We're a long way from 100 per cent pure
TRACY WATKINS AND CALEB HARRIS
New Zealand 100% Pure? More like 64.5% Pure, Kiwis say.
That's the score they gave New Zealand on average when asked in the latest Fairfax Media-Ipsos poll to provide their own ranking of its environmental reputation.
Considered one of the most successful tourism campaigns ever, the 100% Pure brand has come under unprecedented attack internationally in the wake of a botulism scare affecting our biggest exporter, Fonterra.
A British newspaper labelled the 100% Pure claim "100 per cent manure" and a Chinese newspaper said it was a "festering sore".
Many New Zealanders are also sceptical - in our poll of 1011 voters, just 20.5 per cent considered New Zealand to be 81 to 100 per cent pure. By far the largest number of voters thought we were 61 to 80 per cent pure, while 36.8 per cent gave an even lower ranking. It worked out at an average 64.5 per cent pure.
The poll was taken at the height of the Fonterra crisis.
Prime Minister John Key is expected to face questions about the 100% Pure brand at a tourism conference in Masterton today.
The bad press over Fonterra has raised questions about whether 100% Pure has become a stick to beat New Zealand with - but tourism operators spoken to at the conference say it should remain.
"[The slogan] has worked very well, but if we let our guard down it could come back to bite us in the bum," New Zealand Journeys director John Dam said.
Most of his Asian customers were not put off by the recent bad press because they knew New Zealand was "a hell of a lot" cleaner and greener than their countries.
David Chen, of Kiwi Holidays, said although food contamination incidents had done "big damage" to many products' reputation, tourism was not one of them. "A beautiful country is still a beautiful country."
Now would be the worst time to abandon the brand, he said.
"If we change now, people will say we don't trust our brand."
Stuart Neels, from Tourism operator ATS Pacific, said 100% Pure was never intended as a claim of environmental perfection.
But Tourism New Zealand needed to avoid over-emphasising the environment in its campaigning, with more "sub-campaigns" such as "100% walks, 100% excitement and 100% activity".
Pan Pacific's Matt Brady said the Government should seek separate branding for a "NZ Inc" to avoid becoming too reliant on 100% Pure as an "overarching identity".
But he said 100% Pure had worked for New Zealand and should not be dropped. "It ain't broke, so don't fix it."
The poll was carried out from August 10 to August 15 and has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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