Matt Benson

Adapting to change can be hard for anyone let alone on a large scale. That’s why Wellington’s largest independent creative agency EIGHTYONE has launched a new offering specialising in behaviour change.



Tangible Media

In Association With Eightyone

Eightyonebc is a unique consultancy combining data, insight and creative to tackle some of New Zealand’s biggest behavioural change challenges. Lead by Matt Benson, the Eightyonebc team includes Tracey Bridges as chair of Eightyone, Jason Wells CEO of DOT loves data, and Chris Bleackley executive creative director of Eightyone. For Matt, cofounder and director of the new consultancy, the launch was prompted by finding like-minded people with diverse skill sets and common goals to work with. “I’ve worked with Tracey Bridges over the years and to be honest I’ve always jumped at any chance to collaborate,” he says. “Her grasp of strategy, on what works, on the types of questions that need to be asked and her incredible empathy for those that ultimately benefit from change has always been an inspiration.” Previously working as a researcher Matt admired the work that Jason Wells and the team at DOT loves data produced. “Hard core analytics empowering great story telling is a unique mix, and a great match to my own background where I have been hands on with the team at The Navigators conducting countless focus groups, interviews, workshops and surveys with a huge diversity of people and communities across the motu.” The agency also recently launched Eightyonem with Grant Maxwell who is experienced in the behaviour change realm. “And the whole creative culture that Chris Bleackly leads and nurtures, completes the picture. “Having the right people in place has allowed this to happen. And people are what it’s all about,” Matt adds. As for leading successful behavioural change Matt says it comes from “great creative, great media, great campaign strategy, great data analytics” which in many ways has always been the focus of Eightyone. “But at the same time, behaviour change as a specialist science and a practice has matured, and there is the opportunity to harness behavioural insights to crack human problems using these skills alongside traditional agency approaches. “It adds value strategically but also to design and delivery. In that sense it is simply worth investing as a stand-alone offering because it works.” Matt says this specialist offering also provides a “unifying framework” and a way to pull existing skills such as data insight, strategy and creative together in a more compelling way. “My hope is that Eightyonebc will act as an enabler, catalyst and amplifier to the already great work the Eightyone group are doing across these domains for all of their clients.” With an “explosion” of interest, application and criticism of behaviour change tools and techniques recently, Matt says there has been huge expansion in the resources and approaches available, which meant the opportunity to launch Eightyonebc was “difficult to ignore”. “From the mainstreaming of nudging, to the overlaying of increasingly popular change models, to co-design and the rise of system thinking as a counterpoint to fixating on individual change, we’ve seen an enormous expansion in the resources and approaches available. “Applying a behavioural lens opens up different inputs but also applies a really important discipline to creation, testing and evaluation. From the models that shape our thinking, to how we gather insights, the type of data we interrogate, and importantly how we design strategy and solutions in a way that includes partners that have both learned and lived experience. All of these considerations come into play when we apply a behavioural lens. “Fundamentally the launch of Eightyonebc is Eightyone responding and adapting to new challenges in new ways.” Working with Eightyonebc, clients can look forward to starting new conversations and having new briefs created to reframe big issues that allow opportunity for change. This might mean working alongside people at the start of their journey tackling a new problem or having the opportunity to solve an age-old problem Matt says. “Or it might mean coming in to help unstick thinking, when challenges get too hard.” Matt says clients can utilise the Eightyonebc team’s strengths as part of their wider advertising brief or for something entirely outside of the traditional advertising framework. “It will be an approach based on collaboration and partnering. Our focus will be on bringing a range of different perspectives to the table from the very start, and helping our clients find the solution that’s right for them.” As ESG becomes a major talking point for many brands, Matt believes that true social change happens when all parts of the system are engaged from the public sector, to companies, consumers and citizens. “I do think that companies need to beware that the tolerance for talk has changed. Our evidence seems to suggest that consumers and citizens have more finely tuned their BS detectors. They have become more aware and engaged in these domains and simply have higher expectations of accountability and action. “This means that companies and public sector organisations need to be utterly authentic in their expectations of change for themselves – as well as for their “target markets”. If they are not, they will add to the fatigue or fatalism that we are seeing increase amongst people at large.” And unfortunately this growth in fatigue and fatalism is something Matt has noticed in research projects he has been involved in. “Those being asked to change without the opportunity to do so, withdraw or become immune to change efforts. This gets even worse when the people hoping for system change lose trust as goals are announced, but actions are thin on the ground, or programmes don’t take into account equity issues or are simply poorly communicated making them hard to understand or make sense of.” Ultimately it all comes back to working with people committed to change and working together to uncover new ways to make an impact he says. “There is broad consensus about what we need to change and why. Activating this change is the challenge and how to do this in ways that work for everyone is what excites me. Transition ambitions are all around us, whether it be in health, road safety, climate or in the movement to true partnering, codesign and co-governance. All of these transitions require us to be human centred, to consider not just the behaviours we need to change, but how people are supported and designed for. “To get this right, more than ever we need to draw on each other’s strengths and experiences. Being part of this new team and the opportunity to deeply engage in the change community to create positive change is what I’m looking forward to.” To learn more about Eightyonebc please contact