Safer Gambling Aotearoa

Nan's song

Watch out for the warning signs

Client Safer Gambling Aotearoa
Date Aug 2022


This Safer Gambling Aotearoa campaign targets recreational gamblers, aged 18 to 44 years. The focus was on Māori and Pasifika. Who are disproportionately represented in terms of gambling harm, being 3.1 and 2.6 (respectively) times more likely to face problems than other audiences.

The challenge was highlighting the risks of “Pokies” to this recreational audience who likely won’t yet feel they have any gambling problems.

Nans song example
Nans song photo v2
Nans song v4


Gamblers know that 'the house always wins', so telling them this fact won't change behaviour. Most believe they have a system, or luck, that will help them beat these odds. In particular many see "signs" that they are going to be lucky and use these to justify spending more. 


We decided to utilise our gamblers own belief in "signs" to help them identify when their gambling is moving from fun, to becoming a problem. We introduced the idea that there were signs. we then helped them identify what their own signs were before meeting them at key "moments of truth" to remind them to be mindful.

The Idea 

The strategy came to life in the campaign strapline, ‘watch out for the warning signs’. What made it special is how the warning signs were delivered.

We’re conscious that talking down to people to drive behaviour change doesn’t work. We need narratives that invite people in, not push them away. We also need to strike a balance with being direct and highlighting the problem.

That’s how Nan arrived. She’s a universal truth. A figure that many of us will recognise, whatever our background. A figure that has a particular resonance in Māori and Pacific communities. 

Nan represents a connection to our tūpuna, and mana tuku iho, the mana we inherit from our ancestors. Together with her song (Hearea Mai - Everything is Ka Pai) they created a vehicle to deliver a direct message in a positive way. This encapsulates the following values:

  • Empathy and manaakitanga 
  • Respect and mana
  • Guardianship and kaitiakitanga of one another both physically and spiritually


There were multiple stages of research conducted. Māori and Pacific audiences were engaged during the process. Along with Māori and Pacific cultural advisory on both agency and client side, in combination with clinical experts.

The project was a hugely collaborative process that required careful navigation and balancing. Delivering an authentic cultural narrative whilst ensuring the ads created were effective. In addition, this campaign incorporated multiple instances of stakeholder engagement. Involving stakeholders from across the health sector, gambling industry and a range of government entities.

Production process

The production process was a real team effort involving our awesome clients at Te Hiringa Hauora and many different teams within Stanley St. We were honored to also get cultural input and guidance from Alex Hirini, our Kaiārahi, Darryl Roycroft, our Kaiwahaktere, and our cultural consultancy unit Tātou.

Embarking on pre-production, it was critical that we engaged a Māori film director who would understand the kaupapa. And also have an emotional connection to the narrative. In order to bring it to life with authenticity in a way the target audience would connect with. For the same purpose, Māori filled key roles including art department, producing, styling, location scout and hero talent. 

The final creative included a Reflect (or “Awareness”) layer, with a hero 90 second film. 60 second films and an Identify (or “Consideration”) layer, with a series of 15 second videos with a slightly more direct message from Nan. It was supported with an Act (“Conversion”) layer. Prompting gamblers that were “between gambling moments or post gambling sessions”, who have seen a personal sign that their gambling is getting out of control, to act by reaching out for help.

Our thinking throughout the entire process followed our behaviour change model from top to bottom, and relevant metrics were allocated to each layer.

In terms of implementation we were conscious that Awareness does not instantly drive to the next step, Consideration. To ensure that in this case it did, we placed our 15” Consideration creative directly after our 60” Hero piece. This way we capitalised on an ‘open to suggestion’ audience. 

We also did this in digital video layers.

Finally - at the Conversion layer we honed our targeting right in on people in need of what THH referred to as ‘Help Seeking’ behaviour.

This included OOH prompts at point of gambling, but extending on this, digital messaging that targeted people who spent multiple hours in known pokie venues. Utilizing this data ensured we knew they were most likely active gamblers. We then replayed our messaging to them after they’d left the venue. Research showed that gamblers are often ‘in the zone’ in the venue and less open to messaging. But after gambling sessions are much more open to messaging.


89.8% understood it
88.9% said its important
75.9% said it's different
84.4% when prompted said there are signs to watch out for.