The launch last week of Air New Zealand’s Dave the goose video campaign gave Australian actor Bryan Brown and Air NZ chief executive Christopher Luxon plenty of scope – with Luxon mentioning the airline’s new sales structure in Australia and Brown speaking of letting out his “inner goose”.
The Dave the goose campaign (officially called Better Way to Fly) aims to tell Australians that Air New Zealand flies beyond New Zealand – namely to North and South America. For launch story, see: Bryan Brown’s Dave the goose delivers Air NZ message
The campaign comes after research by Air NZ found that only four out of 10 Australians know that the airline flies to points beyond New Zealand.
Luxon reminded his travel industry audience that Air New Zealand has hired 20 new sales people in Australia.
“They are already here and on board ready to go. We’ve created a state sales structure so we can get closer to our trade partners and at the same time it’s less New South Wales-centric as a consequence. We’ve hired an awesome new regional general manager, Kathryn Robertson, who’s done a fantastic job for Air New Zealand as general manager Europe.”
Today Show host Sylvia Jeffreys asked Bryan Brown what he thought when the script for Dave the goose dropped on his desk.
“I thought: ‘I don’t want anybody else doing this,” Brown replied. “It’s not every day you get asked to be a goose. Well, officially…”
Brown reflected on his acting roles: “I’ve been asked to kill people, kiss girls, go to war, throw bottles or something like that, but getting asked to be a goose is a pretty good thing.
“It was a really clever script. And it was silly.”
Brown, known for his many Aussie roles, revealed a strong affinity with New Zealand.
“Probably my closest friend is Sam Neill, who is a Kiwi,” he said.
“He looks up to me,” he added, to laughs from the audience. “The Kiwi brand is something I feel very affectionate about, that I enjoy. And I think is pretty bloody strong.
“I went to the Olympic Games in 1972 and I noticed there that if Australia wasn’t there in a final, I was cheering for New Zealand. There’s an incredibly close relationship between Australia and New Zealand. I’m not sure it’s the same between New Zealand and Australia – but I know that we’re very affectionate towards New Zealand.”
As for playing Dave, Brown said: “I just let my inner goose out. Everything’s instinct, everything you do creatively.”
“He’s never rude,” Brown said of Dave, “but he’s always in your face.”
Luxon said Air New Zealand had flown trans-Tasman since carrying nine people from Auckland to Sydney 76 years ago. That initial flight took nine hours and landed safely at Rose Bay.
“I had the pleasure of living here [in Sydney] for five years,” Luxon said, “and I think the 4.7 million other new Zealanders seem to have lived here at some point in their lives as well.”
Luxon said Air NZ had “the most modern fuel efficient fleet in this part of the world and we get a lot of benefits from that”.
The airline uses its commercial success to plough profits straight back into the company.
“We were first in the world to launch the Dreamliner 787-9. We’ve invested in new lounges in LA, Auckland, Sydney and across the network. We’ve invested in technology and digital; we are rolling out world class Wi-Fi internationally, trans Tasman and domestically.
Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon with Aussie actor Bryan Brown in Redfern, Sydney for launch of new campaign
“Air NZ is number-one place where New Zealanders want to work. Not all airlines can say that.”
Luxon added that Australia’s latest AMR corporate reputation index put Air New Zealand in fifth place. (Air NZ rival Qantas was ninth on the list and Air NZ ally Virgin Australia was 15th, though Luxon didn’t mention that.)
“We have 440 flights a week and 51% of market share on share on the Tasman,” Luxon said.
“We are the biggest and best at moving 1.2 million Australians to New Zealand every year and 1.3 million Kiwis to Australia every year. The good news is that the Kiwis are now coming back, so you don’t have to worry about that. That happens when you have an economy with some stability which has actually had only two prime ministers in 17 years!”
Warming to his theme, Luxon quipped that New Zealanders loved Australian soap operas – so they enjoyed watching the Australian political scene.
Back to the campaign, Luxon said Air NZ’s strategic ambition “is that we want a slice of the Australia long-haul market, to north and south America, and we can hub that traffic through Auckland every efficiently. From today we want to declare that we think there is a much better way for Australians flying beyond, to Vancouver, San Francisco, Houston LA and Buenos Aires.”
Luxon said Air NZ had a “consistent fleet, so what you buy is what you get. We have a true lie-flat bed in economy; no one else has that”.
He mentioned Air New Zealand’s joint venture with Tourism Australia. “We promote Australia in America; there is very high dual-destination traffic.”
Written by Peter Needham