The start of winter 2009 was an unhappy time for many businesses. For Air New Zealand it was a particularly challenging time. The recession was hammering the travel market, fluctuating fuel prices and exchange rates made fare management difficult, swine flu put off potential travellers and the International Air Transport Association was forecasting a 2009 US$ 9 billion industry global revenue loss. If that huge uncertainty was not enough, the entry of low-cost carrier Jetstar into the local market threatened a substantial market share decrease to Air New Zealand’s cornerstone domestic business. This left Air New Zealand as the only full-service carrier up against two low-cost carriers – the other being Pacific Blue.
Low-cost carriers have led with the lowest price possible, by omitting items like baggage and meals from the initial price and charging for them prior to or during the journey. For Air New Zealand to maintain market share, it became critical for New Zealanders to understand the difference between fully-inclusive Air New Zealand fares versus the lower non-inclusive fares.
With the local traveller now more susceptible to discounts and shopping around on price, Air New Zealand needed to secure their brand preference. At the same time, with international travellers in key markets (particularly Australia, US, Japan, UK and China) increasingly holding off on travel due to financial limitations, swine flu, Air New Zealand needed to significantly lift Air New Zealand’s brand profile in offshore markets.
With demanding objectives and a local and global market to engage with, Air New Zealand’s campaign strategy required the creation of unique and entertaining content that could be seeded into markets in innovative ways. In trying to generate conversations about the “facts”, there needed to be a big idea to tie it all together.
The single-minded proposition was: Unlike other airlines, Air New Zealand’s fares are all-inclusive. But knowing the audience could be quite cynical about a big corporate pointing the finger, the trick was to accentuate Air New Zealand’s positives, rather than dwelling on the competition’s negatives.
With the help of advertising agency .99, the big idea was born: Air New Zealand has Nothing to Hide. Because the price you pay includes everything, up front.
The transparency of Air New Zealand’s fares was communicated by featuring real Air New Zealand staff wearing nothing more than body painted uniforms and a grin.
Passionate people are the real Air New Zealand point of difference and so were placed at the heart of the campaign.
“Nothing to Hide” became a conversational phrase that had easy recall, speaking of honesty and transparency. This flowed through every piece of communication, with the campaign being launched internationally.
The global seeding strategy included housing all campaign content on YouTube, placing targeted advertising on YouTube, Facebook and Google, and engaging with public relations companies in Australia and the United States.
Combining the best of traditional and non-traditional media the marketing team used a social media monitoring tool to identify and communicate with key influencers, with the campaign augmenting the viral activity through a focused investment into New Zealand television to build immediate reach and engagement.
Gin Wigmore’s addictive track, Under My Skin, portrayed an innocence that underpinned the Air New Zealand staff getting body-painted for the cause in a demonstration of New Zealanders’ can-do attitude, transparency and genuineness.
The campaign began with a “behind the scenes” video of the hero ad, employing influential
bloggers to get people discovering and engaging with the content. This created a groundswell of curiosity around the campaign.
A 45 second ad was then released online, with a 30 second cut-down on network TV in New Zealand.
The concept was then leveraged with an integrated sale: “The Great Air NZ Take Off”.
An in-flight safety video with body-painted flight crew - “The Bare Essentials of Safety” was launched on a special flight hosted by the video stars. The Safety Video was posted online, followed by bloopers of the safety video.
Content was placed on a “Nothing to Hide” YouTube channel, with targeted advertising on YouTube homepages. The social media monitoring tool “Orion” was used to identify key influencers in order to engage in conversations with them.
In New Zealand the campaign presence was maximised by focusing investment over a concentrated campaign period into TV (TVNZ and TV3), with lower level online support through TVNZ Ondemand.
Globally, “Nothing to Hide” achieved unprecedented levels of engagement for a New Zealand campaign. The YouTube “Nothing to Hide” channel earned 10 million views (the previous New Zealand travel record was 1.2million).
The campaign hit number one on the Adage Viral Video charts, setting an all-time weekly view record.
In New Zealand, since Jetstar’s launch, Air New Zealand has maintained market share in the domestic markets that Jetstar operates in – a stunning result given the potential for dramatic share loss.
The campaign was leveraged for retail promotional sales with a two day Great Take-Off Sale, an integrated campaign utilising eDM, online and press. This gave a significant revenue boost and compared to the same two days from the prior three weeks domestic revenue lifted by 30%, Pacific revenue lifted by 96%, Tasman revenue lifted by 40%, and total storefront revenue lifted 33%.
Air New Zealand drove awareness that (unlike the competition) the airfares are all-inclusive. The campaign hit a stunning level of awareness of 78%. Furthermore, correct brand attribution was very high, at 95%. 51% heard about the campaign through word of mouth (PR, family/friends, and online), demonstrating the power of the content.
The extensive New Zealand PR coverage included 20/20, Close Up, Prime News, Sunday
Star-Times, New Zealand Herald, Dominion Post, Waikato Times, nzherald.co.nz, stuff.co.nz,
travel.msn.co.nz and spareroom.co.nz.
The international campaign captured the imagination of people around the world. By late September, Air New Zealand had 10,228,632 unique YouTube views across the “Nothing to Hide” channel on YouTube. The safety video numbers alone mean that nearly 5 million people engaged with Air New Zealand for up to 4½ minutes each (the full duration of the safety video).
The previous New Zealand YouTube travel content record was 1.2 million. “Nothing to Hide” topped that by a factor of seven. The safety video content hit number one on the global Adage Viral Video charts and set a new all time record for weekly views on the chart.
The Safety Video holds the YouTube all time number one spot for the New Zealand Travel and Events category. “The Nothing to Hide” 45 second is at number two.
Over two million viewers returned to watch the content again, with key Air New Zealand markets dominating the viewing numbers, including two million from the US and nearly one million from Japan. The UK and Australia were also strongly represented. In Australia, news.com.au drove more than 100,000 views. Amazingly, four people from Chad watched the campaign, and in oppressed Myanmar one brave soul watched the campaign.
YouTube users ranked the content 4.5 to 5 stars out of five and there were 3041 comments posted on the campaign on YouTube, including substantial commentary around the greater likelihood of visiting New Zealand.
220,000 of viewers went on to the Air NZ nothingtohide.co.nz website. 93% of these visits were from people who hadn’t visited the Air New Zealand website before.
Massive international PR uptake included CNN, Fox, the Today Show, CBS News, Newsweek,
the Huffington Post, the New York Times, the Telegraph, the Economist, the Sun, Australian
Channel 7 for five minutes, and 11 Japanese nationwide news programmes (worth $1.6 million).
Twitter posts about Air New Zealand spiked from 80 posts per day to 26,000 posts in one day.
Finally, showing Air New Zealand had really hit the mainstream jackpot, American Idol host and celebrity wrangler, Ryan Seacrest, put some campaign elements on his website as, “One very naked reason to fly Air New Zealand”.