Behind the scenes of NZ Fire Service’s Escape My House campaign

Having seen the Escape My House adverts on TV and attended the AR/VR event at Social Media Club Auckland #SMCAKL I decided to delve a little bit deeper into the campaign by the NZ Fire Service which aims to motivate people into having an escape plan in the event of a house fire.

Social Media Examiner predicted the way that Augmented Reality (AR) could benefit businesses way back in 2011 and we are now seeing this technology along with its partner-in-brilliance VR (virtual reality) go beyond the gaming world and become more mainstream.

I decided to use a Q and A format which is just one of a few ways to present interview content on your blog. Here’s Social Media Examiner’s take on using interviews in your blog.

First up, as a writer, I have to give massive credit to the communications department at the NZ Fire Service. I was so impressed by the speed at which I was set up with someone to interview on this subject. That someone was Digital Manager at NZ Fire Service Craig Pearce. Drum roll for this guy… seriously!

You can learn more about the campaign which was developed by the NZ Fire Service’s advertising company FCB (huge credit to them!) by reading about the campaign brief and launch here.

But right here, right now, let’s get into this interview…


JS: Has something similar to the Escape My House been used in other countries or is this a New Zealand innovation?

CP: No, it’s a world first from right here in NZ!

JS: I just knew it would be! So proud of Aotearoa. So how did the campaign come about?

CP: It came about because of our need to make sure Kiwi’s understand the need for escape plans. It was a matter of right place and right time, with emerging technology at the time of needing a solution to low escape plan knowledge

JS: Is the technology AR and VR or just VR?

CP: It’s VR in its most basic form. We captured a real house fire and overlaid interactive elements. In order to break through the ‘this will never happen to me’ mentality, we wanted to put a real house fire in front of people. A real fire, destroying a real home (rather than computer generated) reduces the ability for excuses.

JS: As my readers can see from the above embedded video, it’s pretty confronting! So what are all the ways it’s being delivered?

CP: Website, Social media, TV ad placements, PR placements, On demand ad placements, Digital advertising.

  • The website – full interactive experience, or just 360 video (desktop & mobile)
  • Facebook & YouTube – 360 video (desktop and mobile)
  • Custom-built escape planner form/site
  • VR Kits by Firefighters – at community events (such as Waitangi Day)

JS: How important is social media within this campaign and for the fire service in general?

CP: It’s critical to the success of our fire-safety campaigns, especially with this one. Social media played a huge role in delivering unique content (360 video) to a mass audience.

As you can see NZ Fire Service is getting a lot of feedback on their 360 video and the call to action is working. From a Social Media Marketing perspective it’s important to note that nearly all the comments are promptly responded to. Nice work!

JS: Have you done any research into which age brackets are the most responsive on social media. Which platforms does the NZ Fire Service use and which are the most effective?

CP: Facebook is by far the most effective social media platform for New Zealanders. The responsiveness depends on the campaign, content and targeting. Typically, 30+ are the most engaged with us. We have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

JS: Have you been blown away by the response?

CP: As a campaign launch goes, it’s the biggest reaction we’ve ever received (30 million Facebook views and counting), but the true success of the campaign will be a long-term result, reflected in escape plan knowledge of New Zealanders.

Each time the 360 video is posted on the Fire Service’s Facebook page it gets a big response – 363,000 views and 2, 174 shares – no wonder they’ve reached 30 million views. This is resonating in an epic way!

JS: That is so cool. So how will you measure the results?

CP: We run a quarterly survey to capture the effectiveness of our advertising campaigns. Prior to running this campaign, only 61% of NZers say they have an escape plan, and only 29% have practised it. Hoping to see a shift in those stats following this campaign!

JS: What tools do you use to monitor uptake on social media?

CP: Facebook provides enough tools on the platform, but use Cyfe for long-term measurement and comparison. We also monitor Twitter (Tweetdeck) and Instagram (Union Metrics). Google Analytics on our sites also picks up social media referrals.

JS: Hey thanks so much for talking to me Craig. Thanks for being available short notice and I will defo encourage people to watch the video and like your page. Thanks for everything you do!

CP: No worries.

I really feel proud of the NZ Fire Service with this campaign and hope you’ll share this blog post far and wide. Of course the star in this campaign is not just virtual reality technology, it’s also 360 video. If you want to know more about using this (it’s definitely trending right now!) check out this podcast.

© Josie Stanford 2017


4 thoughts on “Behind the scenes of NZ Fire Service’s Escape My House campaign

Add yours

  1. PEER REVIEW for Josie Stanford 2017
    Very Interesting content. You gave a lot of information and links to give an all-round view of your subject. I found your expressive writing eg. “Drum roll for this guy… seriously!” showed your personality and gave it your personal touch.
    I found the structure of the blog was very balanced. Between visual and written content. You gave different ways of presenting you information eg video, written and clips of information which also made the blog balanced.
    Very scary youtube footage of how quick a fire can spread but also informative. I would never have realised this if I didn’t see the videos. Really fits the subject.
    Resources used
    You used a lot of resources which is great. What looks like an actual report of conversations recorded, Social Media, youtube etc. The Fire Service which not everyone has this sort of access to this information. All great resources.


    Your post has a journalistic approach. Well thought to conduct interview and keep the post content authentic. Your post showcased how a non profit organization can utilize social media to increase awareness and how social media can be integrated with traditional media to maximize the impact of a campaign. You also touched on the usage of new technologies AR & VR in media and marketing. The combination of text and video keeps readers hooked. It is a well planned and well written post, also has a good purpose. Well done!

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