Air New Zealand

Published on
February 9, 2023
Air New Zealand - Jerry Beale

The why

After 8 years of establishing themselves as an award-winning international carrier servicing Australasia, Asia-Pacific, North America and the UK – focusing on innovative safety videos distributed digitally – Air NZ turned their attention to the NZ domestic market.

Disapproval from some regions as a result of the airline cutting unprofitable domestic routes plus ramped up activity from competitor Jetstar resulted in a slip in NZ brand love measures. The airline’s service experience was universally well regarded. But among the NZ domestic audience, measures like ‘cares about me’ were declining.

Strategy approach

This project was about more than domestic sales. Early on, we summarized our goal as to ‘bring Air New Zealand home’. In our eyes, every New Zealander – from the 68-year old fisherman in Bluff who hasn’t flown for 15 years, to the 21-year old new-New Zealander who’s only been in the country for a couple of years, to the high value customer who flies weekly - is entitled to feel a sense of emotional ownership and pride in our national airline.

If we re-ignited the brand love in Kiwis’ hearts, our research told us that sales would simply keep getting better. We just needed to craft the right story, based on something that all our audiences could identify with emotionally.

Key insight

New Zealanders are a nation of adventurous travellers. It’s in our DNA.
We treat travel as an essential life experience. It mirrors our optimistic attitude, greeting every new day as an opportunity to attempt another challenge, to set off on another adventure.
The project was initially managed by a small elite team of planner + Creative director + 2 creatives, with direct access to Air NZ CEO Christopher Luxon. But as our strategy hardened, a wider team was drafted in to generate a series of alternative creative territories. One of these delved deeper into the Kiwi psyche, sense-checked against the views and aspirations of both younger and new NZers… and ‘Where to next?’ was born.

After successful pre-testing, a launch TVC shot in multiple local and offshore locations, backed by a re-arrangement of the classic song from Annie by Gin Wigmore went to air. It was supported shortly after by a Dawn Deals retail layer. Timing in market was prolonged via a structured content schedule aimed at demonstrating all the ways that Air NZ delivered on ‘Where to next?’ from within the brand, via service innovation (Airband), destinations (Houston + Buenos Aires).


Our impact couldn’t have been more satisfying. Within 15 months of the campaign launching, all the brand love measures have turned around. And Air NZ was named NZ’s ‘Most Loved Brand’!

My specific contribution

Audience analysis and profiling
Brand messaging framework that incorporated the internal business imperative ‘Go beyond’, business mission ‘Supercharge NZ’s success’ and brand promise ‘Liberate from the ordinary’.
Led the strategy all the way through, including major stakeholder presentations.
Uncovered insights.
Helped to craft our set of creative territories for presentation to the CEO / ELT.
Led the content strategy based on Google’s Hero-Hub-Help model, running workshops throughout the business to uncover potential content stories, and working with the in-house digital and social / content teams to understand how to segment the content and choose the most effective formats.

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