At DIA, we have a role in helping keep people, especially children and young people, safe online. Research tells us that:

  • 40% of young Kiwis have online interactions with people they’ve never met in real life
  • One in 5 Kiwis are bullied online every year
  • Many young people are learning about sex from pornography
  • Kids can go from watching appropriate online content to inappropriate content at the click of a button

This can lead to feelings of vulnerability, isolation, depression and anxiety and, in some cases, can lead to physical harm offline.  

What is Keep It Real Online?

Keep It Real Online is a New Zealand Government public awareness campaign to support our tamariki and rangatahi to be safe online.

A public awareness campaign like this is needed as the nature and type of online harms are dynamic and evolving quickly. 

It’s also needed because the internet is out of our jurisdiction, so we can’t rely on our legal frameworks to stop online harm. Instead we need to inform New Zealanders of the harms and provide them with support to be safe. That sounds easy, but it is not. We needed to be a little creative and out of the box to get everyone’s attention.

We are working with Auckland-based creative agency Motion Sickness on the campaign.

There are currently two parts to it: one aimed at parents and caregivers and the other at young people.

Keep It Real Online for parents and caregivers

In July 2020, we launched a series of ads showing parents and caregivers how to help their children and young people manage online bullying, inappropriate content, pornography and grooming.

Where you may have seen the campaign

  • TV, radio, newspapers, on social media and on billboards and posters.

Here’s what we achieved

What we wanted to achieve
(success measures)
What we achieved
  • Raise awareness of online harms with parents and caregivers
  • Reached 870,000 parents and caregivers through social media
  • Reached 68% of parents and caregivers through advertising
  • Increase the number of people seeking and receiving tips and advice
  • Website visits by New Zealanders: 115,620 unique visitors
  • Organisations who deal with online harm reported an increase in requests for information and support
  • Reduce the amount of inappropriate content and pornography accessed by young people
  • Data shows that the safety and security filters used by schools blocked a steadily declining number of attempts to access pornography while the campaign was running
  • Increase conversations between parents/caregivers and their young people about their online interactions
  • We’re unable to measure this officially, but believe we have been successful based on all the other success measures as well as the messages we have received from parents and caregivers through the campaign’s online channels and in discussions

We also reached people overseas: there have been 32 million views of the videos on social media and it’s been profiled by news media all over the world.

Here’s what it cost (excluding GST)

  • Budget: $1.5 million.
  • Production costs: $550,000
  • Advertising: $890,336
  • Website development and hosting: $55,000
  • Total cost: $1,495,336

The Eggplant

The Eggplant is a drama-crime-comedy-online-web-series to help young Kiwis safely navigate the internet. It launched in December 2020. The humour and issues are aimed squarely at people aged 12-18 years – if you don’t know the double meaning of an eggplant emoji, then this probably isn’t aimed at you.

Online harms addressed in The Eggplant include bullying, using pornography to learn about sex, grooming by people young people don’t know and sending and receiving nudes.

It stars some very talented young people, Kiwi icons Karen O'Leary (Wellington Paranormal) and Tammy Davis (Outrageous Fortune) and a few other familiar faces.

The Eggplant was made for young people with young people. We’d like to thank all the young people and youth advisory group reps who provided advice on The Eggplant.

Where you may have seen the campaign

  • TVNZ OnDemand, YouTube, social media and on billboards and posters.

Here’s what we achieved

What we wanted to achieve
(success measures)
What we have achieved so far
Raise awareness of online harms with young people

This campaign is still running so it’s too early to measure success. However, as of 10 February 2021, we know there were:

  • Over 300,000 streams across TVNZ OnDemand and YouTube
    Episode 1: 132,705 views Episode 4: 34,339 views
    Episode 2: 49,784 views Episode 5: 25,213 views
    Episode 3: 38,331 views Episode 6: 24,373 views
  • Over 4 million views of scenes and trailers across TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

The campaign has also employed over 200 people and 60 local businesses so far.

Increase the number of young people seeking and receiving tips and advice
Reduce the amount of inappropriate content and pornography accessed by young people
Increase conversations between parents/caregivers and their young people about their online interactions

Here’s what the campaign is expected to cost (excluding GST)

  • Budget: $2.1 million (including the next part, aimed at children – see below). The budget will be spent by 30 June 2021. 
  • Production costs: $914,100 (this includes the combined cost of both eggplant props, which was $11,600)
  • Advertising: $225,000
  • Initial promotion of The Eggplant (launch): $7,968
  • Total as of December 2020: $1,147,068
  • The balance is being used for the final part of the campaign, aimed at children – see below.

To put this in context, commercial campaigns like beer ads can cost between $400,000 and $900,000 to produce a 60 or 90 second ad. For the same money, we made 77 minutes of TV. 

Fun facts about the Eggplant

Did you know… two eggplants were made for the mini-series, one for filming and the other to be smashed by Principal Morris in episode 5. No environment was harmed in the destruction of the eggplant. Its parts were responsibly recycled.

And sorry, the remaining eggplant prop can’t be hired! It’s kept at a secure location in Auckland and we will continue to use it to promote the series until it either reaches end of life, or the campaign comes to an end. At which point it will also be responsibly recycled. 

While we were developing The Eggplant we ran a series of short ads on social media that illustrate some of the harmful behaviour young people are experiencing or performing.

What’s next?

In 2021, we will continue promoting The Eggplant and we will be launching the final part of the campaign, which is aimed at keeping children (5-10) safe online.

Who else is involved in the campaign?

The campaign is led by the Department of Internal Affairs and was developed in consultation with our partner agencies.

Our partner agencies

DIA logo(external link)Classification Office logo(external link)Netsafe logo(external link)Ministry of Education logo(external link)

Supporting agencies

   N4L logo(external link)     (external link)     NZ Police logo(external link)     (external link)     (external link)