Who Killed Rico? Air New Zealand’s Clever Move to Phase Out the Loveable Lunatic…

Who killed Rico?

That’s the million-dollar, or free round-trip, question.

Air New Zealand’s fuzzy little mascot that crept his way into our hearts over the past year, and took a starring role in several of my presentations, was recently “murdered” at a party in his posh new Hollywood home. In a move partially designed to generate more buzz, given that the airline created  an entire Clue-style game over the mystery (with a clever URL at, and partially designed to end it’s relationship with the controversial character that generated global buzz yet rubbed many people the wrong way, ANZ has continued to blaze the trail of social media innovation in the airline industry.


After scouring his mansion for clues, participants were left to decide who killed Rico (choices: Snoop Dogg, Richard Simmons, Guliana Rancic (E! News), Holly Madison (Hugh Hef’s ex), rugby star Ma’a Nonu and New Zealand TV host Paul Henry), in what room room in Rico’s digs, with what weapon. In order to uncover the clues necessary to make a sound accusation, the airline cleverly requires players to answer trivia questions about it’s social media campaigns over the past year, which featured several of the murder suspects.

While I will be sad to see Rico go, I am really impressed with the manner in which Air New Zealand has phased the character out. I myself, certainly without free time to spare, ended up spending a good 45 minutes on the game’s site while traipsing around for clues. With today’s shortening attention spans, I’ll be curious to see any statistics ANZ releases about site visit time…they certainly came up with an engaging way to make sure Rico goes out with a bang. Of course it helps that the grand prize for accurate sleuthing includes round-trip airfare across the Pacific.


For the record, I was wrong about the culprit. While my calculations had a quickly-fleeing Paul Henry as the cuplrit, it turns out that Richard Simmons was the guilty party, knocking off Rico with a stiletto in the billiard room in a jealous fit over Rico’s ability to do 25 thousand and TWO jumping jacks–two more than the fitness guru could.

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Customer Engagement Strategy for the Airline Industry