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Air New Zealand's mockumentary sheds light on plane spotting trend

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  • November 3, 2017
  • StopPress Team
Air New Zealand's mockumentary sheds light on plane spotting trend

Have you met New Zealand's most passionate plane spotters Terry and Christine? With over 600,000 views, the clip of the pair explaining their 'sport' has made it to the top five trending on New Zealand YouTube.  

But what first appears to be a documentary shared on "'Terry 'The plane spotter' Devit's" YouTube account is actually a campaign for Air New Zealand by FCB.

“Hi, I'm Terry, Vice President, NZ Plane Spotters Association. I set up this page to share my sport with fellow Kiwis and other aviation enthusiasts. Grab your spotter scopes NZ!” reads the YouTube bio to mask any hint of a campaign.

The video follows Terry and Christine as they are out plane spotting, however, alongside their enthusiasm there is also a hint of frustration about how quiet the skies are.

“You have to really love the sport at the moment to practice it around here, especially since our orange friends have reduced the flights,” he says.

The video comes after Jetstar’s decision to cut several of its early morning regional flights back in August and FCB’s executive creative director, Tony Clewett, says it felt it couldn’t let the moment pass without having a cheeky dig.

“Less flights to the regions affects lots of people, but none more so than those that rely on incoming and outgoing flights for their sport.”

In August last year, Jetstar was operating 122 return flights a week on the regional routes, and that was cut to 104 in July of this year in a new regional schedule. Those 104 flights were reported to increase to between 107 and 114 with a new schedule, which would potentially 15 less than its original 122 return flights.

When Jetstar announced its regional destinations in 2015 it had a big impact on Air New Zealand, which until then had the monopoly on flights to the regions. Its shares plunged by close to 10 percent on the morning of the announcement.

After pointing out he has fewer planes to spot, Terry goes on to explain that the orange friends always added “a bit of mystery” to the sport as you never quite knew when you were going to see them—another potential jab about Jetstar’s reputation for delaying and cancelling flights.

Meanwhile, Air New Zealand’s “black beauties” get a shout out for filling the gap left by the orange friends, so much so that Terry and Christine are experiencing physical stress around their neck, a.k.a “Plane Spotters neck”.

The mention of the airline’s “black beauties” is the only Air New Zealand reference in the video and Clewett explains that it didn’t feel the need to overdo the branding.

“Just letting Terry and Christine speak from their hearts was enough to make the point,” he says.

The subtlety of Air New Zealand’s involvement in the campaign has been carried through into the YouTube comment section. One commenter explained to all the “confused” viewers that it’s part of a documentary made in New Zealand about plane spotters, while Grabaseat praised Terry’s work and asked to share the video.

And in case you were wondering what Terry and Christine get up to when they aren’t at the airport, a second video has been shared showing their model-filled garage and flight simulator. Christine is loving her trip to Sydney.

When asked if there would be any more to come from Terry and Christine, Clewett says FCB shot a lot of footage during its time with the pair "so you never know".

He did, however, say that if you pay a visit to Terry and Christine’s house, they will play the clip for you on the telly.

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