We asked some stalwarts a simple question. Here’s what Mike Tod, chief marketing and customer officer at Air New Zealand, had to say.
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Air New Zealand became the official airline of Middle-earth a few months ago as part of a marketing deal struck up between Tourism New Zealand, New Line, MGM and Warner Bros. And, after plenty of teasing, including a countdown clock on its Flying Social Network site, it's released a classy new Hobbit-themed safety video.
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Just as Braniff airways shook up the fairly dull US airline sector in the ’60s by painting its planes bright colours and putting its hostesses in bright uniforms, Air New Zealand changed the way everyone looked at inflight safety videos by making them entertaining and, with its previous agency .99, it basically created a whole new—and quite powerful—media channel. So far we’ve seen painted bodies, All Blacks, lycra-clad, OTT aerobics instructors and puerile puppets. And for the first time the airline has decided to take an animated approach, with a new ’hand-drawn’ safety video featuring the voice talent of Kiwi-born actress Melanie Lynskey and Modern Family’s Ed O’Neill, as well as a range of “cameo appearances”.
In what will be a big blow to incumbent agency .99, Air New Zealand has chosen DrafFCB to be its lead agency after a competitive pitch, starting in March. But there is still some mystery surrounding the set-up of the account because Saatchi & Saatchi, which a few industry big mouths had thought was looking good to take the win, has also been included on the airline's agency roster.
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.
That little man with the frizzy brown hair, squeaky voice and bright-coloured lycra might have agitated some, but he’s been part of a marketing recipe for success that has earned Air New Zealand a prestigious global win at the 10th annual Airline Strategy Awards held in London.
Air New Zealand's suave yet moderately offensive travelling mascot Rico has already laid down some beats with a couple of Wellingtonian musos. But he's taken his music career up a few notches recently after recording his debut track 'Hello Sunshine' in Los Angeles. And it features a pretty special guest who's also earned a reputation as something of a ladies man: Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. AKA Tha Doggfather AKA Snoop Dogg.