Hobbit Tie-In Sees Smaug Unveiled On AirNZ Aircraft

As part of its multi film tie-up with WETA Workshop, an Air New Zealand plane has been used as the platform to unveil the first full image of The Hobbit’s most anticipated character – Smaug.


On 1 December, fans of Sir Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy have finally got their first 54-metre full body reveal of the dragon (which had only previously been partially glimpsed|) on the side of a Boeing 777-300 belonging to New Zealand’s national airline ahead of the premiere of the second film ‘The Desolation Of Smaug’.


The aircraft then flew a scheduled route to LA to coincide with the movie’s Hollywood première.


A video of the aircraft was released on YouTube to coincide with its maiden flight in the new livery.



While the partnership stunt was also spread across the social space through the hashtag #AirNZHobbit.


The airline has also been running a film première competition in partnership with the production company.


A 2 minute 30 second online film – acting as an airline commercial and a film promotion – features the tagline ‘Middle Earth is closer than you think’.



It encourages viewers to click to the campaign website to enter the competition which offers prizes ranging from two tickets (plus flights and accommodation) for the LA world-wide première of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, to a Middle-earth New Zealand experience.


The campaign hopes to convince potential travellers that the lengthy flight to the other side of the Earth is worth it.


‘For travellers from the majority of Air New Zealand’s long-haul destinations, including Shanghai, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Hong Kong and Tokyo, Middle-earth is just a sleep away,” said Jodi Williams, Air New Zealand head of global brand development.


Air New Zealand has worked closely with the WETA digital production team to reveal their star to the world.


‘To see Smaug fly off the big screen and into the skies like this is pretty exciting,’ comments director Peter Jackson.


This is effectively a repeat of the partnership activation for the première of the first film in the trilogy which saw Air NZ create a previous Hobbit-themed plane which was used to ferry the film’s stars to the Wellington première.


In another matching move, a giant eagle, a character from The Hobbit, was stationed Wellington’s Airport terminal next door to a Gollum character which was placed there for the first première.


The second film tie-in promotional programme follows work in October last year which included an Air New Zealand and WETA Workshop Hobbit inspired in-flight safety video.



Following an approach the airline has used with several of its other partnerships and sponsorship – such as the New Zealand All Blacks rugby union team.





Partnerships are a major part of the country promotion via The Hobbit trilogy.


Another production partnership for the US première sees a Tourism New Zealand promotion create four replica sets from the movie inside the Beverly Hilton Hotel.


The hotel sets include Laketown (shot at Lake Pukaki, Hidden Bay (shot at Turoa, Ohakune), Forest River (shot at Pelorus River) and Beorn’s House (shot at Paradise, Queenstown).


The Hobbit trilogy and the three Lord of the Rings films were all principally shot in New Zealand and have created a tourism boom for the country and the US première initiatives are aimed at attracting a further wave of American visitors.


Air New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand have a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) valued at more than $20m to undertake joint marketing activity promoting travel to New Zealand in selected international markets.


Mike Tod, Air NZ general manager for marketing and communications Mike Tod outlines that the WETA Hobbit partnership follows naturally from the airline’s relationship with the Lord of the Rings trilogy in raising New Zealand’s profile as an international travel destination.


‘Similarly, we will be putting millions of dollars of marketing behind the two films based on The Hobbit to promote New Zealand in new and innovative ways across the globe,’ he explains.




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