Product / Service100% MIDDLE-EARTH, 100% PURE NEW ZEALAND
CategoryA03. Best Brand or Product Integration into a Feature Film, Existing TV Show and/or Series
Production Company CURIOUS FILM Auckland, NEW ZEALAND

The Campaign

Branded content (from brands themselves) exists predominantly in the form of longer form content (short film festivals, short films, documentaries, reportage of live events, etc) that live online. The two main terrestrial tv channels TVNZ and Media Works have been much stricter in recent years in vetoing 3rd party content designed to earn media (that in actual fact had a commercial sensibility at heart), rather than pay for media as part of a paid media schedule. Meanwhile, the two corporations attempts at their own branded content is along the lines of cheaply produced sponsored ‘reality tv’ which is nothing more than thinly-disguised, heavy-handed, product placement and demonstration by the sponsor. Which is only a second cousin to infomercial and advertorial.


NZ has a tiny population, and a budget to match. But its ambitions are global. And it was presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity to make the country a must-visit destination off the back of the global spotlight that would turn it’s way thanks to the launch of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. To a Tolkien fan, one place is synonymous with Middle earth, and that’s New Zealand. New Zealand is middle-earth, on earth. Where Gandalf strides, Hobbit’s walk, and Gollum creeps. Where fantasy and reality are one and the same thing. So we aimed to earn as much media as we could by using our association with all things Middle-earth. And if you’re in a country that really is Middle-earth, you’d have a Middle-earth weather forecast wouldn’t you? Partnering with the state broadcaster TVONE, we found one of the World’s only ‘Elvish’ coaches, and for a week trained one of their presenters in the language. Then, come the day of The Hobbit’s Premiere, and without any notice, we broadcast the nation’s weather forecast entirely in Elvish. Viewable afterwards on TVNZ OnDemand. The Premiere was also timed to reach western markets in LA for maximum coverage. The footage was made available to broadcast partners and was also commented upon and shared by overseas media figures in NZ for the Premiere.

Regular viewers of TVNZ’s primetime breakfast show ‘Breakfast’ stay tuned, or tune-in specifically for, the morning weather report and would’ve been given the shock of their lives to find their morning weather forecast being presented entirely in Elvish, and including the weather ‘outlook’ for ‘Hobbiton’. Regular presenter Tamati Coffey had been schooled in the language and dialect for two weeks and was note perfect. A special ‘Influencer’ strategy for the week of the Premiere seeded stories like this to a specially invited group of foreign journalists flown into NZ for the purpose of reporting back to overseas broadcasting companies.

This was reported far and wide by the BBC and the Daily Mail. Hundreds of thousands of Elvish nerds also spread the word online. (And commented how good our Elvish grammar & pronunciation was.) The footage was later available for repeat viewing on TVNZ ‘OnDemand’, youtube, and the Pure New Zealand Facebook page. Hundreds of thousands of Elvish nerds also spread the word online. (And commented how good our Elvish grammar & pronunciation was.) In effect, the whole stunt was a 2 ½ minute branded content piece that hi-jacked the news and made a ‘mecca’ out of Matamata-the actual site of the film-set of Bag End and Hobbiton, putting it on the global traveller’s map. And thenceforth, on Trip Advisor.


Name Company Position
Sam Kwan/Patrick Li Dan Auckland Developer
Andrew Zen/Nigel Mchardy Dan Auckland Production Specialist
Jonathon Mead Dan Auckland Senior Designer
Louise Leitch Dan Auckland Project Manager
Stephanie Creasey Whybin \ Tbwa Auckland Account Director
Natasja Barclay Whybin \ Tbwa Auckland Group Head
Andy Mauger Curious Producer
Jim Mauger Curious Editor
Darryl Ward Curious Director
Matt Noonan Curious Executive Producer
Curious Curious Production Company
Mandy Eckford Whybin \ Tbwa Auckland Account Director
Hristos Varouhas Whybin \ Tbwa Sydney Strategist
Julie Maciver Whybin \ Tbwa Auckland Planner
Chris Lewis Whybin \ Tbwa Auckland Designer
Ross Howard Dan Auckland Digital Creative Director
Cece Chu/Craig Brooks/Andy Blood Whybin \ Tbwa Auckland Art Director
Ryan Price/Andy Blood/Tammy Keegan/Lucy Morgan Whybin \ Tbwa Auckland Copywriter
Mark Zeman Dan Auckland Creative Director
Andy Blood/Matty Burton/Dave Bowman Whybin \ Tbwa Auckland/Whybin \ Tbwa Sydney Executive Creative Director