girl and rabbit

Youth Campaign - Love Better


Love Better is a primary prevention campaign aimed at fostering safe, positive, and equal relationships. It is a whole-of-population campaign that aims to disrupt and/or shift harmful discourses and behaviours around relationships that are universal and affect all young people.

MSD developed a plan to ensure social marketing, youth development and prevention approaches followed best practice, which included an extensive literature review (Beres, Pearman-Beres & Johns, 2020) and formative audience research. As a result of the research and input from a number of key academics, MSD partnered with Clemenger BBDO to develop a primary creative concept and a proposal for execution.

Love Better will complement curriculum-based programmes and other cohort-specific campaigns being led by the Health Promotion Agency (HPA), E Tū Whānau and Pasefika Proud. The campaign is an action of the Youth Plan 2020-2022.

Campaign Strategy

Adolescence is when we begin to explore our sexuality through romantic and sexual relationships. It is a period when our beliefs and attitudes about sex, relationships and gender can be challenged – or reinforced – by peers, whānau, and popular culture. It is a time of change and discovery as we start to develop identities that separate us from our parents.

The campaign is a whole-of-population initiative, underpinned by public health principles:

  • If we… Foster safe, positive, and equal sexual and romantic relationships
  • So that… Young people can confidently navigate the social, cultural and peer norms and discourses that shape their expectations of sexual and romantic relationships
  • Then… They can better identify and avoid abuse and learn how to love better
  • And ultimately… Young people will be set up for the best chance of lifelong safe, positive, and equal relationships.

The campaign will involve multiple phases, connected by the universal Love Better platform that speaks to all young people.

The first phase of Love Better will focus on supporting young people through break-ups.

Future phases will be based on our findings from the first phase, as we learn how young people are engaging across various social media channels.

Phase one – Break-ups

Bad experiences (beyond the ‘normal’ hurt of breaking up) had been experienced by 68% of research respondents. Consequences of break-ups included self-harm, depression, substance abuse, risky sexual behaviours, and violence and coercion – including blackmail, jealousy and revenge, possessiveness, and stalking.

Feeling hurt as a result of a breakup is a normal part of being human. How we respond to that hurt can cause more hurt or even harm to ourselves and others.

A concept was developed that asks young people to “Own the Feels”.

Own the Feels will support young people to acknowledge or own their pain and to channel it into something positive for themselves, this includes normalising or removing the stigma attached to asking for help.

This phase is aimed at acknowledging that break-ups hurt but there is a way through without harming themselves or others. The campaign will focus on building the skills and knowledge that young people need to safely navigate break-ups, whilst creating a peer-to-peer community to learn from and inspire each other.

The concept resonated well with young people during testing, and the involvement of the Ministry and their commitment to a much broader ‘love better’ campaign was welcomed. Positive sentiment was generally based on acknowledging that young people often don’t have the experience or emotional maturity, to deal with the big feelings that occur during a break-up. Young people expressed a desire to learn how to avoid causing unnecessary hurt or harm to themselves and to others – often expressed as a desire to ‘not do something I might regret’.

The campaign will be shared through multiple media partners, ensuring we reach young people where they are, offering a broad range of content to suit different styles of media consumption.

Audience testing

We completed audience research and testing with over 1,200 young people, testing the approach, creative idea, execution, as well as developing a baseline for measuring shifts in attitudes and behaviours over the lifespan of the campaign.

Young people involved in the audience research welcomed an initiative that would help minimise harm during break-ups. The concept behind the campaign resonated with the young audiences, and the involvement of the Ministry and their commitment to a much broader ‘love better’ campaign was welcomed.

“Wow I'm very happy that the MSD is working on this! I think love is a complicated thing … we will need to know how to deal with break-ups better in order to Love Better” (Morag)

“I think its good a government office is doing this, this shows they care about people. we have lots of issues to solve and this is on the right track to help with New Zealanders mental health problems” (Johnathon)

“I believe it’s a great idea. It is a great idea because there’s no other thing like it. It’s a need out there and thank you guys for figuring it out” (Kahu)

Keeping our young people safe

We have worked closely with the Ministry of Youth Development to identify concerns and potential risks. We also tested the concepts and taglines with representatives from the family and sexual violence sectors to identify any red flags. None were identified.

Youthline have been contracted to provide a dedicated Love Better support text and email service once the campaign goes live.

Safety of our young people is paramount in the development and launch of this campaign. Professional support was (and will continue to be) provided to all young people involved in research for the campaign. We have also engaged the services of a senior social worker to provide one-on-one support for each young person who is engaged to share their story prior to the launch. This includes screening the participants to ensure they are in a good headspace before they participate. If needed, further appropriate support will be provided by the social worker, Youthline or other applicable service.

Ara Taiohi have provided training to all staff working on the campaign, both internal and external, on best practice principles when working with young people. Our partners will also receive training on family and sexual violence, and healthy relationships from RespectEd Aotearoa, with input from other sector partners.

In developing this campaign, we have engaged with:

  • Young people
  • The Classification Office
  • Ministry of Youth Development
  • Ministry of Education
  • Ministry of Health
  • Department of Internal Affairs
  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • The Light Project
  • Ara Taiohi

For more information about Love Better, contact the team on

For any media enquiries, contact our media team on

Funding to support this work

The Campaign for Action on Family Violence received increased funding from Budget 2019 to develop a new campaign targeting young people (16 -24 years). Further investment to support this work over the next three years has been provided through Budget 2022.

girl and rabbit
Print this page.