Jacinda Ardern used Tinder to advertise in 2014, now she's endorsing TikTok for COVID-19 messaging

After using Tinder to advertise in 2014, Jacinda Ardern is now endorsing the Ministry of Health to use TikTok for COVID-19 messaging, in a bid to capture youth attention. 

The Government is facing questions about the effectiveness of its COVID-19 messaging after a community case of coronavirus claimed she didn't receive clear instructions to self-isolate

Ardern maintains the Government did give clear instructions, but says she's open to improving the communication around COVID-19 messaging, including reaching out to young people through video-based apps like TikTok. 

"Oh yeah, absolutely," Ardern said on Tuesday, when asked if she'd be happy for the Ministry of Health to advertise on the app. "We need to go where people are. I've always been open to that."

But don't expect to see Ardern on TikTok anytime soon. 

"I don't think there is any possible way that I could do a TikTok with COVID messaging that would be seen as acceptable to any age demographic," she laughed. 

"Look, if other people want to use TikTok for messaging, then I by all means encourage it. We've not ruled out platforms that are useful.

"If people want to use different forms I'd encourage them to do so. Just because we do or don't doesn't mean it's not useful."

Ardern said it wasn't so long ago that she used dating app Tinder to get her message across to potential voters in 2014 when she was campaigning to win Auckland Central. 

"It was a long time ago now but I once put an election advertisement on Tinder, so I'm all for everyone using creative means of communicating - absolutely," Ardern said. "Let's not be conservative about that."

Ardern created a campaign #askjacinda during the 2014 election, which was a riff on the 'Ask Me Anything' series popularised by Reddit.  

Jacinda Ardern's 2014 Tinder ad.
Jacinda Ardern's 2014 Tinder ad. Photo credit: Dan News

"I think I should make it very, very clear that the ad makes it very obvious that I'm not there for the traditional purposes of Tinder," Ardern said at the time

"It's basically just a little ad that says look, if you want to talk about politics, if you haven't found what you're looking for on here but you want to talk about politics instead, drop us a line." 

Ardern said on Tuesday the Government tries to strike a balance between COVID-19 messaging that is targeted to youth and everyone else.  

"I popped something up on Instagram and was told it was too casual," she said. "What we try and do is make sure that we are putting out messages across multiple platforms and using multiple forms of communicators as well."

Ardern said the Government engages with the Ministry for Pacific Peoples and other various other groups and community leaders to ensure messaging gets out to everyone. 

She said the reason the Government's messaging isn't being picked up by some people might have something to do with New Zealand's relative COVID-19 success so far. 

"I think there's been a long period of time where we haven't had to go into level 3 restrictions and I don't think we should take it for granted that everyone remembers exactly what's required at that level," she said. 

"We've always kept the simplicity of an alert level system to try and make it easier. But it doesn't hurt for us to just continue to repeat those messages time and time again.

"The team of 5 million, we have never been perfect - in this last 12 months we have never, ever been perfect. We've had breaches, we've had mistakes made, but our success has been that we've all got on together - we've all made it work together in spite of those blips and that's what we have to do again."