Most of Tourism New Zealand's sizable marketing and comms budget now gets directed towards digital channels in an effort to get 'active considerers' on the plane. And its latest work via Contagion is trying to tempt the Gen Ys back for some backpacking with Storiesbeatstuff.com, something the agency believes is "possibly the largest social media campaign a New Zealand agency has produced".
The basic idea is to get people to upload a video or take a picture detailing what they'd swap—whether it be a partner, dad's car, one of their kidneys or a "taxidermy squirrel called Murray"—for an epic experience in New Zealand.
“New Zealand used to be on top of people’s backpackers lists in the '90s but is now under increasing pressure in recent years by markets such as South America opening up and backpackers flocking to Asia, and not making the trip down our way," says Tourism New Zealand general manager of marketing communication’s Justin Watson. "This has been further exacerbated by the global recession with people now either staying at home or getting jobs in their gap years."
But Contagion's creative director Bridget Taylor says the the fact that backpackers reckon the best stories they have from their around-the-world trips came from New Zealand sparked the basis for the strategy and the idea.
"As one backpacker told us, 'He or she who dies with the best stories wins'. With this in mind we came up with the campaign thought that ‘Stories Beat Stuff’ asking young people globally what they would trade to get here. Essentially, we've created a global trading centre that will run for the next year, offering two totally new, completely authentic $20,000 New Zealand experiences every two months.”
The campaign has been rolled out across the world through the Razorfish network, with specific up-weights in the USA, UK and Europe. And, in an effort to drum up more interest in the idea, it was launched with content from 100 influential bloggers from around the world.
“We consulted with Facebook and Google/YouTube, both here and overseas and found that people are much more likely to enter into a community if they can see other influencers have already done so," says Contagion's social influence director and ex-Air New Zealand social media man Tom Bates says. "This clearly pointed the way to a smarter socially integrated launch strategy, including a large multi-national Facebook media campaign run from New Zealand. Translating much of the work to German was interesting to say the least."
The winners and their best mate get to come to New Zealand, blog and post about their trip and then announce the next experience up for grabs. But they also have to hold up their end of the bargain and make the trade mentioned in their video to a charity.
Youtube VideoThe social media focus of this initiative follows on from a recent integrated marketing, trade and public relations campaign aimed specifically at the German market where comedian Bernhard Hoecker came to New Zealand on a nine-day tour and participated in activities as voted by his German YouTube, Facebook and Twitter followers
It's no David on Demand or Twitchiking, but, with more than 6,800 activity suggestions received, it shows how social media is increasingly important when it comes to interacting with potential travellers.