Curative, Impolitikal, Jade Tang

Q&A | Curative’s Jade Tang on creating for social change

Jade Tang and Eddy Helm are the friends behind Curative, an Auckland, New Zealand-based creative agency that exclusively take on projects that “help make the world a little bit better.” Their work is always exceptional, and unique in its commitment to highlighting socially-minded projects via any means possible. Here’s Jade on the what, why and how of Curative.

What are Curative about?
We are pioneers of big ideas, and love the challenge of finding unique and engaging ways to tell the stories of amazing changemakers. We know how to create brands that stand out, and how to get people behind a cause. We believe that if we’re going to build a sustainable, just and thriving future, then socially-minded organisations need just as much attention as corporate brands, in order to spread their message to the world and encourage people to be part of positive change. Our clients include community and not-for-profit organisations, philanthropists, government partnerships and social enterprise ventures.

Why did you and Eddy decide to start the agency?
We initially ran (and volunteered at) yMedia, a youth-driven social enterprise that connected students, community and industry. However, yMedia wasn’t financially, mentally or emotionally sustainable. We realised pretty quickly that our hearts were very much in the community sector though, so we decided to start a creative agency that served causes, not-for-profits and community organisations.

What are some key Curative projects?
Some of our latest projects include: Common Ground, a project committed to supporting positive mental health and wellbeing for young people. We partnered with innovate changeMental Health FoundationYouthline and Skylight to respond to the need for greater access to information for parents, families and friends of young people. Common Ground is a central hub, including a website, phone line, web-series and information pack service to give whānau [family] access to information, tools and support, so they can assist young people to get the right kind of help when they need it. We also created a web-series that explores themes relevant to the mental health and wellbeing of young people, and that are reflective of real-life scenarios. The Common Ground website also provides space for sharing ideas and experiences, acknowledging the expertise and wisdom of parents, whānau and young people themselves. People can connect by sharing their own experiences and suggestions about supporting young people.

Another recent (and continuing) project is ‘Steer Clear’, for the New Zealand Drug Foundation. The project seeks to raise awareness of the effects that smoking cannabis has on a young person’s ability to drive, and encourages young people to find safer alternatives to driving high. The campaign uses various integrated components to engage young people, including a full-scale driving ‘experience’ which is touring through events during 2014/15, a website, social media activity and content, and a radio partnership with Mai FM.

We are also the Creative Partner for Leadership NZ, which is a not-for-profit trust that focusses on developing and enhancing the quality of our future leaders. Together we are invigorating the brand to better reflect its current legacy, mana, diversity and energy. Our work together has included a full rebrand of the organisation, and support to create real experiences, such as the annual Dinner with a Difference event, which truly bring the brand to life. Our relationship with Leadership NZ is ongoing, and includes the design and production of key publications like Leaders Magazine, the Yearbook and quarterly e-newsletters.

Can you explain your approach to branding and design? What makes you unique from other agencies?
We are committed to co-design as a way of developing useful, innovative and meaningful communication solutions. This approach is about connecting with the intended target audience from the outset in order to help us co-create and shape a product, website, brand or social platform that will result in high levels of engagement and use. Also, we frequently work with very limited budgets so we really need to be extra creative with our resources.

What have been some of your greatest creative / Curative challenges, and how did you approach them?
Every day we learn something new, and every day is filled with challenges – especially given some of the subject matter that we work with. Having conversations about suicide, sexual violence, gender diversity, bullying and personal wellbeing is all in a day’s work at Curative. And we know that we have a huge responsibility to have these conversations with respect, and that there are lots of potential risks to manage when we explore this subject matter.

Other than the work we produce, growing our team has also been something that we’ve needed to manage carefully. We started out just the two of us, Jade and Eddy working together and deciding everything ourselves. Now we manage a team of seven and various creative partners, and we’ve had to learn how to make sure everyone has a voice, how to let go and trust our team with clients and decisions, and we’re always looking for better ways to keep the workflow fluid, without micromanaging the details.

Overall though, no matter the challenge, we know the importance of honest and open communication. It’s really important to be able to constructively debate, and resolve, all issues, no matter how big or small. Working with people we care about, and who want to push for the best results is ultimately what helps us overcome any hurdles that lie before us.

Who are some of your collaborators and co-designers?
We are really committed to building the best team for every project, which means having a series of local and global networks. Beyond our core crew, we have a few freelancers (writers, directors, editors, stylists, designers) who we regularly use to help make our creative thoughts and dreams a reality.

We also regularly collaborate on campaigns with other creative businesses, [including] innovate change96blackHandle the JandalSocialites and Static Communicate. On a global scale, we are partners with CreativeMornings and The Feast, which sees us working to their creative guidelines that we tailor to the New Zealand context.

One of the things that we’re really passionate about is meeting and connecting with new people. We try to reserve Friday afternoons exclusively for this purpose… and we’re also offering a paid social change summer internship next year!

What are CreativeMornings?
CreativeMornings is a free monthly lecture series for the creative community. We host the Auckland chapter and are proud to say that we were the 11th chapter to sign up – there are now 100 chapters worldwide. We see CreativeMornings as our way to give back to, and reconnect with the creative community. This is where we have all come from after all!

Impolitikal-Curative-Jade-Tang-Eddy-HelmJade Tang is co-founder of Curative. For more about Curative and the work they do visit