Shortlisted 2020

Travel and Tourism


Tourism New Zealand

Entered by:

National Geographic Partners


Welcome To New Zealand

The Challenge

Millions dream about a New Zealand (NZ) “bucket-list” vacation. Independent professionals, pre/post children, they have likely travelled to Australia or maybe South Africa and they have heard many positive stories about New Zealand, its landscapes and its people. At the same time, air capacity to New Zealand is at an all-time high with increasing direct North American and Middle- East connectivity and prices at an all-time low. Tourism arrivals to NZ have been steadily increasing and whilst previous campaigns have successfully shifted dreamers to planners (2017 National Geographic and Bryce Dallas Howard North America campaign had a 16% conversions rate from dream to plan as a result of the campaign) they want to accelerate this mindset shift further to get dreamers booking their trip.

Having validated that the right media partner and the right story can impact the target audience behaviour therefore, the core communication challenge remains to inspire people to move New Zealand off their bucket list and on to their “next trip” list in order to optomise the growth in air capacity.


  • Funnel Acceleration: To accelerate conversion of our target audience through the visitor consideration funnel > 20%
  • Message Outtake: Shift dreamers of New Zealand from thinking that NZ is all about epic landscapes to feeling that the friendly and welcoming people and their connection with these landscapes is what will make a vacation
  • Campaign Performance Indicators :
  • Campaign Motivation: the effectiveness of the integrated campaign’s ability to create strong short-term motivation and long-term brand memories (brand building and tactical conversion effectiveness)
  • Content Engagement in Media Channels: 50% video completion rate 75% engagement rate on 5% engagement rate in social.
  • Efficient Market and Channel Expansion: Extend campaign content and com media buy to distribute in TNZ’s owned, earned, paid, and trade channels globally.

The Creative Solution

TNZ recognized it needed to further strengthen active considerers’ emotional connection with New Zealand if they were to accelerate people’s purchasing decisions. Proprietary research indicated that “friendly locals” is a strong motivator in destination choice at the top of the consumer funnel amongst active considerers of New Zealand in all markets.

With its uniquely warm way of welcoming people, inspired by the indigenous Māori concept Manaakitanga and representing a unique style of hospitality, generosity and kindness, this is an authentic brand truth for New Zealand . Previous visitors to New Zealand share that it is not just the epic landscapes that stay with you, it’s the way you feel when you’re in New Zealand . The warm way that New Zealanders embrace you, look after you, and invite you into their place and culture and these are the stories visitors share when they return home.

Using market -level insights about active considerers trip motivations, TNZ created storyboards of activities (wildlife, Maori culture, hiking, and nature) and regions (Nelson and Abel Tasman, Bay of Plenty and Kaikoura) to ensure the content would strongly resonate and engage with independent professionals from across the globe. Together, NG and TNZ selected authentic storytellers who would be excited to experience these places and whose creative talents would bring the people and culture to life through a plethora of mediums – Erika Larsen, an American-Norwegian photographer, Heather Greenwood-Davis, a Canadian journalist, and Christop Niemann – a German artist and instagrammer @abstractsunday.

Collaborating with local tourism offices and operators, each storyteller was matched with a local protaganist who shared similar passions and were known locally for epitomizing manaakitanga in their daily lives. Over an 8-day period, our storytellers travelled through New Zealand, meeting with artisans, park guides, chefs, wine makers and Maori leaders to name a few . They first met on camera in an unscripted, documentary style, capturing the spirit of the land and people in the moment. This was the secret sauce that led to warm conversations and emotional moments that can be felt throughout the content produced.

Videos, portraits and beautiful photography were created for use in the main campaign, but the storytellers shared their real-time reflections on social media, using Facebook live for experiences such as dolphin swimming and geysers blowing, and lnstagram for over-night reveals of Christoph Niemann’s illustrations.

The Media/Content Amplification Solution

Building on the learnings of the 2017 National Geographic branded content partnership which saw a 92% motivational impact in North America, NG were chosen again to be the exclusive content creator and core media partner for the New Zealand People and Place story.

To maximize budget and impact in a crowded competitive environment, TNZ needed a media strategy which would do the following: –

  1. allow TNZ to amplify the content and campaign in earned (social, media and trade partner), owned and paid channels
  2. allow TNZ to re-target the NG content engaged audience with lower funnel messaging whilst in the research planning mindset.
  3. Allow TNZ to run the campaign in multiple markets and maximise local engagement and salience

The resulting strategy was an insight-led, storyteller-driven campaign that would be delivered across borders and across platforms, applying the premise that multiple channels working together would produce a stronger impact as well as benefit from economies of scale.

In total, 150+ assets ran in USA, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, NZ, Germany, UK, Australia and India. They ran online, on TV and on mobile with the highlights as follows: –

  1. A focal point for the content was com which included portraits, landscapes, illustrations and animations as well as the hero 8 min films and 3- minute vignettes. Paid and unpaid video and link posts on National Geographic’s sizeable social media accounts were instrumental in driving traffic to the core content as well as on-site paid display and Apple News.
  2. Paid banners took people from the content hub to where more image galleries, maps and shorter videos led them deeper  into planning content. TNZ paid display, social and search tactics also drove visitors directly to, specifically targeting site look alike audiences, interest and behavioural targets.
  3. Sequential re-targeting strategies based on engagement with video in Facebook and on com saw different content being delivered to different mindsets at different frequencies . The highly qualified video audiences were retargeted with planning message banners or carousels before receiving geographically relevant airline offer messaging.
  4. Of the 150 assets, many were local language, but many were edit length variations to map with previous TNZ and NG testing on which lengths work best by channel, content type, audience and stage in the consumer

A 3-minute informative film edited specifically for the trade audience, facilitating training webinars and for use with clients.

The Result

Business Impact

  • Dreamers became bookers! Brand tracking research showed the number of independent professionals ready to book their trip increased significantly exceeding the +16% conversion target. Sample results: Ready to book rose by 132% in USA and by 58% in UK (Kantar Dec 18 to Jun 19)
  • Independent Professionals first preference desire for New Zealand rose from 33% to 39%
  • The Bay of Plenty region featured in the campaign outgrew other regions for tourism expenditure increasing 13% in June v same month prior year (Monthly Regional Tourism Estiates). Average performance for the country was 2%

Campaign Evaluation Qualitative Study

  • Genuine and warm locals was the main outtake for 17% of the audience, well above the TNZ campaign average of 3% and only second to landscapes on 21%.
  • 95% of independent professionals in top performing market were motivated to consider New Zealand, well above TNZ’s benchmark of 73% and above campaign target of 92%.
  • 71% claimed to recognize the campaign versus 37% for the 2017 campaign

NG Media Campaign performance metrics (Global average)

  • 76% of visitors to the content hub interacted with the page content (target 75%) with highest engagements seen on your shot galleries (95%), video content and dolphins!
  • 50% of site visitors completed video views (target 50%)
  • Social engagement rate averaged at 88% versus 3% target. This was driven largely by video posts, which achieved an extremely strong overall engagement rate of 15%
  • 41% increase in visits to versus prior year campaign

Market Expansion:

  • Across 8 countries, the campaign delivered 4m article view on along, exclusive of social media
  • The content was distributed globally by travel agents and airline partners expanding reach significantly at no extra
  • Media format and tactics performance varied by market generating real insights into which formats and channels consumers prefer.