How New Zealand put itself on the map

Tourism New Zealand managed to shift the world’s perceptions of the country with just a small budget and sense of humour.

Tourism New Zealand’s CEO Stephen England-Hall was in a Starbucks while in California when he noticed that New Zealand was left off its wall map of the world.

When he did a little digging, he realised this was not an uncommon occurrence, with New Zealand left off hundreds of maps across the world. England-Hall was hit with the scale of his organisation’s challenge: how would people know to visit New Zealand if it is not even on the map?

Tourism New Zealand needed to change this. But with only a 0.28% share of the global travel market, the country is one of the smallest tourism destinations in the world, and budgets are similarly tiny.

To tackle he issue, Tourism New Zealand created #getNZontheMap campaign in which famous people connected to the country – including Flight of the Conchords star Rhys Darby, singer Ed Sheeran and prime minister Jacinda Ardern – appeared in a series of films. Each one highlighted New Zealand’s absence on world maps and came up with a humorous conspiracy theory around it.

The results were unprecedented for the tourism group. The campaign achieving 10.4 million organic views, £7.5m in earned media value and was declared viral by the New York Times.

New Zealand was also back on world maps, with interest in booking a trip to the country increasing from 19% to 24% in UK.

The success also saw Tourism New Zealand win the Travel, Leisure and Transport award at the 2019 Marketing Week Masters Awards.

The campaign moved New Zealand from a destination known for stunning natural landscapes, to one that also has a cheeky personality. It was a risk but one that built a global awareness capturing the the attention of consumers and world media.

England-Hall says: “The Maps campaign is testament to the power of creativity over big budgets. The taxpayers of New Zealand got a return on investment many tens, if not hundreds, of times over.”