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Big Shrimp vs Big Kiwi – The Trans-Tasman Tourism Bubble Opens

May 2021

This is a self-funded case study using our Advertising Testing solution.

It’s official – the Trans-Tasman tourism bubble is now open, with Tourism Australia (TA) and Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) going head-to-head with big-budget spectacles in an attempt to lure Australians’ pent-up wanderlust and wallets.

Given the visually stunning geographies of both countries, it’s unsurprising that each tourism bodies’ advertising has typically been jam-packed with picturesque scenery – including sweeping beaches, national parks, and mountain ranges. This has led to the creation of many iconic campaigns over the years (both good and bad!), including ‘100% Pure’ (NZ) and ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ (AU).

But, while this strategy makes a lot of sense when targeting lucrative, far-away markets such as the U.S., China, and UK, does it resonate as strongly with local residents? TNZ appears to be reconsidering its position, breaking from convention with its latest campaign – ‘Stop Dreaming’ – by taking a more unorthodox, story-led approach. TNZ also emphasized the country’s unique sense of humor and culture, while highlighting all the great things there are to do.

In comparison, TA’s approach was more conventional, playing up Australia’s “bigness” in an attempt to persuade people to travel further, for longer. Local brand ambassadors Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster Blake help inject humor and personality into a tour of both famous and lesser-known attractions, laddering-up to the message that there’s more in Australia’s backyard than they might’ve previously thought – and that they should ‘Holiday Here This Year’.

Which strategy is more effective? We put both ads to the test using our three C’s framework:

  • Captivate: Does it attract and retain attention, and engage in an emotional way?
  • Connect: Does it leverage unique branding properties to create instant recognition?
  • Compel: Does it leave people with a lasting impression about the brand?


The character-driven narrative built around a lovable and quintessential Kiwi guiding an Australian visitor through his ‘New Zealand dream’ elicited feelings of happiness and amusement, actively involving viewers and keeping them glued to their screens throughout.

In contrast, while Hamish Blake was reasonably-well liked, his role – relative to the picturesque landscapes – was more anecdotal, leaving people feeling a sense of pride, but resulting in a more passive style of engagement overall.

Tourism Australia vs. Tourism New Zealand - Advertising Testing - Captivate


Showcasing beautiful, iconic landscapes served as an unsurprisingly effective cue for Australia – both in terms of the country being advertised, but also the tourism category more generally.

In comparison, TNZ didn’t rely as much on these category tropes, instead leveraging the unique sense of humor which has come to define the New Zealand brand – while intertwining this with cultural cues to positive effect (e.g. the giant Kiwi bird). Additionally, the adventure sports so commonly associated with New Zealand helped further solidify the unmistakable link to TNZ.

Tourism Australia vs. Tourism New Zealand - Ad Testing - Connect


In a post-COVID world, what people are seeking – perhaps above all else – is human connection, which is what TNZ is attempting to take advantage of by reinforcing the emotional benefits associated with travelling to New Zealand. TNZ succeeded in presenting New Zealanders as fun, friendly, and laid-back people, with the country offering a vast range of activities for a wide range of people – from serene (tandem bike riding) to extreme (sky diving).

In contrast, TA attempted to persuade in a more traditional way – featuring attractive ‘product’ shots, while emphasizing size to enhance the significance of experiences. While TNZ less-explicitly focused on these aspects, by-and-large consumer take-out of each country being picturesque, having lots of different places to travel, and offering unique/memorable experiences was similarly strong. This serves as a reminder that when associations with your brand are so well-entrenched, people don’t require constant reminding of them – a simple emotional cue can be an effective trigger.

Tourism Australia vs. Tourism New Zealand - Advertising Effectiveness - Compel


Both Tourism Australia and Tourism New Zealand have produced highly effective advertising campaigns that are primed to take advantage of Aussie tourists’ insatiable – and pent-up – appetite to travel. Two important learnings emerged from this research. The first is the advantages associated with investing in branding properties that you can truly own, and the freedoms this subsequently affords you in terms of creative flexibility. The second is that building character-driven, emotional stories will always trump a disproportionate focus on features and benefits. Stories are what capture our imagination and retain our attention – and are often the difference between very good and great advertising.

Tourism Australia vs. Tourism New Zealand - Ad Testing - Performance Summary

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