Middle-earth in mid-air

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. 


Clocking in at four and a half minutes, it’s a tad longer than its usual sketches, and a great deal better than its last groaner featuring Melanie Lynskey and Ed O’Neill. And, in keeping with Sir Peter’s penchant for cameos, he makes an entertaining (dis)appearance in this one. 

Part homage, part piss-take (check out the flowing manes and longing gazes), there are plenty of nuggets in here to keep passengers entertained. And while there are no old nude grannies this time (although Gollum could possibly classify as an old nude), keep an oversized ear out for the now almost obligatory dose of Air New Zealand sexual innuendo. 

In addition to the safety video, the airline, which was recently voted the best in Australasia at the World Travel Awards for the fourth year running, is also running a promotion to unlock the Elvish code, with trips to the premiere in Wellington being offered to the winners. 

Speaking of Air New Zealand, after aligning itself with DraftFCB in New Zealand earlier this year, it recently announced the appointment of DraftFCB San Francisco as its North American creative agency following a multi-agency pitch. It takes over from Albion and the agency’s remit will focus on driving brand awareness and online conversion in the United States and Canada.

Here’s the release: 

Hobbits, Dwarves and Wizards will take flight as Air New Zealand launches its latest on board safety video, ‘An Unexpected Briefing,’ today.

The safety video is inspired by the upcoming fantasy adventure The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), which is the first in a trilogy of films from director and Kiwi Sir Peter Jackson.  The video has been created in conjunction with the Academy Award-winning Weta Workshop (The Lord of the Rings films) and features appearances from Jackson, as well as the unforgettable character, Gollum, and descendants of J.R.R Tolkien, author of the timeless masterpiece The Hobbit on which the trilogy is based.

The safety video, which will be rolled out across Air New Zealand aircraft from today, can be viewed atyoutube.com/airnewzealand and images from it are available for download at airnzhobbitmedia.com

Customers who pay close attention to the safety video could win a once-in-a-lifetime Middle-earth experience in New Zealand.  Hidden within the video are secret Elvish codes.  Viewers who spot the codes can then visit airnzcode.com/hobbitmovie to unlock the door to Bag End and be in to win a trip for two to New Zealand, including a tour of the Hobbiton movie set, a visit to the Weta Cave in Wellington, and double passes to the red carpet global premiere ofThe Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Air New Zealand General Manager Marketing and Communications Mike Tod says ‘An Unexpected Briefing’ is a further reflection of the world class creative talents of New Zealanders.

“This latest safety video inspired by The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is another example of how New Zealand is a hotbed for creative talent.  Our partners at Weta Workshop and Weta Digital, which brought Gollum to life inside the aircraft, have helped us demonstrate again that if you want to engage with audiences in a unique way, our nation has immense creative capability,” Mr Tod says.

“Sir Peter Jackson and the team at Warner Bros. Pictures in the United States were fantastically supportive during production of the video.  To have Gollum step off the movie screen for the first time and into an Air New Zealand aircraft is incredibly special and Sir Peter Jackson delivers a superb cameo.  He should come out from behind the camera more often!”

Two great grandsons of The Hobbit author J.R.R Tolkien, Mike and Royd Tolkien, also make a cameo appearance in the safety video.

Royd Tolkien, who features in the video with prosthetic hairy Hobbit feet, says the opportunity to be part of Air New Zealand’s association with The Hobbit movies was too good to miss. “They’ve done a great job of capturing the essence of The Hobbit films and it was a privilege to be invited to participate.”

Kiwi Dean O’Gorman, who plays the Dwarf Fili in the movie, can be spotted amongst the passengers in the safety video, along with two super-Hobbitfans from TheOneRing.net – the web’s largest Tolkien fan site.

Mr Tod says the release of ‘An Unexpected Briefing’ marks the official start of Air New Zealand’s two-year global marketing programme dedicated to The Hobbit Trilogy.

“We will invest several million dollars in Australia, Asia, the United States and Europe on uniquely Air New Zealand marketing efforts related to The Hobbit movies to attract more tourists to New Zealand.  We are also working extremely closely with Tourism New Zealand on a range of initiatives, including supporting bringing several hundred journalists to experience Middle-earth,” he says.

A forthcoming feature of Air New Zealand’s support of The Hobbit Trilogy will be a themed aircraft which will be revealed prior to the movie’s global premiere in Wellington on November 28.

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