All hail the short break!

Choice Hotels’ new research makes it official – we all need to take more short breaks to support our physical and mental wellbeing   

When was the last time you took a short break?

You know, the type where you pack up the car on a Friday night and grab your friends/partner/family/dog (or simply a good book) and spend a couple of nights in a different town indulging in some ‘me’ time. The kind of weekend where you explore on Saturday, have a few too many wines with dinner, sleep in on Sunday morning then enjoy a leisurely brunch before slowly making your way back home feeling refreshed, calm and happy. Maybe even a little loved up.

The answer is probably too long ago, right?

When it came to light that four out of five Kiwis want to take more breaks but are ‘too busy being busy,’ we set out to help our friends at Choice Hotels put an end to this madness. It was time to celebrate the mass benefits of the humble short break, and thus, was born.

To support the launch of Choice’s new online platform – a website created to enable and inspire Kiwis to plan much-needed short breaks – Undertow Media embarked on a unique campaign to communicate the various findings of the ‘Need a Break’ research report* and inspire people to take action towards achieving a healthier work/life balance.

The research found that short breaks are an excellent way to alleviate tension, and were actually the number one option for Kiwis to relieve stress. We all know that time out from the daily grind is important, but what we didn’t know was that short breaks (just 1-3 nights away) boast the same mental health benefits as a longer holiday. It’s just a bonus that the planning process is often cheaper, easier and more spontaneous!

With this in mind, we devised a strategy to stagger announcements exploring various angles of the research, in order to position Choice Hotels as the champion of short breaks in New Zealand and create repeated exposure to the brand across a 12-week period.

We supported these announcements with targeted giveaways to maximise media exposure and drive broadcast coverage. These giveaways allowed the winner to book a trip for two through, with the winner able to choose the destination and experience the benefits of using the new website.

Finally, we enlisted the support of an ambassador who epitomises health and wellness – the lovely Makaia Carr. Makaia, one of NZ’s most respected wellness advocates, was the perfect vehicle to communicate the research findings and key messages to the campaign’s core target audience of females aged 30 – 55 years.

We stirred conversation with stats such as ‘the average Kiwi took only two short breaks in 2016,40 per cent of us admit to remaining connected to work while on a short break, and 16% of Aussie men, compared with 11% of Kiwi men, claim sex is the best form of stress release and secured coverage in NZ’s top media including TVNZ Breakfast, NZ Herald – Travel, NZ Herald – Business, The Hits morning show, Radio Live, Good Health Choices, The Rock’s Morning Rumble and more.

Undertow Media’s multi-pronged strategy came together in harmony and the results speak for themselves. Over five million opportunities to be seen across TV, radio, social, online and print media, and one very happy client.

*The ‘Need A Break’ report was commissioned by Choice Hotels Asia-Pac via First Point Research & Consulting using an online survey method. This survey was completed by more than 1002 New Zealand and 1048 Australian consumers in March 2017

Gewürztraminer – more than a mouthful

You don’t need to know how to say it to enjoy it, but who doesn’t want to sound smarter at dinner parties right!?

It’s one of the more unique wine varietals, not to mention one of the more difficult to pronounce. Gewürztraminer (say it with us, “Geh-VIRTZ-trah-MEE-ner”) is a seriously underrated wine that is making a stellar comeback this party season.

If you are yet to try Generations Gewurz by Allan Scott Family Winemakers, close your eyes and think Mediterranean Sea… warm air, cool water and a soft breeze carrying fragrant, exotic spices from afar. Just one sip and you’ll experience an intense lychee punch and tickly spice finish, without the over-the-top soapiness associated with some new world Gewürztraminer varieties.

The interesting thing about Gewurz is that it can tame food dishes other white wines can only dream of such as truffles, foie gras and piping hot curries. It’s flamboyant in the mouth yet balanced and elegant – the perfect combination of sassy and sweet.

After tasting the oh-so delicious new Generations Gewurz for the first time, the Undertow Media team was dead set on launching this new varietal to the masses and making it more welcoming for all Kiwis. Because let’s be honest – it can be intimidating to drink a wine with a name you can’t even pronounce. Especially if you’re on a date. Or trying to impress your in-laws.

With the Gewurz’s unique Asian and Mediterranean food matches in mind, it was only fitting we call on our friends at Very Good Dumplings, Auckland’s favourite food truck offering delicious and authentic balls of delight, to join us at the launch. Given the only thing better than wine at midday is wine AND dumplings at midday – the RSVP list was bursting.

We turned a cosy wee space on Richmond Road full oriental with foliage, wooden barrels, steamers, fans and other Asian-infused elements to set a ‘noodle night market’ vibe and provide plenty of Instagram-worthy touch points. There were also bowls of fortune cookies with personalised ‘Allanisms’ inside (classic Allan Scott sayings and words of advice) which went down a treat.

While lead winemaker Josh Scott held court with a special wine tasting, Allan introduced the Generations range and explained the meaning behind the name.

We had a fantastic turnout and secured strong online, social and print coverage in top publications (including MiNDFOOD, The Urban List, Taste, Fresh NZ, National Business Review, Nadia, Kia Ora and NZ Herald – Viva) with a whopping 953,054 opportunities to be seen.

Josh made an interesting point when taking guests through the tasting – he explained that most Kiwis identify themselves as ‘wine novices’ or ‘wine enthusiasts’ at best (certainly not ‘connoisseurs’).

Since now we all know how to pronounce Gewürztraminer, we thought we’d share a few tips from Josh to ensure we all head into the party season with confidence…

Wine 101 Josh Scott

Help – I know nothing about wine and don’t know where to start! What varietal should I go for?

From Riesling to Champagne to Merlot – getting your head around wine can be confusing. Start with Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Sauvy, my personal favourite, is the backbone on the NZ wine industry. It has lots of tropical and herbaceous aromas, and is very, very food friendly. Pinot Noir on the other hand is full of red fruits and is easy to drink with a silky palate.

Please explain (in English!) some of the most common wine descriptors

  • Oaky/nutty – wine that has seen wood (generally found in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) which can also give toasty, smoky characters
  • Full-bodied/round – wine that is full of flavour and rich on the palate. Some wines are quite light in style and easy drinking, whereas full-bodied wines usually have a lot more grunt
  • Grassy – think freshly mowed lawn… grassy is almost always a sauvy descriptor
  • Floral – wine that is light, pretty and has lots of flower and garden aromas. Floral is mainly used as a descriptor for aromatic wines, but sometimes you hear lighter Pinot Noirs described as floral
  • Dry – no sweetness in the wine whatsoever

What’s the ‘correct’ way to hold a wine glass?

There’s no right or wrong, but common etiquette is to hold the glass by its stem. This ensures you don’t warm the wine with your hand.

How long do different types of wine last once opened?

If you open a bottle of wine it’s always best consumed straight away. Red wine is really only good for one night, whereas white wines will last for a few days in the fridge.

I’ve always put a teaspoon in my opened bottles of sparkling… does this actually help it to stay fresh?

Using a teaspoon does nothing but make you look gullible, unfortunately! Wine preservers help extend the life of a wine, but to be honest, it’s best to just drink the whole thing!

What is the correct process for tasting wine?

The process is always sight, smell, taste, spit (or consume). There are no special tricks – simply take your time to appreciate the many different aspects of a wine and the experience that comes with opening a new bottle.

When it comes to food and wine pairings, what are the basic rules?

There are two avenues to follow when matching wine and food – contrasting flavours can work really well, however the safer (and more common) approach is matching flavours that are harmonious. Some tips for beginners – dry whites are great with seafood, aromatic white (sweet white) wines are great with spicy food, and reds are all about gamey dishes and red meats.

So, now that you’re in transition from novice to enthusiast, simply stock up the fridge with a few bottles of wine, make an extravagant cheese platter, then invite your friends/date/in-laws over and knock their socks off with your impeccable pronunciation of ‘Gewürztraminer.’ You’re welcome.