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Tourism New Zealand tackles competitive tourism market by not showcasing its sights

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By Danielle Long | Asia Pacific Correspondent

September 30, 2022 | 8 min read

Tourism New Zealand hopes to stand out in the flood of post-covid tourism marketing activity by teasing audiences with glimpses of the country in its "unusual" new global campaign.

TNZ If You Seek

Tourism New Zealand's If You Seek campaign

The If You Seek campaign, launched in August, is the first to roll out since the country reopened its borders on 31 July. Unlike the traditional destination marketing campaign, the creative focuses on the perspective and experience of the traveller rather than showcasing the sights. Audiences don't get to see much of New Zealand's iconic and breathtaking sights and experiences. Instead they see a glimpse of people experiencing a beautiful sunrise on a mountain or an exhilarating jet-boat ride. The idea is to tease consumers and entice them to see for themselves.

It's an unusual approach, but it's part of a particular strategy, according to Tourism New Zealand's Director, Marketing Brodie Reid.

Reid told The Drum the tourism organisation is focused on a specific type of traveller and has employed a unique creative approach and media plan to target by mindset rather than demographic.

"It's an extremely competitive environment out there," says Reid. "There's two years of pent-up desire from the global traveller, and a whole lot of DMOs (Destination Marketing Organisations) around the world trying to vie for those travellers to come to their destination. It's certainly a big task for us."

Rather than throw another predictable advert into the mix, Tourism New Zealand narrowed in on its target audience – who they call "a high-quality visitor".

"These are people that want to immerse themselves into the culture; they want to interact with our people, travel responsibly around New Zealand, and respect their environment. They are the type of people that seek long-term personal growth through their travels and are looking for really enriching travel experiences, which we believe we have an abundance of here in New Zealand.

"We're really trying to go after a specific mindset or a specific type of person that's looking for a destination like New Zealand, and the campaign and the execution of the campaign is really reflective of that audience and of their mind set as well," said Reid.

To add to the complexity, the campaign is also targeting New Zealanders, as TNZ is now tasked with domestic marketing and encouraging kiwis to holiday at home and explore their homeland.

Pre-covid Tourism New Zealand's most significant markets were Australia, the USA and China, which accounted for 60% of international visitors and subsequently attracted the lion's share of marketing spend. Now, it's a different story as TNZ looks to the UK, Germany, Japan, Singapore, India, and Korea, in addition to Australia, China, the USA and New Zealand. It's a challenging brief.

"We've still got a broad range of markets within our portfolio, and this campaign is going out to all those markets.

It is our first fully global campaign and the first time we've ever spoken to and used the same creative platform across domestic and international markets. And we felt confident to do that because we were seeing a real crossover between this insight around this mindset of this type of traveller, who does really seek that sense of personal growth through their travel experiences. So, we felt confident that we can target both international and domestic audiences at the same time with our If You Seek campaign."

It begs the question; how do you target based on mindset?

"Yeah, it's interesting because from a demographic perspective, [this mindset] stretches across age groups and around the world. As we started cutting our audiences by mindset rather than by demographics, that's when it started to get interesting for us because we started to realise that we didn't have to go after a specific market or a specific age group to get across our message.

"It freed us up quite a bit and allowed us to test and experiment a little more in our creative executions. From an execution perspective, this is quite different to what we've done before. We're just giving people a little taster of what it might be like to stand in the shoes of the visitor, and we're leaving quite a bit to the imagination. We're leaving a little bit of the experience at the end as a reward to pique their interest.

"We've done that off the basis of some pretty robust research and knowledge that this audience is going to buy into that, and they are going to lean in and want to find out more because they have this innate love for New Zealand and what it has to offer already."

The challenge for TNZ is seeking out this specific mindset around the globe, intriguing and enticing them with the creative and pushing them through the purchase funnel. All on a tiny marketing budget. Reid says spend, and activity vary dramatically from market to market. In Australia and New Zealand, the media buying is pretty traditional with TV, out-of-home, digital and social media. In contrast, other markets, such as China, are almost entirely (90%) social media.

The role of social media was also a key element in creating the creative campaign, says Reid.

"The intention behind the creative is to grab attention and pique our audience's interest. We want our audience to be left wanting more, one of the key insights that we based this whole campaign on was the more you give to New Zealand, the more New Zealand gives to you. We give a little something to you, and you give a little something to us by pushing your way through the funnel. So, we've tried to kind of really bring that through, right, from strategic insight through to execution and media buying.

"The overarching objectives at a global level are to grow global top box preference, while domestically, we're looking to increase intent to travel. And then over and above that, obviously making sure that New Zealanders support the return of tourism as well," says Reid.

It's early days for the campaign; however, TNZ claims it is already seeing positive sentiment, with the campaign receiving more than 13 million video views, around 123,000 website visits and 96% positive social media sentiment.

The actual proof of success will be getting visitors on the ground as the country looks to restore tourism to the pre-covid levels when it was New Zealand's largest export industry and responsible for delivering $40.9 billion to the country. This will certainly be one to watch.

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