Government offers the open spaces, open hearts and open minds of New Zealand in new campaign

Fruit-picking robot arms, high-speed yachts and milk-sipping businessmen share the focus with hobbits, sweeping landscapes and outdoor relaxation in the New Zealand Story campaign, which was unveiled by Tourism New Zealand, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Education New Zealand on 6 November.

A collaborative creative effort between Designworks and Assignment Group has resulted in a multi-channelled promotional package that includes a toolkit, website and video.

When the project was first announced, there were quite a few eyebrows raised at the Government’s gall to award the contract for the first phase of the project to the Australia-based firm Principals.

Designers Institute of New Zealand chief executive Cathy Veninga called it an “offence to the studios from our own country” and industry long-timer Brian Richards told the Herald it was the equivalent of “asking an Englishman to brand Ireland and expect the locals to lie down and accept it.”

The industry hate did however simmer down when the creative reins were handed to the Kiwi-based offices of Designworks and Assignment Group. But they had their work cut out for them.   

Comparisons to the well-loved ‘100 percent pure’ campaign were inevitable, and it was thus said at the outset of the project that ‘New Zealand Story’ would not replace the previous campaign but rather serve as a complement to it. 

“New Zealand’s 100% Pure branding… has been a remarkable success and will continue to be at the heart of our international tourism brand,” said a release from the Beehive.

According to the Tourism New Zealand’s website, “The New Zealand Story is an initiative to help companies gain competitive advantage by building a strong, consistent profile for New Zealand in international markets.”

Given the emphasis on business, there was always a risk of the ‘New Zealand Story’ campaign taking an Auckland-centric approach, but this has been avoided.

While the video gives a nod to Auckland’s coffee culture and corporate success, it doesn’t pander to the Super City. Instead it starts in the rustic south, opening with the line “welcome to the country of open spaces, where nature bursts and flows”: a statement that doesn’t really relate to the inner-city pressures of Queen Street.  

There’s also a big ethical push that is given a two-fold introduction through the line “where we care for the land” and a segment on environmental education. In this sense, New Zealand is presented as a place where business does not have to impede on the wellbeing of the environment, an idea that is becoming increasingly appealing to modern companies.

Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce also applauded the new campaign, saying, “The New Zealand Story profiles our innovation, our warmth and friendliness, and our place in the world with the “Open places, open hearts and open minds” theme.”

In his Beehive release, Joyce placed emphasis on the importance of attracting foreign students to New Zealand for both economic and educational reasons. It is thus that the government has also launched the ‘New Zealand Education Story’ in conjunction with the broader ‘New Zealand Story’ campaign. 

The campaign also endeavours to provide reassurances. In one scene, a businessman is seen enjoying a glass of milk that a farmer has given to him. This seems to be a clear attempt to ameliorate some of the damage caused by the recent Fonterra debacle.  

The slick new website features an assets library that contains information, videos and photography that aims to advertise the major selling points of New Zealand. Given the high production value that has gone into the videos and the website, it comes as no surprise that the Government has already thrown $3 million at the project. In addition to this, they have also announced plans to invest a further $2,3 million in the project in the 2014/2015 budget.   

Tourism New Zealand has been contacted for further details on the production of the campaign, but they have still not responded to our requests. We have also contacted Designworks and Assignment Group for further information, but they are precluded from commenting without client approval.    

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