Water Safety New Zealand’s innovative summer safety campaign has won the Social Good Campaign category at the 2017 New Zealand Social Media Awards.

Made with support from ACC and by FCB New Zealand the campaign took a new approach to water safety, using social media and dark humour to reach at risk males in the 15 to 30- year-old age group.

This group make up a disproportionate amount of all preventable drownings, around a third of all fatal incidents despite being only 14 % of the population.

WSNZ Chief Executive Jonty Mills is pleased with the award after it was decided to try and hit this group a bit harder and attempt to connect with them in a genuine way.

“We wanted to make them stop and think and look out for each other. These young men are risk takers who overestimate their ability and often don’t think about the consequences of their bad decisions.”

Jonty Mills says digital technology has made it possible to target specific groups using geo- targeting.

“We were able to directly speak to the audience we wanted to reach and even around specific dangerous locations. Also by using a voice our audience could relate to we were able to get great engagement.”

The Swim Reaper campaign had an impressive engagement rate of 81% and was seen almost 10 million times across social media channels.

Acknowledging a more confrontational approach, WSNZ CEO Jonty Mills says The Swim Reaper through its unique personality was able to deliver positive safety messages, underpinned by potential consequences for bad decisions. “We are pleased the Swim Reaper took on a life of its own and really connected with young people.”

“We want all kiwis to enjoy the water, whatever activity they participate in. We also want them to go home safely to their families at the end of the day” says Mills.

“The Swim Reaper stands as a timely reminder to everyone that, while it’s great to enjoy our beautiful swimming spots, making bad choices around water can have deadly consequences.” 

There’s a chance the Swim Reaper may resurface again this summer to deliver his water safety messages in his dark and humourous style. Check him out on Instagram @iamtheswimreaper

New Zealand has one of the highest fatal drowning rates in the OECD. In 2016 there were 78 preventable deaths. 


Jonty Mills – CEO

Jonty joined Water Safety New Zealand in 2016. Previously he had spent more than 20 years in communications and external affairs leadership, operations and business development roles. He brings expertise in stakeholder management to CEO and ministerial level, with a blend of private and public sector experience.   A long-standing member of BP's Senior Leadership team and media spokesperson Jonty has a background of leadership roles in marketing, operations and business development across commercial and retail business channels.  During his time at BP, he was responsible for managing the company’s community partnerships – including Surf Life Saving New Zealand, Young Enterprise Trust and Royal Society of New Zealand – and has experience in advocacy as the interface between BP and central and local Government. He also helped embed safety as the number one priority and value across the organisation and is a strong advocate for Water Safety New Zealand’s core values and strategic direction.

 jonty@watersafety.org.nz   027 478 1836 


Funds will be used to support Water Skills For Life aquatic education at your local school or pool for children in years 1 to 8.


Swim Reaper cut through nets social media award

+ Text Size -
Original generation time 1.3799 seconds. Cache Loaded in: 0.0004 seconds.