Auckland ups promotional game with new marketing push

After the birth of the supercity and the lure of all those domestic and foreign visitors expected to hit the streets during the Rugby World Cup, Auckland's promotional efforts have been cranked up.

It's hard to promote crap places, which means town branding campaigns often end up smacking of desperation ('Milton: A Town of Opportunities', for example). But you would think promoting a city that Monocle magazine recently ranked the world's 16th most livable would be a much easier task.

Sadly, due in part to the fragmented bureaucracy of the past, Auckland's promotional efforts have been rather disjointed in recent years, especially when compared to the impressive destination marketing work done by the Wellingtonians and New Zealand as a whole.

Now, however, after the birth of the supercity and the lure of all those domestic and foreign visitors expected to hit the Auckland streets during the Rugby World Cup, things have been turned up a notch or two.

Heart of the City, a 'mainstreet' business group that aims to foster the success of the CBD economy, has been working on the strategic marketing plan for the central city in partnership with the Auckland City Council and Colenso for the past three years.

And project manager Jane Stewart says it's the epitome of a mutually beneficial relationship, because costs of the campaign can be shared between the two organisations (some of it comes out of a CBD targeted rates fund) and, in the case of the recent 'A Rubbish Idea', where green rubbish bags were handed out to help beautify the urban environment, Heart of the City was able to use its connections to educate local businesses about the council's plan.

While Tourism Auckland, which now comes under the ATEED banner, is a separate entity that focuses more on promoting the region as a whole and attracting international visitors, she says they do work together because it's in everyone's interests to attract more people to the area—and in no-one's interests to double up.

Colenso's 'Little People' TVCs (created by Special Problems) and print ads are based on a new, Gulliver-esque expression of the Big Little City idea and, as senior account director Dave Munn says, the juxtaposition of big and little things creates "something inspiring, unexpected and contemporary but still conveys very rational and literal information, which is always a challenge with destination tourism".

The Big Little City website has also had a considerable update and, just as Wellington has done recently, it's tapping into the desire for discounts with the launch of 48 Hour City (most of the deals will be exclusive to Big Little City members).  

Munn says the team has also "woven a tighter web" around social media, with users asked to create and rate urban journeys and TOP 5's (in a similar fashion to the user-generated Tourism Australia campaign) and a King of the City crowned each week to reward the most interaction (in a similar fashion to Foursquare's incentivised mayor function).

Its big promotional push for the Rugby World Cup is the free Insiders' Guide to downtown Auckland, which introduces six unique neighbourhoods in the CBD and lets visitors in on the best fashion boutiques, backstreet noodle bars, influential galleries or the latest theatre spaces from the perspective of the locals (as well as being dotted around the city, the guide is also available as an eBook, iPhone and iPad app or on your Android. Download it here).