Z Energy and Ampol

Making a whiteboard video – a fast and efficient approach

The Challenge

The partnership between Ampol and Z Energy marks a milestone in Ampol’s international growth strategy, poised to deliver benefits to Aotearoa New Zealand. This union not only reinforces Z’s position as the unrivalled fuel and convenience provider in the country but also promises a journey towards a brighter future. The synergy between these two dynamic forces sets the stage for a chapter of innovation, expansion, and opportunities in Aotearoa New Zealand’s energy landscape. 

A combined Ampol and Z Energy People & Culture team led the process of developing a leadership framework for the whole Ampol group. They contacted Synapsys to help with: 

  • Generating enthusiasm for the concept of all staff as leaders of self 
  • Cultivating excitement for the future within the team 
  • Outlining how leadership relies on everyone working to connect, act, and learn. 

To support these goals, we created a whiteboard-style animation that effectively communicates the new approach to all 9,000 members of the audience. The animation focuses on leadership in a distinctive Ampol manner, using storytelling to teach the concept.  

We knew we needed an iterative approach. Bouncing ideas back and forward was critical. It wasn’t about us going off on our own and producing a draft. We knew we needed to use agile simple processes. A polished compelling product can come from a rapid high trust working up of ideas in simple formats that can be easily changed without huge overhead.  

All the images from the animation are also now available across the whole Group to support communication and development around the new framework, including an infographic that brings together the key elements of the leadership framework into a coherent whole.  

“The animation on our leadership framework was easy to understand with key messages landing clearly across all levels of the organisation. Ensuring the scripting and animation was inspiring and inclusive was a key focus as we finalised our materials.”

Tom Clay | HR Director at Ampol

Our partnership

Julie Fitzgerald from Z and the Ampol team put a lot of thought into what was needed before we started our design. They had a clear understanding of the emotional journey they were seeking for the viewers of the animation, the framing around the framework, how the viewers were likely to approach the animation, and what they were hoping to achieve by making the video. They were very aware of the need for the animation to be short – under two minutes in total, while still providing real information.   

And they’d also talked to us early on, briefing us at the start of their discovery process before they’d finalised their thoughts, so we came to the design session with an existing understanding of their business need. When they were ready, they shared their thinking with us in an online hui – taking us through their ideas.  

We talked through the Z and Ampol Miro board and our team sat down together to brainstorm a script. Because the images and text need to support each other, we drew sketch after sketch as we worked, and read our script aloud over and over to get the flow of information just right.  

As our sketches came closer to a solid concept, we started to draw cleaned up versions. We recorded our draft script on a cellphone, and took photos of the sketches.  

Using VideoScribe, we threw together a working prototype to act as proof of concept and published it as a video.  

We took our prototype, script, and sketches back to the Z and Ampol team, and talked through the visual metaphors, flow of concepts, and storytelling.  

Having a working prototype helped to make the ways the script and images support each other clear for everyone.  

Having the content in Word made it easy for Z and Ampol to provide feedback. Our script shows the concept sketches mapped clearly against the words, so we never lose track of the visual elements and can plan how to support the words, rather than repeating them visually. The Word version also made word counts easy, helping to keep the length of the animation under control through the reviews.  

The Z and Ampol team reviewed the prototype with their stakeholders and fed back their changes and ideas.  

We rerecorded the script, again with a phone, and used a touchscreen PC to draw and save PNG sketches rapidly. When each sketch takes only a few seconds, the low time investment means it’s easy to try out ideas. Bringing those images and the new audio track into VideoScribe, we were able to make a fully animated lo-fi draft of the whiteboard video.  

We shared each video draft using the Vimeo video review tool, so Z and Ampol could provide feedback directly into the video as they watched, reducing the chance of requests for changes that would work against the flow of concepts. 

Having a working video right from the start at each stage of design and development, even when the images were very rough, meant that the focus of reviews could stay on the story and the flow of concepts. 


Watch the full video here:



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