With ‘Wellywood’, Wellington Airport misses the point about how to brand a city

I think this shows just how badly Wellington Airport CEO Steve Fitzgerald misses the point:

Being niche and understated is cool positioning for a local audience, but to be relevant on the world tourism trail, we need to shout about why we are great.

   Actually, not always. And even if we did have to shout about it, saying, ‘We are loser tryhards’ is not the message we want to give off.
   Mr Fitzgerald, have you asked how potential visitors would perceive this sign? Did you not learn much from last year’s experience, where there were international people joining anti-sign groups? Or that there were comments from branding experts abroad who felt this sign was a massive joke?
   Marketing is not always about shouting, nor is destination branding. It’s about, first and foremost, getting your internal audience on side. In the case of the ‘Wellywood’ sign, you’re failing at that. One poll last year showed four in five Wellingtonians were against this sign.
   Secondly, marketing is a job that’s done not just by Tourism Wellington, but by all residents, because it’s no longer a mass media, top–down discipline. People power drives a destination’s brand.
   You’ve just made this city that much harder to sell, which has consequences for visitor numbers and airport users—but should I really expect a non-Wellingtonian, non-New Zealander to understand what this place means to us?

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5 thoughts on “With ‘Wellywood’, Wellington Airport misses the point about how to brand a city

  1. Thank you for your support, Nigel. That’s exactly the message the Airport will be sending. Then, Steve Fitzgerald is an Australian, and I’m pretty sure that’s how he feels about us.

  2. I’m an Australian. I’ve been living here for 5 years with my NZ husband, and have no intention of leaving. We’ve been in Miramar for about 18 months. We like it here, and are both devastated at this appalling decision, and I personally am going to do anything I can to stop it.

    Please don’t make generalisations about people making short-sighted and stupid decisions because of where they come from. The simple point is that he may well not see this issue from Wellingtonians’ point of view because he has no long-term commitment to the city and will be somewhere else in a few years’ time. It may be an Australian’s joke at Wellington’s expense, but it’s more likely that SF has a self-serving agenda to get his own ‘brand’ known and leave a legacy, however embarrassing and destructive. Of course, I am nevertheless extremely embarrassed that he happens to be Australian…

    So getting back to how to stop it. What is happening besides the Facebook campaign? I’m not on Facebook and don’t intend to be. Has any consideration been given to a full page ad in the Dom Post? A delegation or petition the airport? To Celia Wade-Brown? The decision needs to be reversed before contracts are finalised and orders made. Not that I care whether W Airport suffers any economic loss after what they’ve done, but it might be easier contractually.

    I’m hoping that something is underway right now, and I just don’t know about it. If you could point me to a website or person to contact to make my voice heard, much appreciated. I am writing a letter to SF at the moment.

    Joanne Emery

  3. Joanne, that last sentence was directed specifically to Mr Fitzgerald. Considering I was not born in this country, either, I could hardly generalize. It is my way of saying to Mr Fitzgerald that, by ignoring the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Wellingtonians, he cannot consider himself one of us, even if he had been born here.
       A full-page ad in the local paper is $16,000, so I believe that is out of the question. The Mayor believes the processes have been followed. Your best bet is to write to the airport and let your feelings be known; your letter to Mr Fitzgerald will be the right move as well.
       Right now, my own campaign has been to get the Hollywood people involved, which is what I did last year during my campaign for mayor—and which may have contributed to the Airport backing down in 2010.
       The application for the sign was made in December 2009. It was a non-notified consent, which is why so many councillors in March 2010 (and again in May 2011) were surprised by it. It is my feeling that granting such a consent so speedily may be wrongful, too, and this may warrant some investigation.

  4. Well done Steve Fitzgerald!
    We need to let people know that we are a fun city, lets not get too serious about the sign. Hope it goes ahead.
    The movie industgry is for fun after all.

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