Campaign Review: Australia and New Zealand travel bubble special

In this special edition of Campaign Review, Mumbrella invited DDB Sydney's Dom Hickey and The Royals' Mads Catanese to offer their views on the national marketing work that emerged when the Australian and New Zealand tourism bubble opened up.

Brand: Tourism Australia
Agency: M&C Saatchi
The verdict: Rests on easy stereotypes

Dom Hickey, head of planning at DDB Sydney, says:

“All the usual tropes exist in this spot to get people excited about traveling to Australia: breathtaking landscape shots, native animals, sandy beaches.

There’s a nice thought in New Zealanders being able to travel to Australia while the rest of the world can’t, but the headline feels self-serving. ‘We’ve saved you the first sneak peek’ doesn’t feel authentic or believable.

Pitching the campaign as an exclusive for New Zealanders is technically correct but lacks a genuine human truth. There’s no shortage of insights on why the time is right for a trip to Australia, but I don’t think the tone creates a relatable connection.

This could have been pushed harder… ‘Have the place to yourself’ may have been more compelling than ‘Be the first’.”

Rating: 4/10

Mads Catanese, creative at The Royals, says:

“Ah yes, the trans-Tasman rivalry is definitely a thing (hands-off, the pavlova is ours). I think the team has done a great job of turning our ongoing competitiveness into something that’s super lighthearted and playful.

In my opinion, opening the ad with a quokka was a stroke of genius. However, I would have loved it if the remainder of the spot continued to surprise us with the same kind of quirkiness. Gimme more quokka!

Kiwis are familiar with our big tourist sites, like Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef, so it would have been interesting to showcase some of our less predictable sights.

When a strong insight underpins a campaign idea, it’s easy to roll out many variations of it. This campaign message has longevity because, as we all know, there is an embarrassingly long list of other firsts that New Zealand has up their sleeves.”

Rating: 6.5/10

Brand: Qantas
Agency: BWM Dentsu
The verdict: Empty airport shots spoil the sense of connection

 Hickey says: 

“Qantas has weathered one of the toughest periods in the company’s 100-year history with thousands of staff out of work and some pretty grim monetary loses. This ad is as much about making the team at Qantas feel good as it is about potential travellers.

Context is everything in this ad. A slick expensive production would feel out of step here. As a story, it’s trying to strike a balance between Australian pride and heart-warming intimacy. I’m not sure it quite lands either as strongly as it could. The big brand shots of the empty airport land us back in lockdown and the connection shots of families reuniting don’t quite land the emotion of the situation.

This isn’t a long-term piece of advertising for Qantas, and on watching it this week it already feels a little dated, but as a moment in time, it does the job for the brand and what people are feeling.”

Rating: 6/10

Catanese says: 

“After Qantas’ horror year and the shocking staff cuts, the decision not to shoot a multi-million dollar advertising campaign was definitely the right one.

The strategy – to produce a heartwarming film accompanied by passenger phone footage and an emotive track – was bang on. However, the creative could have been pushed further.

Thelma Plum’s rendition of ‘Feels Like Home’ hits the nail on the head. It’s a memorable, emotional and modern take on a classic. And not to mention relatable – that enormous kangaroo reminds us of travelling back home.

If only the visuals delivered the same kind of power. There was a disconnect between the visuals and lyrics. To me, home is my family and friends, so I would have liked fewer empty airport shots (please make them stop) and more raw moments of reunion that make you feel something.”

Rating: 5/10

Brand: Tourism New Zealand
Agency: TBWA Sydney
The verdict: ‘The kind of work we all want to make’

Hickey says:

“This is a cracking idea that uncovers the spirit of exploration and spontaneity that people are really craving. While it’s work that pre dates COVID, the underlying human insight has huge relevance for a nation of people who have been restricted from travel for parts of the year.

The format allows people to go deep on the experience of travelling to New Zealand in a way that hasn’t been done before: a gameplay walkthrough of the best New Zealand has to offer.

We’re destined to be in and out of lockdown for months to come. While borders remained closed to travellers, this experience created a connection to the culture, landscape and history of New Zealand. An always on environment to inspire people while they explore and plan. The genius in this work is that it works just as hard whether the borders are open or closed.

It’s playful and brilliant storytelling.”

Rating: 8/10

Catanese says: 

“Play NZ is the kind of work we all want to make and the kind of work everyone wants to interact with.

The team knew who they were targeting and the best way to reach them. Partnering with Twitcher, Loserfruit was clever, and who better to narrate us through the gamelike video than Julian Dennison?

Unlike the many other tourism campaigns, Play NZ managed to capture much, much more than pretty tourist sights. The video captured the charismatic personalities of our Kiwi friends, which is half of the appeal, right?

And the cherry on top – the timing. No one could have asked for a better time to launch than when Aussies were cooped up, fed up and spending more time than ever behind their screens. Gaming is one of the world’s fastest-growing industries, so it’s excellent to see advertisers being responsive to emerging trends and it paying off.

Play NZ has entered a new realm of tourism advertising, and I’m all here for it! I’m excited to see what they do next.”

Rating: 9/10

  • As told to Zoe Wilkinson. If you’re a senior creative or strategist who would like to take part in a future Campaign Review, please email

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