Tourism NZ prepares final Middle Earth push

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Tourism New Zealand is preparing to ramp up its Hobbit-focused marketing for the final time as the agency begins to switch its thinking to a life beyond Middle Earth, reports mUmbrella.

A 3D cinema advertising campaign will kick off locally in December ahead of the Boxing Day launch of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, with digital and out-of-home supporting the push

The movie will not only bring the curtain down on the Hobbit trilogy but also spell the end of the Middle Earth adventures dating back to the release of the first Lord of the The Rings film in 2002.

Tourism leaders are already working through the next evolution of the 100 percent Pure messaging.

Tourism NZ Australia general manager Tony Saunders said marketing activity around the final Hobbit movie will run from early December through to February, while its current Every Day a Different Journey campaign, which also plays on the Middle Earth theme, will also continue.

“We want to maximise and leverage publicity as much as possible,” he said. “Cinema has performed really well for us over the last couple of years and the movie itself has performed well. The last two Hobbit films ranked number one over that peak holiday period.

“What we have found is that the 3D version of the cinema ad is very effective, it is that much more impactful and engaging. The ad will play before the movie starts, and that form of advertising where you have a close link to the movie, is very effective.”

Saunders claimed Tourism NZ had its best ratings among what it calls “active considerers” following last year’s Hobbit movie with 60 per cent considering New Zealand as their first or second preferred country to visit.

The agency will continue its Every Day a Different Journey campaign with the aim of showcasing “hidden gems” of New Zealand, Saunders added. The spotlight has recently focused on the central and upper North Island with Queenstown and the Christchurch and Canterbury region to follow.

The release of the third Hobbit movie is expected to be the final major push around Middle Earth, with tourism leaders already turning their attention to the next wave of marketing.

Tourism NZ chief executive Kevin Bowler admitted earlier this year there was a need to move beyond landscapes after describing its marketing message as “a bit Tasmanian”.

“It is important that our messaging needs to be a bit broader than Middle Earth as we move forward and we are working on our next generation of 100 percentPure New Zealand and what that will look like,” he told Travel Today. “At the moment the thinking is to bring more people and experiences and culture into the story, so not rely quite so exclusively on landscape.

“By bringing more people and culture into the story we can create an opportunity to produce a more distinctive New Zealand message. Some of our work can look a bit Tasmanian, which I mean as a compliment to Tasmania.”

Bowler said Tourism NZ had a “decade plus of value” to squeeze from its association with Middle Earth.

“The flame will go down but it will still be there for a long time to come and we have assets such as Hobbiton that will keep it alive,” he said. “We have operators who are still doing really well out of Lord of the Rings tours, 12 years after the films were released.”

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