NZSki refreshes its branding after being left out in the cold

NZSki has unveiled three new campaign videos for each of its ski fields – The Remarkables, Mt Hutt, and Coronet Peak – as part of a wider strategy to give each mountain its own identity.

It’s the first NZSki brand campaign since 2002 after being left to freeze, and aims to re-establish its position as a manager of each of the three mountains. 

Formerly known as the Mount Cook Group, general manager of marketing at NZSki Mike Wilson – who previously worked as digital director at 99, and Vodafone as head of digital marketing – speaks of the brand’s origins.

“Since the mountain first opened people felt a sense of ownership, personas were created, friends debated and teased each other over what it meant to prefer Coronet Peak to The Remarkables and vice versa, nicknames were given, ‘Concrete Peak’ is a favourite amongst fans of The Remarkables. And of course every Cantabrian is fiercely proud and protective of Mt. Hutt. It’s ‘their’ mountain.” 

The brand was formerly owned by Air New Zealand, but in 2002 was sold as a joint venture with the three mountains under the umbrella of the NZSkiLtd/ NZSki.com brand, a move that Wilson says was a major turning point.

“NZSki was formed, and the brands were housed under this name and over time the sense of individual brands and identities became lost.”

Over the last eighteen months, Wilson and the team have lifted the hood of NZSkiLtd, and hope to re-establish the brand’s identity. 

“With three individual brands under one portfolio, it’s really hard to differentiate the brand image, so we took it upon ourselves to carve out three different identities internally,” says Wilson. 

 “We studied their history, anecdotes, geography, trails, reputations, individual characteristics and perceptions. We distilled these into highly emotive brand positions for each mountain.”

The resulting three videos – The Remarkables ‘Find your Freedom’, Coronet Peak ‘The Home of Night Ski’, and Mt Hutt’s ‘Your Mountain is Calling’ – have each mountain connecting to an over-arching theme based on its individual characteristics. Each video is aligned to the new brand direction and was aided by Kelly Lovelock (ex-lead senior creative at FCB and now employee at True) who acted as the sole creative on the campaign.  

The Remarkables spot,  ‘Finding your Freedom’, showcases the mountains quintessential chutes, off-piste mountain terrain, and the ability of skiers to venture off the beaten track. To embody the sense of freedom attached to the mountain, the video is fronted by snow stalwart, Michel LePage who, according to Wilson, has been running head of the patrol for four years, and has been at The Remarkables as an iconic figure for 14 years.

The second video at the Mt Hutt ski field named ‘Your Mountain is Calling’, targets Cantabrians to leave the warmth of their bed and make the mission up to their local mountain. Wilson enforces that the talent featured were local Mt Hutt customers and staff.

The last video, Coronet Peak, ‘The Home of Night Ski’, infuses the mountain’s origins as the first commercial ski field in Queenstown (opened in 1947) and is a representative of the good times, and unique offerings of being able to ski during the late hours of the night.

Wilson says the videos are part of a long branding journey alongside websites which will go live during this season alongside other collateral that is helping to drive the visual design elements of the campaign.

When asked about the elephant in the room and rival mountain Cardrona, which has gained a big chunk of the family market through savvy marketing, Wilson says “he doesn’t even want to go there, and adds that they should be viewed as their brother”. He says the real competition is Aucklanders who travel overseas instead of utilising their own backyard.

From a sales and results point of view, the new brand direction has already come into effect, with its first 2018 campaign showcasing a rise in sales. According to Wilson, the total number of three Peak Season Passes sold increased by 14 percent, and the total number of Mt. Hutt Season Passes sold increased by 10 percent.

Additionally, its video content has also been well received and to date the campaign has had over 933,000 views on Youtube and Facebook, according to Wilson.

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