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Welcome to the Home of Happiness: Fiji, by Havas



The new campaign celebrates Fijian culture first and foremost, as Host/Havas ECD Jon Austin explains to LBB's Delmar Terblanche

Welcome to the Home of Happiness: Fiji, by Havas

Just over a year on from Fiji re-opening to tourists, Tourism Fiji has unveiled a new global brand platform, ’Where happiness comes naturally’, produced in collaboration with global creative agency Host/Havas and media agency Havas Media.

Marking 12 years since the island nation’s first destination marketing campaign, which encouraged visitors to find their happiness in Fiji, the new brand platform shifts the focus to the local people, stunning natural environment, rich culture, and authentic experiences that Fiji offers, showing tourists that the source of the islands’ happiness is derived from the breadth and depth of Fijian culture itself. 

Tourism Fiji chief marketing officer, Emma Campbell commented, “Our happiness brand platform has attracted people from all over the world. We have always told the Fiji story from the perspective of visitors, but we wanted to flip the narrative and show that the source of happiness a Fijian holiday brings, is Fijian culture itself. We’re proud to roll out this meaningful brand platform; ‘Where happiness comes naturally’ which celebrates the people of Fiji, showing that here, happiness really does come naturally to us, but there is more than enough to share.”

Over three months, the Tourism Fiji team and agency partners worked with a broad cross section of local Fijians, ensuring the Fijian culture was authentically and meaningfully represented. This manifested in Fijian culture - rather than the traditional focus on tourists - being at the heart of the platform, which was stunningly captured in static imagery by renowned National Geographic photographer Matthieu Paley and in film by Finch’s Kyra Bartley. 

The new logo, which fuses modern typography with the traditional Fijian art form of masi, was designed in collaboration with third generation Fjjian masi artist Wati Maraiwai Talavutu. She comments: “Being given the opportunity to create a new logo that celebrates our heritage and showcases our traditions to the world has been an incredible experience. I’m proud to be a part of this new campaign that honours the rich and diverse cultures and traditions that exist within Fiji.” 

‘Where happiness comes naturally’ taps into a growing consumer desire for meaningful travel experiences that create a connection to culture and communities. A recent study into sustainable travel revealed that 66% of travelers want to have authentic experiences representative of the local culture*.

Jon Austin, executive creative director at Host/Havas commented on the new direction, “It was such a privilege working with the Tourism Fiji team to go beyond the poolside pina coladas and add new authenticity and depth to the happiness found in such abundance in Fiji; a spirit that has existed for generations. From collaborating with local artists to recording music in village homes and voice overs in the three primary languages of the country (iTaukei, Fiji Hindi and English) to spontaneously and genuinely capturing this Fijian spirit with National Geographic photographers, we couldn’t be happier with how the new global brand platform flips the traditional tourism dynamic and celebrates this incredible place and its incredible people.” 

"We’re thrilled to bring ‘Where happiness comes naturally’ to the world and show how a culture that has mastered happiness is perfectly placed to offer holiday experiences that bring genuine happiness to those lucky enough to visit”, says Austin. 

To find out more, we spoke to Jon about how and why his team put the campaign together the way they did.

LBB> Where did the decision to switch perspectives from visitors to Fijians come from?

Jon> Right from the outset of the pitch process, we knew that Fiji couldn’t walk away from their core positioning of ‘happiness’. They’d built equity in it for over a decade, and to be honest, what destination brand wouldn’t kill for that positioning? 

Thing is, happiness has become incredibly ubiquitous in marketing. Sure, Fiji claims it, but so does Coca Cola. And when a genuine island paradise and a sugary soft drink are claiming the same emotion, we knew our job was to elevate Fiji’s version of it by giving that emotion more depth and dimension. 

A recent study into sustainable travel revealed that, increasingly, what people want on holiday is authenticity of experience. And truly authentic happiness is something that Fiji (and not Coke) can offer. Because their entire way of life is built on it.

We spoke to a broad cross section of Fijian people, and it became clear just how fundamental their happiness was, and how it was derived from so many things. From their stunning natural environment and incredible weather; their tight familial bonds; their faith; their fresh diet; and their generous Bula spirit, happiness has been embedded in Fijian culture for generations. A pivotal moment came when we made the point that, in Fiji, happiness isn’t some gimmick that gets turned on for tourists - it exists whether the tourists are there or not. Which raised the obvious question, why should tourists be the focus? Why do we need to perpetuate the notion that happiness is something that happens just for visitors, rather than showing that happiness exists in all Fijians from the moment they’re born, and that culture-deep, authentic emotion can be felt just as naturally by those lucky enough to visit.

That thought unlocked our entire platform. It pushed us to celebrate Fijian culture and the Fijian people first and foremost, knowing that, for a growing international audience, Fiji’s incredible way of life is the true drawcard. Not just poolside pina coladas.

LBB> Tell us about the work you did to make this campaign feel truly representative of Fiji! The collaborations with local artists; the voiceovers in multiple languages - how did you arrive at these choices; and how did you do it with such care.

Jon> Our recent work for the Palau Legacy Project, ‘Ol’au Palau’ highlighted the importance of truly understanding a destination’s culture if you’re going to meaningfully represent it.

When it came to authentically capturing the spirit of happiness found in Fiji and its people, we knew that proper consultation was critical. Our brilliant clients at Tourism Fiji ensured we had access to key stakeholders across multiple regions in Fiji, as well as ensuring our portrayal of the indigenous community had been vetted by iTaukei Affairs. Having that kind of support really allowed us to find new and exciting ways of delivering authenticity. 

To start with, our voiceovers. Traditionally for global spots, you adapt the VO to the local language of whatever market you’re pushing it out to. But this was about celebrating and taking pride in Fijian culture. And so we wanted to not only record the VO in the three primary languages of Fiji (iTaukei, Fiji Hindi and English), but also keep them in those languages wherever they played around the world, and subtitle the local language instead. 

Rather than getting professional talent into a recording booth and piecing together the perfect take, we spoke to locals in between film takes, recording them in the shade of their village bures and on sandy trails by the water’s edge. I love that their reads are so rich and real, and that you can hear the natural environment all around them.

We took a similar approach when it came to music. The first time I went to Fiji, I was blown away by the sheer sense of joy in their musicianship. Everyone, from the youngest kids to the oldest village-members just find their natural melodies and harmonies, and sing and strum nylon guitars and hit percussion with such unbridled happiness that you can’t help but get caught up in it. That’s what I wanted to capture. And so we visited villages and community centres and beaches and got the locals to sing. We recorded it primarily on our phones, and then figured out who had gotten the best version. Our mates at MassiveMusic stitched all the wildly different compositions together and built it beautifully with the lightest touches. 

The spot itself is filled with wardrobe and staging by local Fijian businesses and designers, which was brilliant to see. 

When it came time to refresh the logo and identity, our design team collaborated with local masi artist Wati Maraiwai Talavutu to ensure we were using traditional design elements appropriately, and that, whilst making the brand feel modern and new, it still paid respect to their heritage. The result is something that still takes my breath away.

LBB> Tell us about the working with Nat Geo photographers! How did they enhance or change the production process?

Jon> Our objective with stills was no different to the rest of the campaign. How do we authentically capture the culture-deep sense of happiness found in such abundance in Fiji? First and foremost, we stuck to the rule that authentic happiness isn’t staged. It’s spontaneous.  

And so we set out to find the perfect photographer that could capture spontaneous happiness wherever and whenever it burst into life. Our creative director Matty Ennis suggested that it wasn’t the usual commercial photographer that fit that bill, but a National Geographic photographer. Someone who made a living capturing life on the fly. Matthieu Paley was a French Nat Geo photographer living in Portugal. He had just wrapped a job called The Softness of Men, which showcased the delicate, fragile sides of men in the harshest regions of Pakistan, and his work was incredible. He approached the Tourism Fiji shoot with a casualness that was both terrifying, and perfect for the brief. When we asked what he needed to do it, he shrugged and said nothing. And he meant it. He and Matty travelled around Fiji, literally with just a camera. No lighting rigs. No support crew. Nothing. At one point, he needed more light in a shot, and so he got two nearby local guys wearing white t shirts to stand around and act as human reflector boards. He slotted in around life in Fiji, rather than trying to bend it to his will. That’s what made him so damn good. 

But truth be told, there was a point just before the shoot where we were genuinely worried that we were entrusting this huge project to a super chill guy that none of us knew; someone who felt so different to what we were used to. We debated whether we should just put it in the hands of one of the usual, very talented, far safer options. I’m so glad we stuck to our guns, and that the Tourism Fiji clients trusted us to forge ahead with Matthieu. The incredible imagery you see in this campaign is the tip of the iceberg. He and Matty returned with over 4,000 shots, which show Fiji and its people in a completely new and stunning light. 

Tourism Fiji’s new brand platform, ‘Where happiness comes naturally’ is rolling out in key and emerging markets with out of home, TVC, a refreshed website, and across digital and social channels.


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Host/Havas, Tue, 24 Jan 2023 21:03:02 GMT