Our Creative Platform for Air New Zealand came, in part, from speaking to a lot of native New Zealanders. One Kiwi’s account of the isolated country struck a chord with us (and I’m afraid I’m paraphrasing here).
KIWIS SIT ON THE EDGE OF THE GLOBE WATCHING THE WORLD GO BY, LOOKING AT THE STATUS QUO AND THINKING “THIS COULD BE DONE BETTER”.
This inspired a new way of thinking about the brand and their approach. There’s always a better way. Does everyone think like that, or…
IS IT JUST A KIWI THING?
The line began as a tag on our first brand campaign for the airline and slowly became the philosophy for the entire company. The initial goal was to differentiate them from all the other same-y options travelers had at the time. And injected a kind of fresh thinking that consumers weren’t used to back in 2007. Why wouldn’t they stop at other destinations on the way to New Zealand? Why wouldn’t you want to watch the entertainment as soon as you get on? Why wouldn’t beds in the sky be as big as beds at home? Why wouldn’t Premium Economy offer premium food? All shot on their real planes with their real staff.
The first campaign was a huge success and put Air New Zealand on the map in the UK. They were no longer just a national carrier but the preferred airline between London and Los Angeles. For our second brand campaign, in 2009, we dug deeper into what was clearly their most celebrated differentiator. Their staff. It all clicked when we discovered this post-flight tweet from a passenger.
Personality Allowed became our second successful campaign for the airline. For our London-based OOH campaign, we opted for a digital-only buy to really let the personalities shine. We were early adopters of the growing digital poster format. The first to use video in them instead of animation. Needless to say, we caught a lot of attention.
Online, we mashed up video with google maps in rich media banners to create a sort of proto-Yelp recommendation engine. Users could asks questions about the flight or the destination and get a personal response from the staff.
As it turned out, the “Is it just a Kiwi thing?” philosophy had permeated the company deeper than we would have ever imagined. Unhappy with any new aircraft interiors that Boeing had to offer, Air New Zealand put together a team of user experience architects and industrial designers to, instead, make their own. This wasn’t just an aesthetic upgrade. They introduced new style seats, on-demand food and the perfect inflight bed. This was a company dedicated to entirely rethinking how we fly.
When it came to launching the new planes, we built on the equity of the last two campaigns. We had a lot more to say but we said it in exactly the same way. With personality. Print and static and digital posters introduced the new features.
Online, we messed with formats to encourage consumers’ reassessment of air travel. Flight attendants reached out of banners, became video game characters, helped passengers figure out if they would rather fly “inny” or “outy” and grabbed all kinds of attention as they introduced the new features. We picked up a couple of Webby wins for this work.
Around the same time, Air New Zealand had been having trouble launching the same product in the States. So I moved to LA and opened our first US office. From this new base, we set about figuring out how to introduce the “Is it just a Kiwi thing?” attitude to American travelers. They didn’t have the same kind of exposure to the New Zealand character and way of thinking over here. And the company hadn’t built the same kind of equity we were able to in the UK, opting instead to represent themselves as just the national carrier.
It was during the time of a big uptick in comedy videos being shared online. Platforms like Funny Or Die were having a lot of success with US audiences, so we decided to use humor as our trojan horse to sharing these great, innovative ideas. The Skycouch, the most innovative of all, would be our lead message. People could finally have a bed in economy. Two people together. Great for couples. Or conjoined sheep twins. “Is it just a Kiwi thing?” wouldn’t work for the US audience but the thinking behind it certainly would. Meet Mason and Jason.
Now that we had gotten America’s attention, it was time to talk globally about the rest of the new plane. Our next campaign introduced the entirely redesigned Premium Economy class to the world, where you could choose to be an “Outy” and fly by yourself or an”Inny” and fly with a friend. In rich banners, we created ‘Seatview’, an expandable 360° video so you could see how great the seats are for yourself.
By this point, we were bringing Air New Zealand’s particular way of thinking to campaigns around the world. From the UK, through major markets in Europe and Asia, to its homeland of NZ and to all over the US and Canada.
Before moving agencies, the last project I worked on with Air New Zealand was an entire global rebrand. We had to make sure that the equity we had created around the world stayed consistent and strong. That the brand would always put personality first. And that the “Is it just a Kiwi thing?” thinking would never be lost.