First it was naked staff. Then it was naked old ladies. Then it was blow up dolls. And the latest campaign from Air New Zealand to promote its new 777-300 planes, which take flight later this year, is also a bit raunchy, featuring as it does a budding travel author/furry lothario called Rico who has an entertainingly poor grasp of English and a talent for unintentional innuendo.
Air New Zealand's head of creative shop Jules Lloyd says Rico was a collaboration between her team, 99, Jim Henson's Creature Shop, Curious and "our very talented puppeteer Tyler".
"The Creature Shop were truly fantastic to work with – from the first meeting I had with them at the Henson’s Lot to discuss the initial concept, to the design and build phases, to their involvement here in New Zealand at the film shoot. They are a very talented, passionate, yet down to earth team – that are masters in the world of puppetry."
She says Rico is a "charming but fairly unlikely ambassador for an airline". And, once again, the content is all about capturing the imagination of travellers by pushing a few boundaries "with a series of quirky and distinct online videos" (they even require a warning for their suggestive language and themes).
"Rico is a well-meaning, budding travel author, who discovers and shares the many joys to be experienced on board the new 777-300’s. Unable to contain his enthusiasm for life, Rico lets his passion rub off all over his fellow travellers through sharing some intimate moments with them—with awkward, amusing results."
There certainly seems to be a theme developing for the national carrier and while some might see this latest marketing effort as a bit lowest common denominator, perhaps even a bit of a desperate attempt to replicate the success of its earlier attention-grabbing efforts, if nothing else, giving the brand a human/Muppet face has certainly created some slightly more interesting (and potentially controversial) Facebook commentary.
You can check out more of Rico's performances in the coming weeks on www.youtube.com/airnewzealand.