Nation branding and semiotics: a case study of the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign
Nepia, Asia May Pania
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The objective of this study is to identify the value creation mechanism behind the 100% Pure brand, with regard to its cognitive and affective utility. This was achieved by conducting a thorough literature review on nation branding, brand personality, and semiotics. The review identified two main facets on which the following study focused: first, the affective component of nation branding was examined within the theoretical framework of brand personality, and secondly, a semiotic analysis was used to reveal the cognitive component of nation branding. The existing semiotics literature was used to provide the framework that shaped the analysis of the 100% Middle-Earth campaign, whereupon it was discovered that the main value mechanism was the emotional stimulus created by the brand’s ability to make the onlooker long for the product and to stimulate them into purchasing the fictional story being portrayed. This was particularly strong in the current 100% Middle-Earth campaign because of the sketched tiles depicting the adventures of the book The Hobbit, made real through corresponding photographs. This technique created a fictional world of New Zealand, fostering a belief that the Middle-Earth fantasy adventures can be maintained by purchasing the product (Cooper, 1994) and eluding to the fact that New Zealand is a fabled land of mystery with adventures one can experience (Larsen, 2005); this made the campaign memorable. The cognitive component of the 100% Pure brand was found to be the brand imagery which becomes the affective component during an onlooker’s interpretation process; and this dual effect combined makes the value mechanism. Most importantly, this analysis concluded that the messages perceived by onlookers would supply the cognitive stimulus that generates the emotions which support the branding initiatives as well as the ‘Lovemarks’ effect. As a result, this investigation brought to light how the 100% Pure New Zealand slogan may not be contingent on the success of the campaign in itself, but rather on the consistency of emotional stimulus that is conveyed through the various signs and messages.