Coastguard NZ Live Rescue

The New Zealand Coastguard ran an integrated awareness raising campaign in January with “Live Rescue”, an award-winning project. On January 31, 2010, the Coastguard capsized a boat and stranded four people in Hauraki Gulf, challenging New Zealanders to find and save them online at At 1810, real time point-of-view TV and radio spots put viewers into the shoes of a Coastguard volunteer in a rescue operation to find the missing boaties. The direct response TV and radio drove people online where they found themselves in a search plane simulator racing against the clock in real time. A GPS locator fed the live position of the real capsized boat into the simulator.

Coastguard NZ Live Rescue Wing

Thousands of virtual volunteers soon realised they were faced with a hopeless situation. 1.8% of those who took part in the mission were successful. 98.2% were not. The live event captured New Zealand’s imagination and was covered by the country’s leading news networks. It left people with the sobering reality check that if they had been one of the missing people they would have had less than a 2% chance of survival. It proved that the Coastguard need all the help and support they can get. A 20% increase in visitors to the Coastguard website led to a staggering 900% increase in online donations.

Click on the image below to play the video.

New Zealand’s coastline is almost as long as the USA’s, with more recreational boaties in the water than anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately New Zealand has more reckless, irresponsible, and intoxicated boaties than anywhere else. With little government funding, the New Zealand Coastguard is forced to patrol this vast area with just 75 boats. Their volunteers are often faced with the futile task of finding a needle in a haystack. The Coastguard and DDB New Zealand wanted to show the country how tough this can be for the Coastguard and why they need support.

Coastguard NZ Live Rescue Hauraki Gulf Map

The campaign won a Gold Direct Lion at Cannes International Advertising Festival.


The Live Rescue campaign was developed at DDB, Auckland, by art director Matt Swinburne, copywriter Brett Colliver, group creative director Toby Talbot, deputy creative director Regan Grafton, account executive Sarah Burilin, account director Libby Weston-Webb, agency producer Tania Jeram.

The Tribal DDB team were creative director Daniel Wright, interactive designer Steven Leong, senior developer David Vaughan, developer Rowan Oulton and senior account manager Tim Cullinane. Editor was Steve Gulik.