How a New Zealand bank crowdsourced apps for PR gain

Westpac called on New Zealand developers and designers to identify pain points and build apps to address them.

The work described here won Australia/New Zealand PR Campaign of the Year in the PRWeek Awards Asia.


Westpac was not perceived as a digital leader in the New Zealand market and while a number of innovations were planned and being worked on they were still at least 12 months away from being in market. The need for change was underlined by a survey of 800 New Zealanders the media team organised that showed 41 per cent believed mobile will be the main way of banking within three years and 66 per cent believed it will be the case in five years. In such a quickly changing and competitive environment the business needed to start repositioning itself immediately.


The Westpac Media Team originated and executed the ‘Westpac App Challenge’, a crowdsourcing competition for mobile banking apps. Westpac issued an open call to New Zealand software developers and designers, asking them to think as bank customers to identify a pain point they had then create a mobile app to make that process, transaction, application or any other common banking activity easier, faster and safer for our customers. Two winners would receive a cash prize and the opportunity to work with Westpac while their concept was developed and brought to market. The winners would retain their intellectual property rights so they could leverage the completed app anywhere else in the world after it had been launched locally. The campaign covered 12 weeks and included three stages – set up, drive for entries, and the judging process. Each stage was designed to present PR opportunities. The campaign required strong relationship management across multiple business units internally (legal, IT and digital teams, internal communications etc) as well as with multiple external stakeholders. A multi-channel communications approach using online, social and traditional media was developed.


The Westpac App Challenge exceeded expectations reaching an overall audience of more than 2.5 million people through traditional, online and social media channels. The App Challenge portal on Westpac’s website attracted 57,695 visits making it the most visited non-product or service page on the company’s main website during the campaign period.

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