Instagram case study: “Swim Reaper” encourages water safety on Instagram

Digital marketing industry case study library

Young men in New Zealand love doing dumb stuff in the water. But it’s killing them. Water Safety NZ aimed to encourage responsible swimming via social media messages from the Grim Reaper himself.

Case study summary

• Water Safety NZ wanted a fun way of preventing swimming deaths to cynical young male demographic

• Used dark humour on Instagram (channel popular with young males) to get message across

• “Swim Reaper” character actually encouraged swimmers to their watery deaths

• Campaign had a big impact, with a 20% decrease in drowning year-on-year

The Challenge

Positive safety messaging has been traditionally unsuccessful with this cynical demographic of young men, prompting FCB to adopt the darkly comedic standpoint and ‘swim dumb and you’re done’ tagline.

The solution

FCB New Zealand launched the campaign for Water Safety NZ in partnership with ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation NZ) aiming to encourage water safety via social media messages by the Grim Reaper.


The results

After five weeks the campaign achieved over one million views, over 30,000 followers and 13,000 likes on Instagram. The stats also showed that the country witnessed a 20% decrease in drowning year-on-year.

The campaign also helped towards drowning deaths go down to zero in its target demographic of young men, who until now have disproportionately made up one-third of all drowning deaths in New Zealand.

“The Swim Reaper campaign has been a great success,” said CEO Water Safety NZ.“It’s raised awareness among young males that there can be fatal consequences for unsafe behaviour in, or around the water without Water NZ being the ‘fun police.’

“The humour of the campaign has engaged our target audience while delivering an important safety message – normally a difficult task considering the tendency is for young men to under estimate risks and over-estimate their ability.”

Copyright ©2000-2023 Digital Strategy Consulting Limited | All rights reserved | This material is for your personal use only | Using this site constitutes acceptance of our user agreement and privacy policy