Emily Tan
Dec 10, 2012

TBWA DAN turns New Zealand into Middle Earth for Tourism NZ

NEW ZEALAND - From weather broadcasts in Elvish to Middle-Earth stamps on passports, Whybin TBWA and Digital Arts Network have been busily turning the nation into Middle Earth for Tourism New Zealand.

A passport stamp and art installation welcome NZ visitors to Middle-Earth
A passport stamp and art installation welcome NZ visitors to Middle-Earth

Whybin TBWA and Tourism New Zealand have pulled out all the stops for the immersive '100% Middle Earth' campaign, from standard commercial executions to offbeat and unexpected touches. 

Perhaps most telling of the nation's wholehearted adoption of its Tolkien-ish persona: On 27 November, when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey debuts, arrivals in New Zealand can opt to have a "Welcome to Middle-Earth" stamp added to their passports (pictured above).

Whybin TBWA and Tourism New Zealand also hired an official ‘Sindarin Elvish’ dialect coach (yes, really) who trained TVNZ breakfast presenter Tamati Coffrey to broadcast a Middle-Earth Long-Range weather forcest in Elvish on the morning of the premiere. 

The video has been viewed more than 105,000 times and has been picked up by the BBC, the Daily Mail, and other news sources. 

The campaign has also engaged the artists at Weta Workshop, the outfit that does much of the film's design and special-effects work, to immerse visitors even further in Hobbit-and-elf-land. 

Using the photographic stills from the campaign as the base artwork for each unique creation, Weta’s special-effects magicians (Paul Tobin, Nick Keller and Gus Hunter) created one of a kind, Middle-earth inspired scenes that can lie on top of real photography to create a perfect match, so the parallel universe of Middle-earth-illustrated fantasy lies over reality.

These renditions appeared all over the web in paid display ads, rich media, on newzealand.com, on Facebook, and in real life such as in a 23-meter sculptural lenticular installation in Auckland International Airport. As visitors walk by, the sculpture's optical illusions turn fantasy adventures into real-life adventures in New Zealand. More than 70,000 visitors walked through the installation in its first week. 

Meanwhile, visitors planning to visit New Zealand in hopes of experiencing Middle Earth are helped along by a virtual book created by DAN containing exclusive artwork, filming locations and itineraries. Since the book went live, it has received 130,000 page views, with an average of 14 book page views per visit.

Andy Blood, executive creative director at Whybin TBWA New Zealand, commented: “From the launch of the Tourism New Zealand brand commercial last August, this has been, and continues to be, one of the biggest, most interactive and involving campaigns anyone could wish to be a part of, ever."

The brand commercial alone has been viewed online by almost 800,000 people, added Blood.

According to Che Tamahori, managing director of Digital Arts Network New Zealand, the campaign's online content has received high levels of engagement. "It’s clearly leveraging a huge surge in interest in all things Hobbit related. Our job has been to convert that interest into broader investigation of New Zealand as a destination. And the website is doing exactly that."



Whybin\TBWA New Zealand

Executive Creative Director – Andy Blood
Digital Creative Director – Ross Howard
Art Director – Chris Lewis, Cece Chu
Copywriter – Ryan Price
Copywriter – Lucy Morgan
Group Head – Natasja Barclay
Senior Account Manager – Julia McKee
Account Executive – Lynlee Smith
Production – Michelle Hong

Digital Arts Network

Account Director – Stephanie Creasy
Project Manager – Louise Leitch
Creative Director – Mark Zeman
Designers – Jonathan Mead, Ee Venn Soh
Production – Andrew Zen, Cato Johnson, David Harris, Pete Gray

Weta Workshop

Illustration - Paul Tobin, Nick Keller and Gus Hunter

Campaign Asia

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