US talk show host Stephen Colbert embarked on a mission to become the ‘Newest Zealander’ last week, seeking to escape the political turmoil on his home turf.
The Kiwis pulled out all the stops for their celebrity guest, having him picked up at the airport by none other than the prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, who drove Colbert to her place for a BBQ. Oh, and Lorde showed up.
Tourism New Zealand invested $104k to bring Colbert to New Zealand for five segments to appear on The Late Show, reaching 3.5 million people per night. The tourism body estimated the segments would generate more than $5 million in advertising value.
“Tourism supports many of our communities, it employs one in seven Kiwis, it’s our top export earner, and it’s a significant contributor to conservation as well as economy,” said Stephen England-Hall, CEO of Tourism New Zealand.
“It’s incredibly important we keep it that way. The USA is one of our largest markets, its one of the only markets that is still showing signs of growth, so we jumped on the chance to work with the show.”
The idea for the visit started in September 2018, when Ardern appeared on his show and extended to Colbert, who is a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, the offer to become a citizen of Hobbiton.
The segments include an interview with Ardern, a Lord of the Rings spinoff with Peter Jackson, a tour of Wellington with Lucy Lawless and Bret McKenzie and rugby lessons from the All Blacks.
“The investment versus the return is significant and we were over the moon to get the support of so many Kiwis like the Prime Minister and some other famous faces to help make it pretty special,” England-Hall said.
“Kiwis should tune in to see who else they can spot, you never know who might turn up!”
Watch the first episode below.