The “100 percent pure” strategy used to promote New Zealand for almost two decades is to get a makeover – but not because of complaints about the state of the environment.
Tourism New Zealand CEO Stephen England-Hall revealed last week that the brand would be going through an “evolution” to focus more on culture and people.
Tourism chiefs were quick to stress the revamp was not in response to environmentalists’ concerns that the ‘100 percent pure’ tag was misrepresentative.
“It is not an environmental standard. It’s a marketing strategy,” Tourism minister Kelvin Davis told Radio NZ after the announcement.
His words follow calls in some quarters to ditch the slogan, with media commentator Alison Mau arguing: “It’s time to move on before the statement becomes a mockery.
“Junk the ‘100 percent pure’ line for one that more closely resembles the future of tourism here – our people.”
Since 1999, the slogan has been used to spruik the landscapes of Aotearoa to a global audience and it has been hailed internationally as one of the most successful branding campaigns of all time.
But while it has been successful in promoting the country as a destination, environmentalists have long questioned the validity of the ‘100 percent pure’ claim.
Domestic and international reports have pointed to the state of pollution in local rivers caused by dairying in recent years, and concerns have been raised about the pressures put on the environment by booming visitor numbers.
In 2017 the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found signs of environmental damage beginning to threaten New Zealand’s wilderness, with greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution increasing.
Mr England-Hall said the brand had never just been about environmental purity and there were no plans to drop the slogan.
He argued that as other countries increasingly move towards advertising landscapes, New Zealand needed to distinguish itself by promoting other tourist attractions alongside its sweeping vistas.
“The people who like to hang their agendas, if you like, off that brand, are doing that because of how powerful that brand is. It’s a platform for them to get noticed,” he said.
“It was always about the people, the landscape, the activities and the culture.”
Government estimates show local tourism is forecast to attract more than five million visitors a year by 2024 and earn the country $14.8 billion.