Wellington’s digital advent calendar returns to give a new view of the city and promote local business

As we start the lead up to Christmas with a daily chocolate treat, Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) has launched the seventh edition of the Wondrous Wellington Advent Calendar, counting down the days till Santa arrives with a 360-degree view of the city.

Like those of previous years, the digital advent calendar shows off some of the capital’s best attractions, and this year’s effort, again by Touchcast, follows the recent trend of 360-degree experiences. Visitors to Wellingtonadventcalendar.com will be able to immerse themselves in 24 different 360-degree photos of popular Wellington spots, with each one containing a door to a local deal.

Users can use accelerometers on their smartphones or a mouse on their computer to explore the location to find the day’s deal, ranging from coffee and food offers, to retail discounts, attraction experiences, and hotel stays. Users can then email the treat to themselves and use it before the end of January 2017, meaning those just visiting the city over the holidays can enjoy the deal during their stay.

Not only do users get a deal, the businesses involved get a boost in the traditionally quiet January period. Last year’s calendar was used by over 100,000 people and the vouchers redeemed generated more than $160,000 in direct revenue for the 24 businesses involved.

WREDA’s general manager of destination and marketing Adele Fitzpatrick says the campaign returns annually because it creates so much buzz in the capital.

“The Wondrous Wellington Advent Calendar is the perfect way to bring some festive cheer to the capital, and is so eagerly anticipated by our locals, visitors and businesses. The calendar is one of our biggest campaigns, and we’re sure it will continue to grow this year.”

For Touchcast creative director Mark Genn, the return of the calendar provided an opportunity to take it to the next level.

“It was a great opportunity to seamlessly combine 360-degree photography and smartphone accelerometers to take the calendar in a completely new direction and bring some amazing locations in the city to life for an international audience.”

The images are the work of Wellington photographers Mark Gee of The Art of Night (days 6,8,17 and 18) and Jeff McEwan of Capture Studios (days 1-5, 7-16 and 19-24). McEwan says each image took between five and 15 hours to edit, but was well worth the effort for the immersive result.

Last year, it was Tim Gibson’s illustrations that were used to depict the city’s main icons, and although the images were still, there was an interactive element with users able change the scene from day to night with the flick of a switch.

While the digital advent calendar has become somewhat of a Christmas tradition for the city, last year it teamed up with Phantom Billstickers to amp that excitement by taking the advent calendar onto the streets.

A series of poster billboards with small cupboards in the middle were placed around the city, offering chocolate bars from the Wellington Chocolate Factory. It proved so popular, the cupboards were refilled up to four times a day and people would be waiting for them to be unlocked each morning.

The chocolate bars were wrapped in paper featuring the illustrations in the digital calendar.

This year, another five collectable chocolate bars have been created, with the wrappers featuring Gee and McEwan’s photographs. They will be given away on Absolutely Positively Wellington and other WREDA channels, with a limited number available from Wellington Chocolate Factory’s shop in Hannahs Laneway.

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