Canterbury brings out the big guns to ramp up Aussie visitors

  • Marketing
  • October 20, 2010
  • Ben Fahy
Canterbury brings out the big guns to ramp up Aussie visitors

Youtube VideoDunedin's well-received new campaign tapped into its local networks to try and discover some of the region's quirks and secrets. And Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism has taken a similar approach for its new tourism push, although instead of crowd-sourcing ideas from the hoi polloi, it's using "global TV star" and proud Cantabrian Phil Keoghan as its ambassador. Tourism New Zealand launched a similar—and apparently quite successful—campaign earlier this year, where three 'docu-ads' featuring musicians Scribe, Liam Finn and the Mint Chicks ran on MTV Australia to show younger Australian viewers a different, more personal side to the country. And the NZ$925,000 six-week TV campaign has also taken this personal, documentary style approach, with Keoghan, the multi-Emmy Award winning host of The Amazing Race, filming a series of six 15-second TV commercials and a number of behind-the-scenes clips as part of the ‘Phil’s Best Kept Secrets’ campaign, in which he travels to Aoraki Mt Cook, Tekapo, Mt Hutt, Nin's Bins in Kaikoura, Christchurch, Banks Peninsula and Waipara.

Canterbury received a financial boost of $775,000 last year from the $5 million allocated by the guvmint to eight regional tourist organisations. And Keoghan, who is now based in the United States because of work commitments, signed on earlier in year to promote his home region.

“The Amazing Race has taken me all over the world to some amazing places but there still nothing like coming home to New Zealand, and, of course, Canterbury has a special place in my heart because this is where my folks live," he says. "Each time I visit here I am reminded just how special this place is and I’m very excited about sharing some of my home-grown knowledge of what Canterbury has to offer to our visitors."

Gail Anderson, managing director and creative director of AMG Agency, which created the campaign, says there was no way they could have afforded Keoghan's normal fee. But, because he's a local boy who actually believes in the cause, she says he offered them a very generous rate. And while it is still about showing off what Canterbury has to offer, it's certainly not just about towing the 100% Pure line.

"It's also about us. We're not just clean and green. We've got a hell of a lot more to offer," she says. As such, the campaign, which she says was done on a shoe string budget, showcases a collection of local characters, from crayfishermen to the manager of Mt Hutt.

"These personalities are the ‘keepers of the secrets’ and the people that reveal their magic to our visitors," she says. "...It's the whole psychology that when you travel you remember the people the most."

It's also a full-blown Canterbury production, with AJ Films on production duties, directorial duties shared between Anderson and Callam Green and original local music used for the sound-track.

The campaign, which starts in Australia on 24 October for spring and will continue for the 2011 autumn and winter to highlight the region’s different seasons, isn't just notable for its famous frontman, however. Like the new Dunedin initiative, there are a range of stakeholders involved and the fact that it is being supported by Christchurch City Council, Christchurch International Airport, Nelson Tasman Tourism, Tourism West Coast and Destination Marlborough, major airlines and ski area operators marks a new, more cohesive approach to its regional tourism marketing.

Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism's acting chief executive Ian Hay (ex-Tourism New Zealander Tim Hunter will take over soon) says it's a bit of coup to have someone of Keoghan's international calibre represent the region and he says all the organisations involved are excited about the potential gains on offer.

"We’ve set ourselves some ambitious targets but we’re confident we can achieve them and in doing so provide a significant financial boost to our tourism industry, which is such a vital part of our economy,” he says.

Given it's tax payer money being used here, the government has some fairly strict requirements on performance. But with the region still shaking, it will be interesting to see if the Aussie travellers are happy come and visit so soon after the earthquake.

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