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North Island Main Trunk Centenary

The North Island Main Trunk (NIMT) line is a vital transport link with a significant place in New Zealand's history. Its completion in 1908 was an engineering achievement of major importance.

2008 was the centenary of the NIMT, and ONTRACK (New Zealand Railways Corporation) re-enacted the first passenger train from Wellington to Auckland - the Parliamentary Special.

Campaign brand

Acumen was involved in the campaign from the start. The event management staff at ONTRACK were awesome to work with, scoping the project well right from the outset, allowing Acumen to create branding and visuals that would be flexible enough for the wide variety of uses required.

It became obvious quite early in our research that the best overall brand image was a painting of the original Parliamentary Special steam train. Acumen created a concept design for campaign material that combined the historical painting with modern design elements.

For an iconic symbol of the NIMT we chose the Makatote viaduct in National Park. The structure was an engineering feat in its own right, and in 2007 ONTRACK had won two prestigious Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) awards for innovative restoration work on the viaduct.

Campaign materials

The campaign strategy required the design and production of advertisments and posters for both national and local publicity. The train journey itself required a diverse range of souvenier items including badge, cup, presentation certificate, event programme, train ticket and headboard for the front of the train.

The centenary was a special event for many communities on the NIMT route. For each stopping point Acumen provided localised publicity — adverts, flags, banners, posters, signs, invites. The whole event was a year in the planning, with most items being produced in the last two months when particular event details were known. As the saying goes, "the train won't wait" and in this case it was literally true.

The keys to a successful campaign branding:

"I have worked with Acumen for almost five years. They have been a key element in communicating the re-vitalisation of the rail industry in New Zealand. In my view they are responsive, creative, pragmatic and good value for money. Critically, when there is an urgent job to be done, they are there."

Kevin Ramshaw, Public Affairs Manager, KiwiRail Group