Students have a whale of a time

Marketing students lend a hand to help key tourism company.

In March this year tourism companies ground to a halt as New Zealand went into lockdown in the wake of Covid-19.

For Whale Watch Kaikoura (WWK), this meant going from 800 tourists a day on peak, to zero. As more than 50% of Kaikoura’s income is derived from tourism, the pandemic has had a devastating impact on the town.

For marketing students studying BUSMGT 754 (Marketing Communications) in the Business Masters programme, creating marketing solutions for real clients is a key component of the course.

After watching an interview with WWK’s CEO which noted that 80 percent of the company’s business, the international tourism market, had evaporated overnight with border closures, and that their focus was now shifting to the domestic tourism market, it was evident that this was a company that would benefit from an Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) plan to encourage New Zealanders to start exploring their own beautiful backyards.

Students engaged with WWK’s Marketing Manager, Lisa Bond, and were provided with a company brief, outlining the organisation’s current requirements. They were placed in groups of 4-5 and worked over the quarter to develop an IMC plan containing marketing solutions for the struggling tourist business.

One group was selected as the winning team – you can see their impressive marketing plan at the end of this page.

Students Susie Cao, James Leng, Fandel Li, Eric Yu, and Louis Zhang, worked with WWK to devise a cohesive, integrated marketing communication campaign, designed to increase brand awareness, consolidate brand loyalty and reinforce WWK’s leading industry position.

They started by conducting a situational analysis to identify WWK’s competitive advantages. Formed in 1987, WWK has a long history, it is the only place to watch whales all year round with a 95% success rate, and it is 100% Maori owned and oriented.

Next they identified their domestic target audience as being families with school-aged kids, based in Christchurch.

This helped the team develop a media planning strategy and create meaningful messaging to engage with consumers.

Based on the positioning and target audience the students identified campaign objectives consisting of three different levels: Marketing objectives, communication objectives, and media objectives. With this in mind, the team developed a campaign with the tag line ‘Have a Whale of a Time’.

Lisa Bond, Marketing Manager, WWK says “It has been such a pleasure to work alongside the students from the University of Auckland Graduate School of Management Business Masters Programme in their Marketing Communication course. To be able to share our business’s vision, values and mission is always such a gift and then to see that turned into the excellent presentations that the students put together is amazing. It adds a fresh perspective to what our product offering is about and provides us with ideas of how we can further improve how we promote ourselves.”

Audrea Warner, Professional Teaching Fellow, Graduate School of Management says “students in the BUSMGT 754 course are provided with the opportunity to integrate marketing knowledge gained in the classroom and create viable plans that can be tested and applied by companies. This prepares our students for their future marketing careers.”