particularly younger veterans.

One of the key insights in the development of the campaign was the largely unknown fact that, “Since 1990 New Zealand has created over 60,000 ‘younger’ veterans, these people have served in places like Bosnia, East Timor and Afghanistan. Their service has been largely overlooked, as have their resulting health and wellbeing needs”. 

The creative concept for Poppy 2023leveraged the RSA’s strong brand recognition and the depth of feeling New Zealanders have regarding remembrance to raise funds for veteran support. The campaign was designed to start a conversation about our younger veterans’ experiences, and to engage with veterans who require support.

Collaborating with Sir Richard Taylor and Rik Athorne from Wētā Workshop, the creative team developed a campaign focused on a real-life veteran, reiterating the ongoing support required for those who have served.. 

In addition to the narrative developed for the TVC, the iconic poppy graphic was used as a ‘beacon’ of remembrance. This iconic symbol has a direct connection to the RSA’s core purpose. Its bright red colour is seen as a symbol of the blood shed by those who have fought for their country over the years, and a reminder of the resilience of the human spirit in the face of war's destruction. This simple creative was replicated to effect across all media channels.

The development of the campaign came with several sensitivities. The veteran community is a unique group of around140,000 New Zealanders. Those that have not served can find it difficult to understand the veteran perspective. Developing creative that was focused on younger veterans had to be undertaken sensitively and with consultation. The creative team are not veterans, so chose to interview younger veterans about their experiences to ensure that the representation of veterans portrayed in this campaign was as accurate as possible, and this also included support from the RSA and NZDF to ensure accuracy.

Key success measures 

- 58% increase from 2022 in visits to the RSA donate page

- 4.2 Million ad impressions 

- 88% increase in overall website traffic from2022 (24,571) to 2023 (47,202)

- 7,700,000 million ads served during the campaign

- $949,301 in donated services and time

This campaign was only possible due to the donation of expertise provided by the production team and agency. Many of the resources required to deliver the project were donated including the time of the lead actor, retired Corporal Ryan Gilbert and the creative input from Wētā Workshop and Director Ben Milsom.

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