Wasp Wipeout: Engaging local and business communities to create sustainable change

The Nelson Mail created a fundraising campaign to help tackle Nelson's wasp problem. The multi-media campaign included a short documentary (watch below), a purpose built editorial content in the Nelson Mail and engagement with local businesses. 

The challenge 

Nelson Mail editor Victoria Guild and her team created editorial content to support the campaign. 

Nelson Mail editor Victoria Guild and her team created editorial content to support the campaign. 

Wasps have been the scourge of the Kiwi summer for decades, no more so than in Nelson; the home of a common and German wasp population whose biomass is greater per hectare than the rats, stoats and possums combined.  The Department of Conservation and local groups have been at war for years but in 2016, in time for the 2017 hatching season, the Nelson Mail and Fairfax Media stepped into the fray. 

The challenge: raise $50,000 through crowdfunding  to create a wasp free corridor in Nelson, freeing up the community from (potentially lethal but always painful) stings  and helping protect native bird and bat life - which often falls prey to wasps. 

Our idea 

Our idea was to create a community wide crowdfunding and education campaign utilising the Nelson Mail, in print and online, to show the community how wasps devastate native species and the environment what they could do about it.  

We would create a fundraising platform that made  donating accessible and show donors where their money was going. 

To ensure we had enough volunteer power involved in the campaign we’d encourage the community to get involved by registering with DOC to become an approved Vespex bait user,  allowing them to put bait their homes and neighbourhoods. 

The navigation pane featured across the Nelson Mail's coverage, allowing people to engage with each facet of the campaign. 

The navigation pane featured across the Nelson Mail's coverage, allowing people to engage with each facet of the campaign. 

What we did 

We created a cross platform campaign with three touch points: 

  • Nelson Mail in print
  • Nelson Mail online
  • eDMs targeted to Nelson Mail subscribers and local businesses
Biomass of wasps is greater than all other pests in South Island beech forest. 

Biomass of wasps is greater than all other pests in South Island beech forest. 

The campaign centered on a three-pronged approach that engaged and educated people across different topics affected by wasps looking at: the environment (how wasps consume food sources for native birds and  invertebrates as well as attacking the baby birds and invertebrates themselves), the economy (such as impacts on tourism and the honey industry), and human well being. 

Each of these points was covered through in-depth multimedia  journalism in the Nelson Mail, incorporating editorial, display advertising, community generated content, infographics and videos. 

Bait stations laid across the top of the South Island to create a wasp free corridor.

Bait stations laid across the top of the South Island to create a wasp free corridor.

Our fundraising platform closely mirrored the Kickstarter model. We offered different tiers of donations, allowing supporters to donate towards different equipment e.g. 

Regular SWAT Team - $25
10 bait stations 

Regular Stinger Pack - $100
600g of bait
1 applicator stick
24 bait wells 

This increased accessibility to the fundraising campaign - allowing business to support higher end tiers and offering access points to fit any budget (general donates accepted from $5). 

Community outreach has extended to two schools, and numerous service clubs like Lions and Rotary, where Nelson Mail editor Victoria Guild has given talks about wasp wipeout. 

The insight

The Nelson Mail has a rich history of engagement with its community. For 150 years it has been informing and entertaining the people of Nelson. This meant that we knew how much of an issue this was for the community and were able to meaningful connect with its members and the businesses that call Nelson home, creating a more liveable community. 

The results 

The crowdfunding campaign raised an astounding $55,600, recruited 285 volunteers to help place the bait and had dozens of residents who have placed bait around their own homes . 

Vespex has more than a 95% success right and, thank to the fundraising, we’re able to cover 390 km of Nelson’s Beech forest. 

The success of the campaign created a valuable blueprint for future Wasp Wipeout missions, opening the potential for the wipeout to be scaled to a nationwide campaign. 


What the client said 

“Working with Victoria and the team at the Nelson Mail and wider Fairfax operation has been fantastic. We’ve been able to achieve a whole lot more for conservation and our community than endeavouring to do it on our own. This campaign has meant that DOC has been able to deliver five times more wasp control across the region than last year.

"The partnership has been built on trust, a clear shared vision and each party has worked working to its strengths in leading its area of expertise.

 "The Tasman Environment Trust has supported through managing and distributing funds to the community as well as providing another online home for information.
We are just delighted with the results, and are looking forward to working together with Fairfax Media in the future.”

Christine Officer, Partnership Development Manager, Department of Conservation