Case Study: NAB’s Share House

Campaign: NAB’s Share House

Client: NAB

Agency: Aesthetic – An Experiential Creative Agency

Background

NAB is committed to developing an employee culture that fully accepts and embraces individuality. The financial institution has had a dedicated internal inclusivity program for a number of years and in 2012 Pride@NAB was launched. Developed to foster an internal network for all LGBTI employees and straight allies to connect, Pride@NAB has helped change the way NAB operates and supports its employees.

more out and proud 300Making positive strides internally, NAB identified a disconnect between its internal efforts and brand perception of the greater LGBTI community when it ranked third out of Australia’s top four banks for perceived LGBTI friendliness in the 2014 Pink Monitor survey. NAB needed to take action in order to get its message of ‘More Out & Proud’, well, out.

To address the survey results and expose NAB’s progress to both the LGBTI community and wider public, NAB commenced a three-year sponsorship deal with Midsumma Festival in 2014. As the exclusive partner for the financial services sector, this was the opportunity to show appreciation for and celebrate NAB’s LGBTI employees while demonstrating to Midsumma’s audience that NAB was an inclusive employer.

After testing the waters in 2014, NAB made the decision to dive deeper into what supporting inclusion means and what truly appeals to the hearts and minds of the Midsumma audience. The 2015 Midsumma Carnival activation made an immediate impact with the crowds, inviting them to participate in a giant game of Truth or Dare. The openness of the participants and willingness to share their intimate thoughts and truths was a breakthrough in consumer brand engagement at Carnival, not only for NAB but for all sponsors of the event.

With 2016 approaching, the expectation and anticipation to build upon the success of 2015 was rife.

Objectives

At this point, NAB had begun to build a reputation amongst the Midsumma community as a brand that deeply considered its responsibility to this market and would create a meaningful and authentic experience for Carnival-goers. The 2015 activation of Truth or Dare had also set the bar amongst other major sponsors to carefully plan and consider their offering at Carnival. The pressure for a next level idea was on.

From a business perspective NAB had very specific objectives in place for this sponsorship campaign:

  1. Positively predispose the LGBTI community to the NAB brand, creating brand engagement and advocacy,
  2. Further advance Pride@NAB’s objective of improving the engagement of their LGBTI employees and straight mates,
  3. Help increase % level of NAB employees who feel comfortable in identifying themselves as LGBTI, and
  4. Increase the number of Pride@NAB volunteers for Midsumma.

The activation came with its own set of objectives:

  1. Demonstrate that NAB is a progressive, inclusive employer,
  2. Demonstrate NAB’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, and to the LGBTI community and the Midsumma Festival,
  3. Humanise the NAB brand and NAB staff,
  4. Continue the journey and conversation that the 2015 activation began; demonstrate that NAB has listened and will continue to listen to the LGBTI community,
  5. Create opportunities for any one person to be whoever they want to be, engaging with the public’s personal / individual aspirations, and
  6. Demonstrate that NAB believe that people matter.

Strategy

The 2015 campaign uncovered some illuminating insights that guided the idea behind 2016: this unique and colourful audience was not only incredibly diverse in lifestyle and level of exposure to a festival such as this, but they were open to meaningful engagement with a brand, as long as the focus was on the activity, not the sale. They come to Midsumma Carnival to celebrate individuality while unifying as a community.

Knowing this about the audience, NAB was able to confidently build upon the values of bravery and acceptance that the 2015 activation successfully embodied; taking what had been learned and creating an inclusive space that would live and breathe the sentiment of individuality from 2015’s participants.

So how does a well known corporate brand encourage openness, demonstrate that they have listened and continue to listen to this community and strongly communicate its belief that people matter?

‘We believe that the most effective way of showing someone they matter, is to give them a moment of your time.’

The environment would need to embody safety, support, trust, bravery, acceptance, individuality and freedom of expression – the idea of creating a home environment began brewing.

‘Home is not a place, it’s a feeling’

‘Home is not where you live, but where they understand you’

With those statements as the guiding force, NAB’s Share House was born: a space for people to safely and comfortably interact with someone, to share a moment and create a memory.

share house 300The next consideration was how to facilitate semi-intimate person-to-person engagement. Who would participate? How would they be introduced to the concept? Would they be willing? How many people could we accommodate? How far apart should people sit? What could be utilised to make the environment comfortable enough to facilitate authentic interaction? How would participants move in and out of the house? And how could people be moved on when they got too comfortable? These questions were incredibly important in design considerations and the overall functionality of the experience. Creating a level of privacy with a community feel was challenging.

In addition to the live-site, a content strategy was developed to maximise the quality of exchanges within the house and to share the sentiment of the occasion with those unable to attend. Promotional tactics across digital channels before, during and after the carnival were marked to amplify NAB’s message of inclusivity both within NAB and to the public. Featured content would be captured on video, with supporting photography, specially developed graphics and branded messaging.

Execution

Sunday 17 January 2016 – NAB’s reliable red star made a bold statement across social media, turning rainbow in support of the event.

couple 300As the crowds began to appear at Midsumma Carvival, NAB’s Share House stood proudly and boldly amongst the throes of other sponsors. The big red doors opened wide at 11am to curious minds and open hearts. Upon approach to the activation, potential participants were engaged by Pride@NAB volunteers, who appealed to their adventurous nature and encouraged them to enter the Share House.

There were four categories in which people could participate: as friends, family members, partners or strangers. Each category had been carefully designed with questions sitting within an ‘intensity’ range, based on participants indicated level of ‘bravery’. For instance, strangers who weren’t feeling particularly brave would have considerably different questions from partners who were feeling very brave.

‘Who are you at Midsumma Carnival with? What do you admire about them?’ – Strangers, low intensity.

‘What do you think we need to work on the most in our relationship?’ – Partners, high intensity.

question 300Close enough to create a feeling of unity, intimacy and togetherness, but far enough apart to create comfort between strangers, NAB’s Share House featured nine separate areas for participants to get comfortable. Colourful, retro furniture shaped an inviting space with a casual atmosphere, while a letterbox, flowered planter-boxes and a backdrop of a friendly suburban backyard gave the homely touches required for the day.

Pride@NAB volunteers were on hand to monitor the categories and ensure questions would be appropriate yet profound for each participant. Each experience lasted for seven to 10 minutes, with some participants opting for several questions because, as it turns out, sharing can be addictive.

Results

NAB’s Share House was in operation for five fantastic hours. During that time over 500 people pulled up a seat within its doors. There was laughter, openness, acceptance, connection and genuine conversations that were inspired by the nature of an inclusive community.

share house kids 300Reactions from participants were overwhelmingly positive:

“[It was] a fantastic opportunity to share some stuff that we didn’t already know. Which is pretty scary”

“It was enough for me to say I would probably move my banking across based on the fact that nobody else is here doing this kind of thing.”

“This isn’t about coming on-board and opening accounts or getting a new loan. This is about getting closer to your friends and I thought that was pretty special.”

“It’s pretty epic.”

The positive sentiment carried over to social media with NAB picking up 540 new Facebook and Twitter followers over the Midsumma Festival period.

In conjunction with the community results, NAB reached new heights in its internal inclusion progress – employees openly identifying as LGBTI increased from 2.2% in 2012 to 7.4% in the lead up to Midsumma 2016. There’s also been a 150% increase in Pride@NAB volunteers since the programs inception, peaking at 100 staff members for Midsumma 2016.

NAB’s message is clear. They will continue to support and champion inclusivity both at NAB and in the greater community. Because people matter.