The Air New Zealand business is thought to be up for pitch, with a rumoured list of Saatchi & Saatchi, DraftFCB, Special Group and the incumbent .99/Colenso all gunning for one of the country's best-loved brands.
Air New Zealand's marketing and communications manager Mike Tod declined an opportunity to talk and none of the agencies listed above would discuss their involvement—or otherwise—but it's thought various agencies were approached a few weeks ago for the credentials phase and the pitch is likely to be done and dusted before Christmas.
A global recession that's stopping long-haul travellers from visiting New Zealand and steadily increasing oil prices mean it's bloody tough in the airline market at the moment—and particularly so on the trans-Tasman routes. Air New Zealand's doing pretty well in comparison to many, in terms of revenue, various Best Airline accolades and its alliance with Virgin, but its latest result included a second half loss of $37 million (this was largely attributed to the effect of the Christchurch and Japanese quakes and the additional capacity/compassionate fares that cost the airline $70 million).
As such, it is thought the airline is looking to focus on getting more bums on seats, rather than on building the brand, as well as an increased focus on loyalty and direct.
Elsewhere in Air New Zealand land, local digital and social media outfit Contagion has launched a tongue-in-cheek, Beached Az-esque animation for grabaseat that focuses on our neighbours' inability to pronounce the name of New Zealand towns and cities.
As part of the Razorfish network, all of Contagion's Tourism New Zealand work has been done in offshore markets, so this is its first piece of local work.
The first viral ad is aimed at highlighting the benefit of flying with Air New Zealand, which covers 27 destinations nationwide, rather than the un-named orange one with an Australian accent.
“With a lot of help from our clients, we’ve created two iconic characters who really dial up the common misunderstandings and differences between Aussies and Kiwis,” says Contagion's creative director Bridget Taylor.