The Fieldays Online concept and digital platform was created in just under 108 days. As New Zealand went into the national lockdown the New Zealand National Fieldays Society (NZNFS) began building an online event following the cancellation of the physical Fieldays; effectively transforming the largest agricultural show in the Southern Hemisphere into a completely virtual experience.
The success of the event, which was held from the 13th – 26th July, was measured in several ways, from visitor numbers to global reach. Total digital visitors hit 90,455, with attendees from over 75 countries accessing nearly 300 exhibitors and over 24 hours of Fieldays TV content. Digital adoption in higher age groups exceeded expectations with 40 per cent of registered users in the 50+ age group.
“The analytics show great viewership and engagement with the explosion of international visitors and, locally, a much higher regional spread beyond the traditional Fieldays. The success of this years’ event was a testament to the strong collaboration with our exhibitors and our relationships with industry leaders that got behind it despite not having a benchmark,” said Peter Nation, CEO NZNFS.
The timing of the event was positioned to allow time for exhibitors to return to business post lockdown and leverage the event to the fullest; whilst this fell during the beginning of calving, registered users in the dairy industry ranked third in industry type.
“It’s great to see Fieldays increasingly showcasing how we take our agricultural innovation global. Supporting growth and uptake of agritech will help future-proof the industry, increase high-value exports while improving sustainability and efficiency,” remarked Simon Yarrow, Agritech Group Manager at Callaghan Innovation.
International supporters, Enterprise Ireland, who attended Fieldays for the 14th year, found that moving to an online event widened engagement with clients and colleagues overseas.
“Despite the cancellation of the physical event, we found the digital space still supported the showcasing of our clients and Irish agritech innovation greatly. We used as many tools as possible from co-hosting webinars, our first virtual NZ Advisory Agri Panel through to the Fieldays exhibitor portal. The virtual Innovations arena and Innovation Awards really gave Irish participants a fantastic platform, enjoyed locally and at home in Ireland,” said Niall Casey, Enterprise Ireland’s Market Advisor for Agribusiness in New Zealand.
This was a sentiment echoed by the British High Commission who co-hosted a number of seminars on pressing issues facing agriculture in both NZ and the UK, and the scientific and agritech solutions to support collaboration between the countries. “Fieldays is not only for people within primary industries, but an event that showcases agritech capabilities and cooperation between countries, such as the UK and New Zealand, to a global audience. We were pleased we were able to continue our presence and are looking forward to the return of a physical event.”
Fieldays Online was created in partnership with Satellite Media, a digital innovation, activation, event and content creation agency based in Auckland.
“To build this platform in just over three months is astronomical, an event of this size and scope usually takes over a year with a large dedicated team. We’re grateful for our partnership with Satellite, their team went over and above to help us deliver Fieldays Online and it really paid off,” said Nation.
Another well-loved Kiwi brand that backed the event was Trade Me. Now a household name, the online marketplace opened up Fieldays to a wide and diverse audience.
“To have two trusted Kiwi brands working together was a huge privilege. We’re humbled that we were able to work with Trade Me to deliver our first digital event, it made sense to align ourselves with digital experts who are masters in connecting people and businesses,” added Nation.
The multifaceted platform included content from Fieldays TV, Fieldays Innovation Awards, the Health and Wellbeing Hub and a large exhibitor network. Fieldays Online was opened by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and an address from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.
Fieldays TV, was filmed live in studio and available on-demand throughout the event. The top performing elements included Fieldays Future Focus talks, a series of topical discussions with industry leaders. Fieldays Kitchen which featured seven Kiwi chefs including Simon Gault, Michael Van de Elzen, Nici Wickes, Brett McGregor, Belinda MacDonald and sisters Karena and Kasey Bird. The globally renown Fieldays Innovation Awards was streamed live and saw the highest number of live views.
Exhibitors that supported the first Fieldays Online did so without a benchmark. This leap of faith paid off for the team at Xero who enjoyed hosting their own Fieldays TV ‘Beautiful Business’ seminars throughout the event. “We were thrilled with the new format as it provided the opportunity to connect with the wider Agri community. It’s a testament to the Fieldays team’s experience that they were able to quickly pivot into an online event so successfully,” said Xero NZ Brand and Marketing Director, Valerie Walshe.
Hyundai NZ, supporters of Fieldays since 2004 and a partner of the NZNFS since 2012, also got behind the event. “Both our organisations have always had a strong focus on innovation, so we were supportive of the idea of trying something new and taking the event online. It was a large undertaking in a short amount of time and the Fieldays team pulled it off. The site looked good, there was some really engaging content through Fieldays TV and it was great to see an array of exhibitors offering deals as well as valuable information to online attendees,” commented Hyundai NZ General Manager Andy Sinclair.
Exhibitors who paid for a site for the physical event were offered the choice of an 80 per cent refund or to leave their site fees with the society for the 2021 event. Only 27 per cent opted for a refund. Of the online exhibitors, four per cent were new Fieldays exhibitors.
The event was supported by local industry leaders including Farmlands Co-operative, Federated Farmers, NZ Young Farmers, DairyNZ, AgritechNZ, Precision Farming, Greenlea Meats and Gallagher Animal Management. Guest speakers from these organisations featured on Fieldays TV to discuss a range of relevant industry issues.
Other guest speakers included well-known economist Cameron Bagrie, Global Head of Agribusiness at KPMG Ian Proudfoot, Kirsten Patterson CE of the Institute of NZ Directors, Sirma Karapeeva CEO of the Meat Industry Association, Mike Chapman CEO of Horticulture NZ, award-winning farmer Mike Peterson and Philip Gregan CEO of NZ Winegrowers Association. Other key supporters included Amazon Web Services, James and Wells and Vodafone who hosted and featured in specialised talks and shows over the event.
Nation acknowledged that the online and physical Fieldays are two different types of events built to achieve different goals and speak to different audiences.
“This provides great opportunity for 2021 when we bring the two together to make the absolute best of both. Fieldays Online is an extension of what we can offer in the future and it’s about keeping Fieldays alive. The digital event will provide longevity to the physical event as well as maximising coverage for exhibitors and visitors, supporting jobs and boosting the economy.”