DEAR LISTENER by 99/JustOne Auckland for Air New Zealand

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DEAR LISTENER

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Industry Transport, travel & tourism, Airlines, Travel Agencies, Tour Operators & Travel Services
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market New Zealand
Agency 99/JustOne Auckland
Director Marcus Ringrose
Executive Creative Director Craig Whitehead
Designer Jon Tricklebank
Producer Vicky Fogden
Print Production Manager Hannah Alderson
Released August 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Crisis and Issue Management
Advertiser: AIR NEW ZEALAND
Product/Service: AIR TRAVEL
Executive Creative Director: Craig Whitehead (.99)
Deputy Creative Director: Craig Pethybridge (.99)
Group Account Director: Matt Dickinson (.99)
Head of TVP: Vicki O'Leary (.99)
Media Strategist: Jarrod Hunt (OMD)
Chief Executive Officer: Rob Fyfe (Air New Zealand)
General Manager Marketing and Communications: Mike Tod (Air New Zealand)
Group External Communications Manager: Mark Street (Air New Zealand)
Head of Creative Shop: Jules Lloyd (Air New Zealand)
Social and Viral Media: Tom Bates (Air New Zealand)
Senior Writer: Jon Coles (.99)
Senior Art Director: Dom Antelme (.99)
Designer: Jon Tricklebank (.99)
Agency Producer: Christina Hazard (.99)
Print Production Manager: Hannah Alderson (.99)
Producer: Vicky Fogden (Play)
Director: Marcus Ringrose (Play)
Director of Photography: Duncan Cole (Play)
Sign Language Interpreter: Victoria Skorikova (Deaf Aotearoa)
Sign Language Liason: Katherine Heard (Deaf Aotearoa)
Media placement: Newspaper Print Ad - The New Zealand Herald - 14 May 2010
Summary of the Campaign
In May 2010 Air New Zealand faced a serious issue in the form of a negative editorial from the Listener magazine – taking issue with the airline’s proposed alliance with Virgin Blue. The goal of this PR campaign was to turn this negative issue into a positive one and to ensure Air New Zealand came out with their famous reputation intact.
The strategy was to make our PR response intriguing, something engaging that people could share, helping us win the hearts and minds of NZ. Given the Listener had turned a deaf ear to the facts around the alliance, we replied with a letter to the editor written entirely in sign language and published in newspapers throughout NZ. The ad was supported by a website featuring a video translation of the ad.
The results were instant, with media buzz building throughout the day the ads ran. In just 12 hours, the $30,000 campaign earned $300,000 of free media coverage and featured in TV news stories viewed by 967,400* New Zealanders that same evening.
We not only saved Air New Zealand’s reputation but more importantly, helped build enough public support for the Trans-Tasman alliance to be officially approved in December 2010.
The Situation
Air New Zealand and Virgin Blue announced their intention to seek government approval to create an alliance on the Trans-Tasman. This was done formally via press releases, yet one of New Zealand’s biggest magazines – The Listener - claimed the alliance would result in Air New Zealand downgrading it’s services to the level of Virgin Blue, when in fact the opposite was made clear in the press release – Virgin Blue would be upgrading their services to match Air New Zealand’s higher standards.
The Goal
• To turn this negative issue into a positive one for Air New Zealand
• To get people to join in the discussion around the proposed alliance
• To make people feel good about the way their national airline handled public criticism.
• Success would be measured in winning favour with the public and having them support the proposed alliance with Virgin Blue.
The target audience was Air New Zealand passengers, media, bloggers, media commentators and the most vocal users of social media. Researching previous PR campaigns for the airline, we realised a more creative PR approach was needed.
The Strategy
The strategy was to make the PR response intriguing for the wider public, something engaging that could then be shared and discussed. Instead of lawyers responding from behind closed doors, we wanted to respond to The Listener magazine publicly, giving Air New Zealand’s customers and the New Zealand public the chance to get both sides of the story and participate in the social debate. The more people discussed it online and in the media, the more people would get involved - ultimately creating the perfect environment for us to show how wrong the Listener magazine in a fun and original way.
Execution
Given the listener had turned a deaf ear to the facts around the proposed Air New Zealand/Virgin Blue alliance, we thought we’d reply in a language they’d understand: sign language. Seven days after the magazine ran its editorial, we ran our letter to the editor as newspaper ads in New Zealand’s four major cities. This letter was written entirely in sign language and people were directed to www.dearlistener.co.nz to view a translation of the ad.
This website featuring Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe and a sign language interpreter. It also linked people to the Listener editorial. People were encouraged to share the link to the website via Facebook, Twitter and email. Breakfast radio DJs were tipped off about the newspaper ad and media interest in the issue built fast with the story and video making the 6pm news on both of New Zealand’s major TV channels that evening.
Documented Results
• In just 12 hours the $30,000 PR campaign earned $300,000 of free media coverage.
• One hour after the newspaper came out the topic was being discussed on nationwide radio stations
• The website and video was shared tens of thousands of times in social media
• That evening, the story featured on the 6 o’clock news on both New Zealand’s news channels. These stories were viewed by 967,400* New Zealanders. (*All people 18+, May 14 2010 - AGB McNair)
The PR campaign not only helped earn enough public support for the alliance to be officially approved in December 2010, but actually enhanced Air New Zealand’s reputation as a big corporation people genuinely love. Funnily enough, the campaign also prompted the Listener to create an ad of their own mentioning the Air NZ CEO as one of their 'more astute' readers.