Aussies upset over latest tourism ad

It's a short film starring kangaroos, koalas, surfers, a barbie on the beach, aborigines, a famous shell-shaped opera house and a local pub.

What else could it be but the latest commercial from Tourism Australia, designed to bring the punters in to spend their dollars, pounds, euros, roubles and yen on enjoying slices of quintessentially Australian life?

As you can gather, the commercial is a blatant compendium of long-established cliches and stereotypes relating to what they used to call “the lucky country”. Or as the jingle says, “There's nothing like Australia.” Some might say “Thank God,” but that's another matter.

Naturally the flak has been flying from sensitive Aussies, embarrassed to be cast as extras in an age-old one-dimensional stage set. One guy says the ad “casts us as a nation of tone-deaf bogans caught in a 70s time-warp” while another laments: “when will we shake these dowdy, 50-year-old stereotypes?”

Apart from chuckling a little and wondering exactly what a bogan is, the rest of the world will just feel it's time for the critics to get real.

No doubt the commercial could have been fronted by Germaine Greer introducing a leading ballet company, followed by an inscrutable poetry reading, but the odds are that it wouldn't have done the job.

When you've got a mere 90 seconds to get people thinking about Oz as a holiday destination you have to play to your strengths, however boring and tired these may seem to the natives.

Years ago, long after the Beatles took the world by storm, the UK still ran commercials in the US in which classically posh actor Robert Morley extolled the virtues of Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and a few other instantly recognisable pieces of loved and loathed UK heritage.

The Brits hated it but it worked, as middle America flocked to take extended tours of UK Ruritania. So the Aussies will just have to grit their teeth, crack another tinnie and think of the wonderful effects on their balance of payments.

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About David O'Reilly

David is a former deputy editor of Campaign and writer for a number of leading titles including Management Today and the Sunday Times. He is a partner in The Editorial Partnership.