Airline Advertising Lacking Creativity, Says Air NZ CEO, As Kiwi Carrier Kickstarts First TV Push In Australia


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Air New Zealand’s first ever brand campaign in Australia – spearheaded by a goose called Dave – will resonate with local audiences because it will cut through the clutter of risk-averse aviation advertising that plagues the industry, Air NZ chief executive Christopher Luxon has predicted.

Speaking with Mumbrella at the launch of its multi-million dollar campaign in Sydney yesterday, Luxon said a key objective was to be “different”. And in an industry where bland advertising is the norm, that was not so hard, he said. The marketing push, which has been 12 months in the planning, kicks off on Sunday night, sees Dave the goose, voiced by Australian actor Bryan Brown, board an LA-bound Air NZ flight instead of making his own way across the Pacific.

Remarkably, given Air NZ’s 76-year history of flying to Australia, this campaign represents its Australian TV debut and signals the beginning of the airline’s first brand crusade this side of the Tasman.

Asked what his first thought was on being presented with Dave the goose, Luxon said: “I thought ‘this will be an interesting one’.”

He later told Mumbrella: “The way I look at marketing is, is it going to grab attention? That’s the first job.

“Secondly, is it well-branded? Does it communicate that this is from Air New Zealand rather than from somebody else? That doesn’t mean is there branding all over the place, but with the sound down could I work out this was from Air NZ?

“Thirdly, does it get the main point across clearly? As someone who has spent 20 years of my career as a marketer and a brand manager, those are the ways I look at an idea like this.”

Dave the goose ticked all the boxes, he said.

“Most important is the need to stand out, which the new campaign will do,” Luxon added.

“When you watch those series of ads they’re very different from what is bog standard airline advertising,” he said. “Everybody is doing the same stuff, so why would do the same stuff? It doesn’t make any sense.”

Asked if he found the sector’s advertising frustrating, Luxon said: “It’s great because it’s all the same so it’s easy to stand out and be different. It doesn’t take much to be competitive or different in aviation in many ways.

“Often it’s an industry that has quite low rates of innovation, low rates of creativity. It does not embrace commercial or creative risk very well.”

Air NZ head of global brand, Jodi Williams, said marketers knew “instinctively” that a goose taking an Air NZ flight, rather than flying himself to the US, was a winning idea.

“You have moments when you go through campaign developments and see an idea and intuitively and instinctively go, ‘that’s the one’,” she told Mumbrella.

While synonymous with trans-Tasman flying, comparatively few Australians consider booking with Air New Zealand for long-haul travel, something the campaign is hoping to address. Dave will promote the ease and speed of transiting through Auckland in future executions of the TVC.

She said the brand-led nature of the campaign meant it made sense for its NZ-based brand agency, True, to lead the creative, rather than its Australian creative agency, Host.

But Host played a major part in the roll-out and testing of the campaign locally, she said.

“First and foremost this is a brand-led campaign which is building brand awareness for our long haul services,” Williams said.

“It made sense that True, being our brand agency, would take the lead and all the ideas were tested to make sure the idea of Dave resonated. Host then took the core concept and developed additional content.”

She said there was “no science” behind the name, other than it was simple and would not “polarise”.

“I think it was, really for us, finding a creative vehicle that helped us demonstrate what could be quite a vanilla message,” she said. “How are we actually going tell your story in a way that stands out among the clutter and volume of advertising and messaging? How do we pick a character that will stand out and demonstrate thatAir NZ is a better way to fly.”

Meanwhile, Williams said its media agency pitch, revealed by Mumbrella last month, is still in its early stages, with the airline also searching for an attribution partner to handle Air NZ’s programmatic, hard measurement and data analysis.

She said the pitch is not a reflection of the incumbents – PHD and OMD – but simply “good business practice”.

“The whole media landscape has changed significantly, our business has changed, and it’s a matter of making sure we go through that process to understand that whatever partner we work with fit our needs,” she said, “It’s just good business practice.”

Online Source: Mumbrella.

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