At a time when everyone and their grandma is glued to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on their smartphone, what better way to target people during a political campaign than through social media.
That is how the kererū won Bird of the Year 2018.
Now in its eighth year, Forest and Bird’s Bird of the Year campaign has been successfully raising awareness of New Zealand’s native birds and habitats.
This year, the kererū, also known as kūkūpa or wood pigeon, glided to a landslide victory. The drunk and gluttonous bird won an overwhelming number of votes, receiving more than 5,800 in the final polls, nearly 2,000 more than the runner up, the kākāpō.
Not only did the kererū get a majority vote – Bird of the Year does not have MMP yet – but it also overcame an Australian hacking scandal mid campaign.
The success of the Bird of the Year’s social media campaign is highlighted by its international coverage, particularly by The Guardian and the BBC – neither of whom has yet to mention any other New Zealand story this week.
Our own Green Party MP Chlӧe Swarbrick, one of the kererū’s campaign managers, was interviewed by BBC world news to discuss the popularity of the bird.
Swarbrick pointed to the kererū’s drunk and disorderly behaviour after having eaten too much fermented fruit as its major source of popularity. Like many young New Zealanders returning home at three in the morning, the bird is often heard before it is seen. The kererū has even been known to fall out of the odd tree after having eaten too many fermented fruit.
Despite the kererū’s rambunctious personal behaviour, it acted with the utmost decorum publicly during the entire campaign. In all of the bird’s media appearances, it didn’t fall out of a tree drunk once.
If there is one lesson to be learnt from the kererū story, it is that social media is the key to a successful political campaign.
If a drunk and gluttonous bird can get away with drunk and disorderly behaviour, imagine what a politician could get away with, that is with the right social media campaign.