The thinking behind AAT Kings 'Wild Awaits' campaign

Touring company's chief marketing officer shares how the latest marketing campaign was created and how it changes the brand's positioning

For more than 100 years AAT Kings has been taking people to see the best of Australia and New Zealand’s natural wilderness - at least until 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic put the brakes on much of this iconic touring company’s activities.

Now as Australians begin to enjoy their regained freedom of movement, AAT Kings is launching a new campaign that strives to remind people what awaits them beyond the four walls of their homes.

‘Wild Awaits’ is the result of a collaboration between the full-service creative agency, Thinkerbell, and the team at AAT Kings, led by chief marketing officer, Bridie Commerford.

“We know that particularly post-Covid, people were looking for experiences that have connection, either with another human being, or with cultural experiences and wilderness areas,” Commerford told CMO. “We also know that what we have been doing for a hundred years is taking people to have these connections with locals and with first nations Australians or Māori culture.”

Commerford and her team went through a number of creative rounds with Thinkerbell before settling on ‘Wild Awaits’ as the idea which resonated most strongly.

“I really loved the concept that there is something out there waiting for you to explore and experience,” Commerford said. “I also loved the fact that it sounded like it was off the beaten track. It is encouraging you to get out there and roam.”

Credit: AAT Kings

The new campaign also reflects a comprehensive review of how AAT Kings presents itself based on research and insights from partners and customers. The result is greater emphasis on many of the things AAT Kings has traditionally prided itself on, such as local knowledge of its destinations and respect for indigenous traditions and culture. This includes forging closer ties with the Central Land Council and the introduction of acknowledgment of country plaques on all coaches.

“The travel directors who go out with our guests on the road are the ones who bring it to life,” Commerford said. “It can’t just live in a tagline; it has to be authentic and permeate through the entire organisation. We are working through training with our travel directors so they can really help guests understand where they are and what country they are on at any particular point in time. And that is a lovely way of embedding that cultural connection.”

As a business that sells through agencies as well as direct, AAT Kings has taken the opportunity to refresh and redesign its printed materials. However, with many travel agents continuing to work from home, AAT Kings has also devised new interactive brochures that agents can customise and email to clients. The company’s website has also been redeveloped to present tour pages more simply.

In addition, AAT Kings has engaged Atomic 212 to help it step up its online presence, in addition to its traditional print advertising.

Commerford said in bringing the new campaign together her team also considered many travellers might continue to experience trepidation about travelling.

“Part of what we do is help people travel more simply and free up their time to travel and enjoy the tour, as opposed to spending all your time worrying about the logistics,” she said. “People are relying on experts more than ever and they want help to navigate all of that.”

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