Standing together to stop family violence

When Strategy Design & Advertising first met the people from Aviva, there was a fair amount of cautious circling. Now the company and the social service agency have a firmly cemented partnership.

Aviva is the new name for what was the Christchurch’s Women Refuge, and Strategy is the design and advertising agency that helped create their new identity.

It’s one of a suite of partnerships that have given the revamped organisation a lift as it spreads its expanded range of services into the Canterbury community. Aviva still runs a 24-hour phone line and safe house for women and children at risk from domestic violence, but now it also reaches out directly to men who are caught in the violence spiral.

Julie McCloy, Aviva’s marketing and fundraising manager, describes it as a “whole of family approach – we provide a wide range of services to support individuals and families at any point of their journey away from violence”.

The old name wasn’t going to cover that expanded vision, so Strategy was asked if it would help with rebranding. After some careful scoping, the answer was a resounding yes.

Geoff Cranko, Strategy’s Group Managing Partner, says the connection has truly paid dividends, most importantly out in society.

“We feel like we’ve added real value to the community. What Aviva offers is very real and pertinent in Canterbury right now – there are some pretty stressed individuals out there.”

The care at the outset was to make sure a partnership would really serve both sides, Geoff says. Strategy needed to be sure it could make a real difference – the agency won’t engage with a client otherwise. And it needed to be sure the brand it was sponsoring would speak to a wide spread of the market, because that’s where the firm’s own business comes from.

Aviva’s expanded service was a perfect fit, he says. “And the creative challenges were pretty interesting too – the Christchurch Womens Refuge brand has been in the market for 40 years.”

“Pro bono work is like our R&D process in a way. It provides a great opportunity for our creatives to experiment. With sponsored work they get a quite open brief, and can push the boundaries. That feeds back into our commercial work, keeps us at the cutting edge.”

It wasn’t all business-based thinking though, Geoff says.

“Sure, you have to have a profit focus. But we live in a community too. If we learned nothing else from the earthquakes, it’s that we need to support and nurture our community.

“The earthquake brought out the best and the worst in us. People like Aviva are doing really great work out there, and if we can help, we’re really keen to.”

Julie says the Strategy partnership has been brilliant for Aviva. Not only did the agency get a brand that works across old and new audiences, but Strategy also pulled out all the stops with their media contacts to promote the name launch – just one week before the annual street appeal, which was a great success. 

“That’s the real benefit of relationships like this, when a partner supports you in ways that you can’t achieve yourself, and helps spread your message further.”

Julie says ‘pushing the message further’ is something that happens in all Aviva’s partnerships.

“The companies supporting us do it for a reason – they want to back an organisation that’s out there advocating against family violence, because they care about the people in their community.”

That help comes in many forms, including a car provided by Donnithorne Simms Mitsubishi, a board game sold in Z petrol stations, and a home security scheme for at-risk families supported by Rotary clubs and Holcim New Zealand.

The car is used by the male family support worker who is providing the new ReachOut service in North Canterbury – an early intervention service for male perpetrators of family violence in New Zealand. After offering a free car for the service’s one-year pilot, the firm has now extended the offer permanently, says Sales Manager Duncan McMeeking.

“They do a helluva job,” he says. “We’re just happy putting something back into a great community organisation.”

Similary, Z station owner John Allen says his company’s relationship with Aviva is about backing their efforts. In 2012 the then Refuge was nominated by customers to receive funds through Z’s Good in the Hood programme. Some creative thinking led to John teaming up with other Z retailers in the city to sell the Quakes and Ladders game that creator Siobhan Grimshaw had offered to Aviva as a fundraiser.

Now he’s hatching a bigger plan to help bring Aviva money.

“I like what they’re trying to achieve, to reach entire families that need support. They’ve launched something much bigger, in a community that’s so in need of some more services.”

Julie says the support of companies like John Allen’s Sabema has reinforced that broadening Aviva’s services and client base has the wonderful side effect of broadening its support base.

“We’re more approachable now, not just for men and women who need support, but also for people who want to help.”