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nzgirl does nothing, creates stir over BDO 'stunt'

20 February 2006

nzgirl does nothing, but creates large stir over BDO ‘stunt’

Controversy has surrounded popular website over its 2006 Big Day Out stunt, even though no stunt was actually conducted.

According to newspaper reports (NBR 17/2/06, NZ Herald 09/02/06, The Independent 01/02/06), nzgirl was involved in a stunt that resulted in a ‘cheating ex-boyfriend’ being flown naked underneath a helicopter. The stunt apparently came apart when the young man was supposedly dropped to the ground by accident, causing some injury.

The official word is out that nzgirl did nothing, after a viral clip was released on Friday from the nzgirl website, exposing the truth and rationale behind the advertising campaign.

“This year we wanted to conduct a social experiment. New Zealanders are consumed by gossip - we have more magazines per capita than any other country in the world. When a few celebrities get caught indulging in recreational drug use, the whole country shuts down whilst everyone tries to find out the who, the what, the when and the why. And if we can’t find out the truth, we make it up for ourselves and pass that on instead.” says nzgirl Managing Director, Jenene Crossan.

“We wondered how hard it would be to create an urban myth or start a Chinese whisper. Would people believe that we did something, even though they had no proof of it? Would they talk to their friends about it? Would it gain any kind of traction? Our objectives were to increase nzgirl’s brand awareness and reach new advertisers within agencies. We know that we hit the agencies pretty well; our membership is at an all time high of 45,800, we’ve had increased advertising bookings and both on and offline sales of our clothing have had significant increases. For the size of the budget, we’re very satisfied with the result.”

The idea for the ‘stunt that never happened’ came as a result of two years of highly successful advertising campaigns that have resulted in nzgirl traffic growing from 30,000 per month to 170,000 per month in under 18 months and advertising revenue quadrupling over the same period.

In 2004 nzgirl kick-started the now legendary campaigns with a stunt at the Big Day Out that incorporated a plane towing a banner stating, “Scott Kelly has a small dick”. This gained such notoriety that the Sun Newspaper in the UK voted it the number 2 worldwide viral email. In 2005, the “Worst Boyfriend in NZ” campaign, which featured another cheeky banner (“Josh Short likes it with a strap on”) and a car-smash up, went on to win the Best in Show at the Axis Awards and a Gold Lion at the Cannes Advertising Awards.

This year’s campaign was definitely high risk, according to Miss Crossan, “we knew we were gambling a fair amount with this campaign – anti-marketing is a new type of promotional tool that’s never been used here before. We liked the idea of pushing the envelope and giving it a go. The nzgirl visitors have rewarded us with hugely positive feedback about the campaign, including their total amusement over the sheer volume of men elated by the notion of the campaign allegedly ‘failing’. After the ‘punishment’we’ve dished out to errant boyfriends over the past two years, I think the men had really smelt a chance to get even. Alas, not this time.”

The nzgirl team wish to clarify that no official time was wasted in the creation of this campaign. “We were adamant that we would be honest and open about the hoax with any official organisation that made contact with us…but in all honesty, we didn’t expect to receive any calls of that nature. We were pretty shocked that people could believe that although there was no helicopter, no naked man, no eye witnesses; and that no one saw the accident or treated the ‘injury’ nor was there any air traffic control report or helicopter hired... Surely, this could have lead to only one conclusion… that there was no stunt.”


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