TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015: Westpac flies sky-high with Airpoints

The challenge

With more than 1.8 million members, the Air New Zealand Airpoints programme is often referenced as one of the most successful loyalty initiatives in the country. And according to Air New Zealand’s general manager of loyalty Hamish Rumbold, 20 percent of all credit card spend in New Zealand is on Airpoints earning credit cards. 

So, earlier this year, when Air New Zealand opened the door to a new Airpoints partner, Westpac jumped at the opportunity because a decision like this was expected to move 5-10 percent of market share in just a few months. 

Until this point, BNZ had been a partner of Airpoints for 17 years. But with the current three-year contract up for renewal, Air New Zealand and BNZ openly discussed Air New Zealand seeking interest from other parties—and this is where Westpac came in. In early January, it put forward a proposal to take over the Airpoints partnership. Air New Zealand liked what it saw and signed a ten-year deal, ending its long-running partnership with BNZ. 

And while this was great news for Westpac, it also created a high-pressure situation in that the bank only had ten weeks in which to get its proposition into the market in mid-March. A task of this magnitude would normally take around 12 months.

The Response

Undeterred, Westpac and Air New Zealand proceeded to launch the new product and make Kiwis across the nation aware of their partnership. 

Westpac initially launched four new cards and a mortgage product, all earning Airpoints Dollars. Customers could order these immediately and were able to accumulate triple Airpoints Dollars for the first three months. 

Westpac also saw an opportunity in targeting BNZ’s GlobalPlus customer base, which could no longer accumulate Airpoints. 

The focus of phase two was to drive urgency through offers, ensuring as many people as possible were signed up before May 1 (the date GlobalPlus would no longer earn Airpoints). And given that Air New Zealand also had an interest in keeping customers in the programme, it lent significant support to Westpac’s marketing efforts. 

The airline launched a mass campaign highlighting the benefit of Airpoints and numerous direct communications to its AirPoints base, explaining the change in partnership and drawing attention to other Airpoints-accruing credit cards from Kiwibank, ANZ and American Express. 

As May rolled in, Air New Zealand used its massive database to send targeted email marketing to GlobalPlus customers with the aim of encouraging them to sign up for a different credit card. 

Those interested in a Westpac card were directed to a portal, where customers could get pre-approval for a card within 60 seconds. 

The simplicity of this online process suggested to consumers that switching banks isn’t as onerous as they might think it is, and this encouraged many to take the step. 

In addition to these marketing activities, eDMs were sent to all Airpoints members and non-card holders, and a physical direct mailer was distributed to over 100,000 current Airpoints members, giving them additional information on why it might be worth switching to a different card. 

Programmatic advertising, outbound calling from Air New Zealand and 15,000 bottles of wine sent to high value customers were also thrown into the marketing mix to ensure that the message reached as many people as possible. 

And Air New Zealand also threw more of its weight behind the marketing efforts by extending a range of lucrative targeted offers to GlobalPlus credit card holders if they switched. Base and Silver status Airpoints members could get a flight upgrade; Gold status members could move to Elite; and Elite status members were offered an automatic upgrade to Banked Elite Year (which usually requires an Elite member to accumulate 2,4000 status points in a year). 

As a final touch to this multi-channel marketing campaign, Westpac also ran above-the-line executions and facilitated 4,000 face-to-face conversations at the Air New Zealand lounges in Auckland and Christchurch.

The results

The launch was a major success. Within one week of launching 89 percent of Kiwis—and 97 percent of GlobalPlus cardholders—were aware of Westpac now being part of Air New Zealand’s Airpoints
programme and tens of thousands of customers signed on, 44 percent of them new to bank customers. 

The bank is currently on track to meet a series of ambitious targets and customers keep joining. And given the Air New Zealand loyalty programme is a constantly evolving initiative, Westpac is already looking for ways to innovate and introduce new offers that will further increase its client base in what is a multi-billion dollar category.


Financial & Banking



Judge’s comment

“Capitalising on this strategic partnership opportunity between two large organisations required shared intent, incredible cohesion and a surgical go to market execution in an unprecedented short timeframe.”

Marketing partners

DDB, Starcom, Rapp


ANZ (Time Is Money); Countdown/Cigna (Countdown Insurance); Kiwibank (Independence Launch); Westpac New Zealand (Westpac One); WooHoo NZ Tax Refunds (Mobile App Launch And Confirmation/Retention Campaign)

  • To read about all the other winners, visit the TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards topic page here
  • This story originally appeared in the September/October issue of NZ Marketing magazine.

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