After five years touring the globe, the Giant Rugby Ball – New Zealand’s most successful experiential marketing installation – has finished its world trip on a high note at home on Auckland’s waterfront.
The Giant Rugby Ball was one of the most high profile experiential marketing initiative to hit New Zealand shores. In just six weeks, the Ball hosted over 90,000 visitors at its Queen’s Wharf location, adding to another 70,000 visitors at sites in Paris, London, Tokyo and Sydney.
As well as those that visited, it generated a fair bit of attention from foreign media. Over 138 million people in France alone were reached through media coverage, while more than 40,000 people have headed online and viewed YouTube videos featuring the Ball.
Originally, the ball was planned as a place to hold functions, collect email addresses for Tourism New Zealand and promote the country before the RWC. But the French authorities said it needed to be something more than that if it was to take up a prime spot under the Eiffel Tower. As such, Inside Out Productions gave visitors a view of New Zealand through an audio-visual voyage of the country’s landscapes, culture, adventure activities and export opportunities.
The ball, which was free to the public during the day, also acted as a hospitality venue in the evening. The screen-based technology provided a successful platform on which to adapt content to suit a variety of audiences. Everything from New Zealand vineyards to wind farms on local paddocks were projected around the Ball at bespoke corporate and industry events.
Mike Mizrahi, director of Inside Out Productions, believes that while experiential marketing is not new, it is under-utilised in New Zealand and integrating social media into experiential initiatives is the key to building bigger and better campaigns.
“Visitor feedback has been phenomenal, with Kiwis all around the world embracing the Giant Rugby Ball. We’ve even had people queuing for up to two hours just to get a glimpse inside,” Mizrahi says. “Knowing how successful the Giant Rugby Ball has been, the industry is now challenged to take what we’ve learned and develop future campaigns that resonate even more powerfully with audiences.
“We must now focus on identifying what brands people are talking about online and where this is happening – be it on Facebook, Twitter or blogs – and develop tailored, engaging experiences in the offline world for them to interact with as well. Well executed experiential marketing offers heart-warming experiences which engage individuals in a way that connects with their emotions – the Giant Rugby Ball has moved visitors to tears all around the world,” says Mizrahi.
Mizrahi doesn’t know whether there will be a replacement. All he knows is that it will soon be up for sale. So if you’re in the market for a giant rugby ball, keep an eye out on TradeMe.
“People like coming together to experience things. And the ball affects people quite profoundly. The beauty of this is that it is marketing, but you don’t feel like you’ve been sold anything … It’s a little bit sad,” he says. “It’s been a wonderful journey. And it’s such a great piece of guerrilla marketing. It’s going to be pretty hard to top.”