Three hard-luck stories are turned into tales of kava, coconuts and kinship by Fiji Airways in its new ad campaign.
The campaign uses real people, plucked from rural New Zealand, a Fiji beach, and a suburb in Sydney, and taken on holiday by Fiji Airways.
In September the company ran a campaign for a people to nominate themselves, or “a truly deserving person,” for a life changing getaway.
The three selected winners each feature in beautifully shot, three-minute advertisements for the airline.
New Zealand’s example is the McConnell family, hardworking dairy farmers from Hamilton who milk 850 cows, twice a day, 365 days per year.
Sombre music plays as we hear how dad Nick McConnell often can’t make it to the family meals, and how he feels guilty when the kids are working and not getting to hang out with their mates.
There are flashbacks via photos of the McConnells in their younger days, and of mum Janice scrubbing hard at some waterproofs, with the voiceover: “Life on the dairy farm is really hard…a lot of the time Nick isn’t with us for family meals, so we’re really looking forward to this trip”.
Shots move to packing and then to boarding the plane as the pace of the piano picks up and a heavenly choir begins a low chorus that accompanies the family on their Fiji Airways journey across the seas.
As the McConnells disbar from the flight a banjo starts to strum and the sun, sea and smiles of Fiji come in to full colour.
“It took us an experience in another country to share a meal together, which is so special,” Janice McConnell says.
Part of me wonders what it was like for the family having a camera crew watch them share this special meal together, but the production team has obviously done a remarkably good job of making the McConnells feel at ease.
Fiji Airways managing director and chief executive Stefan Pichler says the crew always made sure the family was comfortable during the shoot.
“The McConnell’s story was a heartfelt one and it was easy for us to capture the spirit of their family experience.
“The crew made sure that they were as discreet as possible when filming so that the family were comfortable and able to enjoy their Fiji experience in a natural environment.
As the McConnells are early risers, the crew were up before the birds to begin their work.
“Working life on the dairy farm starts at 3am and we were there filming as Nick and his sons went about the poetry of everyday life on the farm,” Pichler says.
Other winners of the campaign include a “once tight-knit family from the suburbs of Sydney who are given the opportunity to reunite after losing their mother and splitting into different homes”.
The Fiji-outbound story is of Elenoa, a Fijian widow from Laucala who boarded a plane for the first time, venturing to New Zealand to unite with family she hadn’t seen for years.
It’s hard not to get warm fuzzies.
The integrated campaign ‘Welcome to Our Home’ is one aspect of a new brand position for Fiji Airways designed to showcase Fijian warmth and hospitality.
The airline rebranded in 2012 from Air Pacific to Fiji Airways to reinforce its role as the national airline for Fiji, and Pichler says the new branding follows their successful relaunch.
“We have revamped our marketing approach and have now included more of Fiji’s people in the way we market our company and the country overseas.
“As the national carrier, we want to show off what makes Fiji so special and unique as an experience. This brand position resonates well with the Fijian people because they live this experience every day.”
The principal marketing challenge for the airline is standing out in against big competitors, Pichler says.
“Fiji Airways has existed for over 62 years and is well recognised by its peers and consumers however Fiji as a destination faces competition from short haul markets (Australia and New Zealand) and a variety of airlines with potentially larger advertising budgets.
“This means it is always a challenge competing for share of voice, in advertising media, and top of mind awareness in relation to the competitive set.
The airline aims to become a leading boutique airline with a unique, personal touch, he says.
“This latest marketing push demonstrates these attributes and is designed to connect, meaningfully, with our audience and by doing that gain greater exposure and reach through the sharing and earned media that comes with successful emotional connection.”