Origins and Success of 100% Pure New Zealand Destination Brand

It is thanks to New Zealand’s country reputation as clean and green that 100% Pure New Zealand had the chance to become one of the most successful and highly regarded destination branding campaigns. But how did it all start? Here a summary of academic literature on the origins and success of the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign.

Origins of 100% Pure New Zealand tourism campaign

According to Bell (2008), since its colonial development, NZ has been promoted as a scenic wonderland, blessed with pristine environments and a unique landscape. More recently, this imagery was fueled by the 100% Pure New Zealand marketing campaign and the prominent appearance of the country’s landscapes in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. “Set in diverse scenery ranging from rolling green farm land to spectacularly steep mountains” (Roper, 2010, p. 3), those representations of NZ created an image of “a country more committed to protecting the environment than other developed nations” (Rudzitis & Bird, 2011, para. 4).

Representing “purity, unspoiled landscapes, and an authentic experience” (Yeoman & McMahon-Beattie, 2011, p. 174), 100% Pure both feeds from and nurtures the country’s clean, green image and reputation (Everitt, 2009).

In fact, first launched in 1999 (Morgan, Pritchard, & Piggott, 2003), 100% Pure New Zealand has been praised as one of the world’s strongest, longest-running and most admired destination brands (TNZ, 2009; Yeoman & McMahon-Beattie, 2011).

According to TNZ (Tourism New Zealand), the country’s national tourism board, in 2007 and 2008 alone, one billion people saw coverage of New Zealand and its 100% Pure values in print, broadcast and online media (TNZ, 2009).

Not just about the pristine environment (?)

Presumably to anticipate critique and to soften the environmental promise, several attempts were made over the years to shift the focus from pristine landscapes to “people interacting with the landscape and enjoying being outdoors” (Campelo et al., 2011, p. 8), and to depict “a naturally beautiful country home to young, dynamic people full of attitude, open to new experiences, and with a natural disposition to do things, have fun, and be happy” (Campelo et al., 2011, p. 9).

Learn more about this strategy change in our interview with former Tourism New Zealand CEO, Kevin Bowler.

As Campelo et al. (2011) conclude:

100% Pure New Zealand seems to be no longer limited to a clean and green image but more concerned with presenting the notion of a pure New Zealand culture. This rhetoric presents the way people understand nature and interact with the landscape, thereby creating meanings and establishing a sense of place. (p. 9)

Yet, their visual analysis of the 100% Pure New Zealand advertising campaign shows that the natural environment still plays a dominant role in the campaign, illustrated by the fact that as much as 90% of the advertisement was set “outdoors amid natural, pristine, and wild scenery, serving to enhance the idea of a pure, open, and fresh environment” (Campelo et al., 2011, p. 8).

Indeed, as Morgan, Pritchard and Piggott (2002) noted, landscape is the very essence of the 100% Pure brand, whose success “is due in large part to the use of landscape – a very important part of the New Zealand identity” (MacDonald, 2011, p. 68).

Linking back to the debate surrounding the relevance for clean, green for NZ’s national identity, MacDonald (2011) suggests that “using something that resonates with all New Zealanders and which forms a foundation for nationhood gives the 100% Pure New Zealand brand a truthfulness that makes it work with overseas audiences” (p. 68). According to him, not only has the brand “gained a big share of the overseas market,” it has also “been successful in turning a tourism brand to an umbrella brand that effectively markets many New Zealand products” (MacDonald, 2011, p. 68).

Economic value of 100% Pure New Zealand brand

With regard to the economic importance of 100% Pure, in 2005 New Zealand’s tourism brand was valued worth US$13.6bn (Interbrand, 2005, as cited in Insch, 2011; see also TNZ, 2009).

The economic success of the 100% Pure branding is also demonstrated in the increase of NZ tourism “from 1.6 million visitors in 1999, when the campaign started, to 2.5 million visitors in 2010” (Rudzitis & Bird, 2011, para. 5). This number has since grown to a record 3.34 million visitors (source>) in the 12 month period ending July 2016 year, which is considerable for a country with a population of 4.5 million.

As umbrella brand (MacDonald, 2011), 100% Pure, while initially conceived as a promotional tagline targeted at tourists (Roper, 2012), has since become highly valuable for other industries, particularly agriculture and food exports, where clean, green is associated with food quality and safety (Clemens & Babcock, 2004).

For example, the country’s wine producers have marketed their products’ origin as the “clean, green land” (Lewis, 2008, p. 114), while NZ’s dairy industry has placed advertising in congested London settings, depicting happy cows on spacious, green fields (Everitt, 2009).

Learn more about the economic importance and brand value of clean, green and 100% Pure New Zealand here.

Featured image by russellstreet (flickr, creative commons) shows promotion of 100%Pure New Zealand theme at Rugby WorldCup 2011


Bell, C. (2008). 100% PURE New Zealand: Branding for back-packers. Journal of Vacation Marketing, 14(4), 345-355. doi: 10.1177/1356766708094755.

Campelo, A., Aitken, R., & Gnoth, J. (2011). Visual rhetoric and ethics in marketing of destinations. Journal of Travel Research, 50(1), 3-14. doi: 10.1177/0047287510362777.

Clemens, R., & Babcock, B. A. (2004). Country of origin as a brand: The case of New Zealand lamb MATRIC Briefing Paper: Midwest Agribusiness Trade Research and Information Center.

Everitt, T. (2009). Clean & Green? Brand New Zealand. Queenstown, New Zealand: Greenbranz.

Interbrand (2005). New Zealand brand valuation: Baseline review of Tourism New Zealand. Wellington: Tourism New Zealand.

Insch, A. (2011). Conceptualisation and anatomy of green destination brands. International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality, 5(3), 282-290. doi: 10.1108/17506181111156970.

Lewis, N. (2008). Constructing economic objects of governance: The New Zealand wine industry. In C. Stringer & R. Le Heron (Eds.), Agri-food commodity chains and globalising networks (pp. 103-120). Aldershot, United Kingdom: Ashgate.

MacDonald, C. (2011). Expression and Emotion: Cultural Diplomacy and Nation Branding in New Zealand. Master thesis, Victoria University. Wellington, New Zealand. Link

Morgan, N. J., Pritchard, A., & Piggott, R. (2002). New Zealand, 100% Pure: The creation of a powerful niche destination brand. Journal of Brand Management, 9(4/5), 335-354. doi: 10.1057/

Morgan, N. J., Pritchard, A., & Piggott, R. (2003). Destination branding and the role of the stakeholders: The case of New Zealand. Journal of Vacation Marketing, 9(3), 285-299. doi: 10.1177/135676670300900307.

Roper, J. (2010). CSR as issues management. Paper presented at the 60th Annual International Communication Association Conference, Singapore, 22-26 June.

Roper, J. (2012). Environmental risk, sustainability discourses, and public relations. Public Relations Inquiry, 1(1), 1-19. doi: 10.1177/2046147X11422147.

Rudzitis, G., & Bird, K. (2011). The myth and reality of sustainable New Zealand: Mining in a pristine land. Environment: Science and policy for sustainable development.

TNZ. (2009). Pure as: Celebrating 10 years of 100% pure New Zealand. Wellington, New Zealand: Tourism New Zealand.

Yeoman, I., & McMahon-Beattie, U. (2011). The future challenge. In N. Morgan, A. Pritchard & R. Pride (Eds.), Destination brands: Managing place reputation (3rd ed., pp. 169-182). Oxford, United Kingdom: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Enjoyed this post on the origins and success of the 100% Pure New Zealand destination branding campaign? Spread the word!

Florian Kaefer
Florian Kaefer
Dr. Florian Kaefer is a strategic place branding and sustainable tourism expert, publisher, and speaker with over a decade of experience connecting with and learning from over 500 leading professionals worldwide. He is the founder of both The Place Brand Observer and Sustainability Leaders United. Through his knowledge platforms, coaching, and advising, he helps organizations, destinations, and locations excel in these fields and become recognized as leaders in sustainability and place branding. Book Florian as a speaker for your event.
- Introducing: World's Best in Place Branding -spot_img

Get Your Free Copy

Place Brand Leaders Yearbook 2024

Latest articles