TBWA\ stamps its fantastical mark on New Zealand with 100% Middle-earth

The 100% Pure New Zealand campaign is now in its 13th year, is held up as a master-class in tourism marketing and has helped turn New Zealand into one of the strongest country brands in the world. And Tourism New Zealand is aiming to replicate the international influx of visitors following The Lord of the Rings trilogy with the release of a new global campaign by the Sydney and Auckland offices of Whybin\TBWA and Curious Film that “invokes the magic of Middle-earth”. 

The ‘yes, it’s actually a real place’ approach certainly worked last time when The Lord of the Rings films brought the punters streaming in. This time, however, the connection between The Hobbit and New Zealand has been made more explicit by the powers that be. And, in a slight shift away from its recent reliance on digital to get ‘active considerers’ from other markets across the line, it’s taken to TV to showcase some of the country’s wonders. 


And here’s the extended version:


“Millions of people have seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy and we expect millions more to watch The Hobbit trilogy …,” says chief executive Kevin Bowler. “Our objective is to show people that while New Zealand stars as the fantasy world of Middle-earth, what people see in the cinema is actually a real place just waiting to be explored. Not only that but you can have some amazing adventures and experiences within movie-like landscapes.”

Narrated by acclaimed actor Sir Ian Holm and featuring music by Dave Whitehead, who was a sound editor for The Lord of the Rings trilogy and is sound designer for The Hobbit, the brand film gives potential visitors to New Zealand a flavour of what they might expect when they get here. 

“We wanted to blend storytelling techniques used in the cinema with real stories of New Zealand, to get across to audiences the world over that New Zealand is a magical place where the lines between real life and fantasy blur,” says Andy Blood, TBWA’s executive creative director. “This led us to 100% Middle-earth is 100% Pure New Zealand—a parallel universe, which to all intents and purposes is real.”

“This was definitely a challenging brief because the end result needed to deliver a tourism message that leveraged the movies but was not about promoting the movies,” says Justin Watson, Tourism New Zealand general manager marketing communications. ”The team at Whybin\TBWA [which won the account in November] rose to the challenge and have developed a strong and compelling idea around Middle-earth and an execution that makes you proud to be a New Zealander.” 

The campaign launched on newzealand.com on 23 August and will appear across TV, cinema and digital in Australia from 26 August, followed by the Western and Eastern markets in September and October respectively, along with digital media, social media and public relations campaigns. 

The campaign will direct people to newzealand.com where they will be able to interact with scenes depicted in the brand film and then link directly to travel providers and offers so they can click the book now button. 

Air New Zealand, which has labelled itself the official airline of Middle-earth and is in the process of filming a new hairy-footed safety video, will also screen the advert on Air New Zealand domestic jet flights from 24 August.

“We are working closely with our partners Warner Bros. Pictures, Wingnut Films and Air New Zealand to maximize all the tourism opportunities available,” he says. 


Executive Creative Director – Andy Blood

Executive Creative Directors: Matty Burton & Dave Bowman (TBWA Sydney)

Creative Director: Craig Farndale

Digital Creative Director: Ross Howard

Copy Writers: Ryan Price, Lucy Morgan, Andy Blood, Tammy Keegan

Art Director: Cece Chu, Craig Brooks, Andy Blood

Designer: Chris Lewis

Head of Strategy – Hristos Varouhas (TBWA Sydney)

Senior Planner: Julie McIver

Agency Producer: Jackie Clark

Group Head: Natasja Barclay

Account Director: Mandy Eckford

Senior Account Manager: Julia McKee

Account Executive: Lynlee Smith

TBWA\Digital Arts Network for newzealand.com website:

Creative Director: Mark Zeman

Account Director: Stephanie Creasy

Project Manager: Louise Leitch

Senior Designer: Jonathan Mead

Production Specialist: Andrew Zen

Production Specialist: Nigel McHardy

Developer: Sam Kwan

Developer: Patrick Li 

Production Company – Curious

Director: Darryl Ward

Film Company Producer: Andy Mauger

Film Company Executive Producer: Matt Noonan

DOP’s: Lachlan Milne, Darryl Ward

Editor: Tim Mauger

Music Composer/Producer: Dave Whitehead, White Noise Ltd

Music Engineer/Producer: Mike Gibson, Munki Studios

Audio Post: Digital Post & Factory Studios

Audio Engineer: Clive Broughton

Re Recording Mixer Cinema Versions – Park Road Post – Mike Hedges

Colourist: Pete Richie, Toybox

Online: Nigel Mortimer, Curious

Stills Photography: Fraser Clements, Match Photography 

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