Marketing & Brand Strategy | Questionable marketing | Trans Tasman

Is the new NZ Story relevant to business Australia?


First published in Fairfax NZ Business on 25 November 2013 

The 100% Pure New Zealand brand has been a powerful one, executed beautifully ever since it first launched in 1999. In the early years of the campaign, Tourism Australia had plenty to be envious of.

Some nitpickers may say a little of the credit behind Pure NZ belongs to Australia. The soundtracks, after all, were by two Aussie band – Youth Group and Crowded House, which the Aussies also claim as their own (controversial, I know).

And now, Australia has reason to gloat again. The New Zealand Story, a campaign that Tourism New Zealand launched on November 6, was a concept created by Australian agency Principals.

Whichever way you look at it, Australia and New Zealand are inextricably linked. Which makes this latest campaign a little confusing for us here in Australia. In it there’s affirmation of Australia’s importance, but also a clear dissociation.

On one hand the supporting documents clearly demonstrate that Australia is New Zealand’s most valuable trading partner, accounting for $11.8 billion in imports and $13.7b in exports. It is also the top investor in New Zealand at a whopping $54.6b, followed not so closely by the US at $10.9b. But on the other hand, the campaign makes it clear that if you had to choose between Australia and New Zealand (which let’s be honest, happens a lot) New Zealand is a far better choice than big glamorous brother over yonder.

I don’t think this campaign has a lot of relevance to companies entering the Australian market. Other international markets such as Asia, yes. Australia not so much.

In fact there are some quite amusing (truthful?) elements that Australians may not like hearing at all. Such as the Warmth Rating Towards Asian Countries. If you’re a Kiwi company using the NZ Story slides when presenting to your Australian compadres, you should seriously consider taking that one out.

This is the first time I’ve heard of this index, and let’s just say according to research New Zealanders are warmer towards the Chinese, Japanese, Indian and South Korean nations than the Aussies. In some cases up to 10 per cent warmer (hello China).

Open Space, Open Hearts, Open Minds has beautiful imagery and – as always – showcases New Zealand’s commitment to brand and early adoption of new communication tools. But it does feel like a call to international students, tourists and future migrants rather than investors or businesses.

I found the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s NZ Inc work far more informative from a business perspective than the NZ Story. I highly recommend NZ Inc Australia Strategy as a very good read, especially Managing Director of Citywide, Kerry Osborne’s tips.

New Zealand has some incredible companies in the fields of manufacturing, technology, science and agriculture. We may be selling them short by suggesting they got that way by being either pure or having open spaces, open hearts and open minds. Perhaps the answer is to totally separate tourism and business. After all, the mindset we travel with when we’re tourists versus when we’re in business mode can be completely incompatible.

Is New Zealand trying too hard to tie it all up with one neat bow?

 

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