Tourism NZ’s Storytelling Led By Big Blow Up Ball Tour


With the eyes of the world on New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup 2011, the country’s tourist body has a unique opportunity to raise the nation’s profile on the global stage.


So Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) is focussing on ensuring that fans consider New Zealand as a whole rather than just as a rugby destination. The aim was to encourage, educate and support visitors to maximise their visit and recommend New Zealand to others when they return home. TNZ’s strategy, in tandem with government agencies, is to create lasting benefits for New Zealand tourism from hosting Rugby World Cup 2011.


Perhaps the stand out initiative in its programme is TNZ’s giant Rugby Ball Venue. An inflatable and transportable pop-up space installed in relevant iconic locations around the world to promote New Zealand as a great place to work, live, play and do business with.


At heart the ambient initiative was an audio-visual experience showcasing the country, its culture, landscape, lifestyle, food and drink, industry and attractions – as well as the Rugby World Cup. The objective was to raise awareness and drive visitor numbers.


New Zealand entertainers and cultural performers entertain the crowds queuing for entry to the ball with Māori songs and dance. While at night the venue acted as a hub for New Zealand-hosted trade and industry events.


From the Eiffel Tower in Paris (at the end of the last RWC in 2007), it toured key visitor and rugby markets – including London (2008), Tokyo (2009) and Sydney (2010) – and in total, more than 75,000 people (including royalty, celebrities, rugby stars, politicians, travel industry professionals, tourists and rugby fans) passed through the ball in person. Millions more are aware of it as a result of PR and media coverage.


During its 15 days in Paris, an estimated world-wide audience of 137 million readers, listeners and viewers were exposed to media coverage of the Ball and 25,000-plus actually went inside.


The project developed in collaboration with the New Zealand Government, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise and the New Zealand 2011 Office.


The temporary inflatable venue (25m by 17m by 13m), which takes five days to construct, can hold 220 people (and 600,000 conventional rugby balls), was created by New Zealand’s Inside Out Productions (the same outfit that created the three-storey Louis Vuitton suitcase that toured the world for Louis Vuitton’s 150th anniversary celebrations) and designed/built by New Zealand’s Fabric Structure Systems.


In addition to the Giant Ball, TNZ is running a slew of other initiatives including online marketing, travel industry collaboration, PR and media partnerships and supporting a hosting programme that aims to turn New Zealanders into four million Rugby World Cup hosts.


There is a four-pronged strategy:

  • Generating awareness of New Zealand hosting the Tournament
  • Help support rugby fans to book their trip
  • Support the delivery of an outstanding Rugby World Cup experience
  • Generate a lasting legacy for tourism


For the full run down of TNZ Rugby World Cup touch points see ‘Links’ below.




Story telling lies at the heart of most great sponsorship activation and this is no exception.


TNZ’s solution to this unique opportunity (and challenge) was to tell the story of New Zealand principally by using digital media to identify and communicate with potential visitors and to demonstrate unique Manaakitanga (Kiwi hospitality) to visitors.


Of course, the giant travelling blow up ball had its own story to tell too.




Giant Ball YouTube:


Giant Ball:




Travel Website – Rugby Content:


Rugby Road Trip Videos:


Facebook Presence:


Tournament Organiser Collaberation:


Travel Trade Website:


Official Travel Agent Partnership:


i-Site Network:


Global Newsroom:


International Media Website:

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