By Wayne Thompson
Aucklanders may end up having the last laugh from a dig that takes the mickey out of their city.
The acronym Jafa (for "just another, er, foolish Aucklander") has been stolen from detractors of the Queen City by Tourism Auckland for a $900,000 advertising campaign to lure visitors. The regional marketing body, supported by 250 tourism organisations in the region, has given Jafa new meaning: "Just amazing fun-filled Auckland."
"We thought we should not take ourselves too seriously," said Tourism Auckland chief executive Lance Bickford.
"We want to send a message that's a little bit controversial.
"We are saying to the rest of the country: come and share in the fun. There's plenty to go round. We have some toys up here - let's play."
Mr Bickford said the Jafa concept had been tested in and outside Auckland. "We got instant acceptance and recognition that it should work.
"We know we are going to get a strong reaction, one way or the other."
Local leaders were thrilled with the Jafa concept and the tourism industry had warmly received it, to the extent of giving $250,000 towards advertising in print and radio media. Companies were also coming to the party with a range of discount vouchers and free treats.
Air New Zealand, big hotels, transport operators, attractions and retailers were offering special deals for visitors. One hotel's "sweet deal" works out at $44 a night each for a family of four, including breakfast.
Mr Bickford said the Jafa campaign would concentrate on big and small events in Auckland, such as the Bledisloe Cup rugby clash on July 24 and the Opera New Zealand production of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci on August 7. The aim was to generate awareness of Auckland as a place where there was always plenty happening - a place worth visiting.
Mr Bickford said the summer season was always good for tourism, with a lot of visitors from overseas and New Zealand.
But it was a different story in the fringe and low seasons, when the special offers would be available.
The campaign would be in two flights, the first between now and October, and the second next year, after the America's Cup - from late March to late September or early October.