Yesterday, Air New Zealand announced its latest campaign entitled “Middle Earth is Closer Than You Think,” a continuation of its association with The Hobbit Trilogy. The airline, dubbed “the official airline of Middle Earth” rolls out the campaign two weeks ahead of the launch of the second film in Peter Jackson’s saga. The campaign was announced with a 2:30 video, “Just Another Day in Middle Earth,” featuring Dean O’Gorman, who plays dwarf Fili, and the voice of Sylvester McCoy, The Hobbit Trilogy’s Radagast the Brown.
Tolkien fanatics are well aware of New Zealand’s association with Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth films, but stoking their interest with a Hobbit-themed campaign makes a lot of sense for the airline. Tourism New Zealand survey figures from last year’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey marketing campaign “showed 82 percent of international survey respondents stated the campaign increased their interest in New Zealand” and “8.5 percent of international visitors to New Zealand during January-March this year said The Hobbit Trilogy was a factor in stimulating their interest in New Zealand.” So using Tolkien to sell New Zealand is a proven method, and Air New Zealand doesn’t disappoint with their latest installment.
The “Just Another Day in Middle Earth” video employs a cheeky sense of humor to merge Middle Earth references with Air New Zealand’s friendly approach. Tolkien fan boys will undoubtedly eat this one up, even if there aren’t quite as many cameos as in last year’s “An Unexpected Briefing.” My only complaint would be that in a 2:30 spot, I’d expect to see more shots of New Zealand’s stunning landscapes, but I imagine most people are here for The Hobbit factor and I’m in the minority. It’s a cute little video, and if you’re a Tolkien obsessive, it should make you want to visit New Zealand even more than you (presumably) already do.
Another important component of the campaign is a contest allowing participants to choose from entering for one of two prizes: tickets to the Hollywood premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, or a “once-in-a-life-time Middle-earth experience for two in New Zealand.” Personally, I don’t see why you’d take the Desolation of Smaug premiere over a chance to visit New Zealand, but I’m sure a certain breed of Tolkien/Jackson fanatic would rabidly disagree with me. Air New Zealand is also resurrecting the idea of decking out one of its planes, Hobbit style, from last year’s campaign. This year, they will be turning a Boeing 777-300 into a flying billboard for Jackson’s latest installment. The plane will be unveiled December 2nd, leaving that night in time to touch down for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug premiere in Hollywood. Most Tolkien nerds would kill a bag of puppies for a spot on that plane.