Ad Nut
Jul 31, 2020

New Zealand turns the whole country into a game

You can't really 'Play NZ'. It's a clever new Tourism NZ campaign that packages the country's many charms in gaming tropes, complete with a gaming influencer doing a playthrough. And also a minotaur named Tim.

Claiming that it is "taking gaming to New (Zealand) level", Tourism New Zealand has taken the wraps of a new 'game', Play NZ. The game, according to the organisation, was 85 million years in the making, sets a record as the biggest open-world RPG (role-playing game) ever, and has extremely realistic graphics (get it?). There's also a minotaur named Tim, who leads a disco contest. 

Before any gamers get too excited, you can't really play Play NZ. Instead, it's a fun campaign by TBWA Sydney and Eleven Sydney, which packages the country's many charms into a whole constructed out of gaming tropes. All roads lead to an online hub where people can watch 18 different 180-degree videos that are presented as quests across the magical land's various realms. In reality they present the country's sights, activities and culture. 

The campaign engaged gaming influencer Loserfruit (real name, Kathleen Belsten) to create a 10-minute 'walkthrough' of the game, which she presented on Twitch and YouTube:

Actor Julian Dennison, content creator William Waiirua, and other influencers from the online and gaming communities were also involved, along with Twitch and YouTube, and there's paid, owned and earned media amplifying the work.

Andrew Waddel, Tourism New Zealand GM:

We recognised there was a growing number of people craving new experiences, exploration and most of all a sense of fun and adventure. You wouldn’t think it, but gaming and travel go hand in hand, both are about exploration, wonder and adventure.

Andy DiLallo, chief creative officer, TBWA Sydney and Eleven Sydney:

In a traditional campaign we would barely be able to scratch the surface of all that a place like New Zealand can offer. Mimicking a game was the perfect vehicle for us to show off the many facets of New Zealand. In an open-world gaming format, a new adventure is always just around the corner. This rang true of New Zealand as well, with so much to experience packed into one destination.

Here's some trailers:

Ad Nut finds all of this most impressive. The trailers are great and the 10-minute video was lively enough to hold interest. While there might be a small risk that some gamers will be annoyed by the bait-and-switch, the bait is so fun to consume that they probably won't be too mad.

As for Ad Nut, RPGs are far too exhausting anyway, so being led to some nice lean-back videos is actually the preferable outcome—until actual travel becomes possible again.


Tourism New Zealand - Australia:
Creative: TBWA Sydney
PR: Eleven Sydney
Production Hero Film: AIRBAG
Production Additional Assets: BOLT
Editing: ARC
Design: Goodeye
Director: Uncle Friendly
Music: Otis Studios
Sound design: Beau Silvester
Kaiārahi Māori / Cultural Guide: Karl Wixon, Director ARAHIA
Media: Mindshare 
Technology: Google
Talent: Julian Dennison and Kathleen Belsten (Loserfruit)
Streaming partner: Twitch

Ad Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. You can also check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame, or read about Ad Nut's strange obsession with 'murderous beasts'.


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