Middle Earth Passport Stamp

Tourism New Zealand’s Middle Earth Stamp campaign was recognised with the Grand Prix for Media at the Spikes Asia Awards held in Singapore last week. Department of Internal Affairs officials issued a specially designed “Welcome to Middle Earth” stamp in the passports of 70,000 international travellers arriving in New Zealand during the premiere week for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in November 2012.

Middle Earth New Zealand Passport Stamp

Whybin\TBWA, the agency behind the project, explains the thinking behind their work.

“New Zealand has a tiny population, and a budget to match. But its ambitions are global. And it was presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity to make the country a must-visit destination off the back of the global spotlight that would turn it’s way thanks to the launch of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. To a Tolkien fan, one place is synonymous with Middle earth, and that’s New Zealand. New Zealand is middle-earth, on earth. Where Gandalf strides, Hobbit’s walk, and Gollum creeps. Where fantasy and reality are one and the same thing. And if you’re entering a country that really is Middle-earth, you’d get a stamp in your passport that said ‘Welcome to Middle-earth’ wouldn’t you? And the next thing you’d do is tell your friends all about it too because you’re a potent and primed media channel in your own right. And ‘you’ have huge influence.”

Larry Curtis, Senior Contributor of ‘theonering.net’, was invited to act as guest editor for the New Zealand 100% Pure Facebook page. Arriving in New Zealand he immediately photographed his passport stamp and broadcast it online via Instagram and Facebook to his hundreds of thousands of followers. Within an hour posting a photo of his own stamp, Larry received nearly 4,000 likes.

Larry Curtis Middle Earth Facebook photo

Journalist Ann Curry posted a shot of her Middle Earth passport stamp to 1.45 million followers adding: ‘NZ has actually stamped my passport ‘welcome to middle-earth’. How wild is THAT’.

Ann Curry Twitter Middle Earth Passport Stamp Facebook photo

Ann Curry Middle Earth Passport Stamp Twitter photo


The Passport Stamp campaign was developed at Whybin\TBWA, Auckland, by executive creative director Andy Blood, copywriters Ryan Price and Lucy Morgan, art director Cece Chu, designer Chris Lewis, group head Natasja Barclay, digital creative director Ross Howard, planner Julie Maciver, production manager Michelle Hong, senior account director Julia Mckee and account manager Lynlee Smith.