Ensuring everyone's in the know
Going Digital

Seymour (see more) the digital dog is now the face of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s Going Digital campaign. The communications program is designed to inform and help New Zealanders get ready for when the country’s analogue broadcast system is switched off – in geographically staggered stages – between September 2012 and November 2013.

"We worked to fulfil the Ministry’s wish for a consumer-friendly brand supported by a 21st century mascot", says, Paul Johnson who led the Designworks design team.

"Seymour is the result of a lot of careful thinking. We took very much a positive approach that focused on what people stood to gain, not what they were losing. We also looked at what the most successful campaigns – in terms of both likeability and uptake – overseas have been doing. A campaign name that felt positive and collective was a critical starting point. The name Going Digital is active and says we’re doing it together as a nation. It’s not an opt-in, but there is help and guidance available.æ

Paul says that when it came to choosing a character that people would have strong affinity for, the dog won out because it’s so familiar.

"They’re known as faithful helpers – Footrot Flats and Hairy Maclary – and they’re already part of the family. There’s also a quiet little nod to Nipper, the old HMV dog.

"We wanted the mascot to appeal to kids, the digital generation, who will inevitably play a part in encouraging and motivating older people to ‘get with the program’.

"The idea was to couch the switchover as an entertainment proposition – you can see more with digital television. From a practical point of view, an animated dog can do a lot of demonstrating and story-telling things for us, like run around with cables in his mouth or run off with the remote.  He can scratch, sit, wiggle his hips, raise an ear or an eyebrow and achieve a huge variety of facial expressions, just like a real pooch.

"It was the first time we’d created a fully animation-ready character as part of a brand. It felt like 50% creating a cartoon character and 50% product design. I’ll admit we had a few laughs along the way making sure he could perform a comprehensive range of dog movements."

So far, the branding has been well received, winning approval from everybody connected with the project and more importantly, researching extremely well.

"All the little subtleties we were picking up on were validated," Paul says. "In terms of a core asset to work with, Seymour is proving very useful, so that’s a great result. The brand we’ve created isn’t just a logo, it’s a character as well. Now it’s the task of the agency to give him a script. It’ll be interesting for us to see what he does as the campaign evolves and the switchover date gets closer."

You can view the Going Digital website here.