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- From Autism New Zealand's latest Newsletter

In our last edition of Thinking Differently, we told you about our plan to auction the naming rights sponsorship for our annual appeal week on Trade Me. The auction was a huge success - for a number of reasons - and it was also thrilling to watch, as it generated more than 38,000 views and dozens of comments and questions throughout the 10 days that it was live.

We were overwhelmed by the response – particularly in the comments section and were kept very busy answering all the questions that were posted. It was very humbling to see that an auction like that could generate so much interest and positive feedback. We chose to auction the naming rights sponsorship because when a couple of our supporters (MetService and Y&R) suggested it, we thought it was a great example of thinking differently about sponsorship – and thinking differently is what ASD is all about.

For those of you who didn’t watch the close of the auction, it was a nail-biting finish in true Trade Me fashion. Just three hours before the auction closed, the leading bidder was Calendar Girls, a Christchurch-based adult entertainment company. That certainly generated an enormous amount of comment on the auction, and probably contributed to the media coverage it received. The controversial bid certainly captured the attention of several other businesses in New Zealand, and over the last three hours of the auction the bid rose over $30,000 to close at $52,100. The winning bidder was the Cookie Time Charitable Trust. Their mission is ‘Helping NZ kids discover their gifts’, which makes them a perfect partner for Autism New Zealand.

The Cookie Time Charitable Trust (CTCT) was established in 2003 by brothers Guy Pope-Mayell and Michael Mayell, founders of the phenomenally successful New Zealand business Cookie Time. “We established CTCT because we wanted to be able to give something back to the community,” explains Michael Mayell. “The trust is dedicated to improving the educational opportunities available for children and young people throughout New Zealand.”

Anyone with a sweet tooth will be familiar with Cookie Time’s yummy products, especially their famous Christmas Cookies, which are sold specifically to raise money for the Trust. Last year, Cookie Time sold more than 212,000 buckets of Christmas Cookies, with $1 from each bucket sold going directly to CTCT.

“We started out by funding the establishment of eTime, a technology-rich and innovative education centre in Christchurch. Setting up eTime went really well, so we decided to get more serious about our community efforts it and we came up with the idea of supporting New Zealand kids to find their talents,” says Michael.

“My nephew Shey has dyslexia – which, like autism, is not well supported by government and other funders in New Zealand. And like those with ASD and Asperger’s Syndrome, a lot of children with dyslexia struggle at school, and find it hard to believe they have real talents. So we became more involved in the dyslexia community and this eventually led to setting up the Dyslexia Foundation, which CTCT has been supporting since its inception.”

So how did CTCT make the connection to Autism New Zealand? In lots of ways, it’s thanks to the bid that Calendar Girls put in on the Trade Me auction. “I was in bed about 11:30 one night when my brother, Guy, called me, very excited. He said he’d just received an email that mentioned the TV3 article about the auction and he told me that it was perfect for CTCT. We decided then and there that we had to win the auction,”

Michael says.“Guy had been talking to me for a while about exploring what we could do for autism in New Zealand, because Shey has also been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and so we were aware that although dyslexia and ASD are very different, they have similarities too, especially in terms of the best approach to supporting students within schools. But the auction was the catalyst to make contact and, with more than 38,000 views, we think the auction was a great way to raise awareness, as well as raising money,” says Michael.

“Our IT guy, Chris, is a bit of a Trade Me buff, so we sat down with him and made a plan of attack so we could win it. So Chris was doing the bidding, with me on the phone in one ear and our General Manager on the phone in the other. Guy was on a plane somewhere over Asia when the bidding closed, so he had to wait to land before finding out we’d been successful. It was very exciting stuff, and the final amount was only slightly over our original budget of $50,000.”

“We’re actually really excited about the long-term prospects for the relationship with Autism New Zealand. We are already looking at how we can work together in other areas over the long term. It’s not just about the money, although that always helps. But we will also be able to raise the profile of ASD in New Zealand.”

Here at Autism New Zealand, we also had an exciting few hours watching the auction as it closed, and Michael wasted no time in getting in contact with us to begin what we hope will be a long relationship between the two organisations. “Of course, we couldn’t have done it without the support of all the businesses that donated to the auction itself,” explains Alison Molloy, CEO of Autism New Zealand. “Our thanks and gratitude go to Y&R Advertising, Trade Me, Mediaedge:cia, MetService, GEON, Newsletters Limited, Simply Food, Slingshot and Gibson Sheat for generously donating their products and services to enable the auction to happen.”



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