Simon Hakim: Tourism Australia’s big idea…where the bloody hell are you?

For all the hullaballoo Tourism Australia’s ‘So where the bloody hell are you?’ campaign stirred in the mid ‘00s for its use of ‘bad’ words, at least it bloody well said something. The message was clear – we’re having a blast, what’s keeping you? Compare that to its most recent campaign, ‘Restaurant Australia’, where all I can tell is it apparently has something to do with fine dining in fishing waders.

My guess is that Restaurant Australia is what happens when there are too many cooks in the creative kitchen. A strong core idea has become diluted through umpteen revisions, to the point where it says nothing at all — but it looks really pretty. It’s come out of some [relatively valuable insights] (http://www.tourism.australia.com/documents/Campaigns/TA_Austourism_foodandwine_Factsheets.pdf): travelers want emotive, local dining experiences and that once people have visited Australia, their perceptions of our cuisine moves from near bottom of the global stack to the top.

But in this video, the bland centre piece of the campaign, Tourism Australia has failed to capitalise on that. Instead there are interwoven vignettes that seem to imply there is good food to be eaten against beautiful backdrops, but that’s only if you pay attention long enough to get to the end.

Yes, it’s beautifully shot. I’m sure it will make a fantastic addition to the cinematographer’s showreel. But somewhere in the process someone at the client or agency forgot to make sure it says anything, and that turns it from advertising into something more like a music video.

Tourism campaigns are notoriously expensive — Restaurant Australia has a $A10m investment behind it — but the best of them become iconic. Australia as a nation is saddled with the whole ‘put another shrimp on the barbie’ cliche thanks to a much-loved (and now very dated) US campaign featuring Crocodile Dundee himself, Paul Hogan, in the 80s. Then there’s ‘What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas,’ which capitalises on the city’s debauched reputation to entice free-spending thrill-seekers. Even the ‘So Where The Bloody Hell Are You?’ campaign has recognition that outlasted the controversy it created.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXIWSVlHvzw

Two of my favourite campaigns come from the Kiwis. First up, Tourism New Zealand’s 100% Pure. It’s been flexible enough to last over a decade and encompass everything from the Kiwi countryside’s natural beauty to its association with Middle Earth. Whatever appealing aspect of the country it’s teasing out, the messaging is clear: your New Zealand experience (deleted ‘of that aspect’) will be 100 per cent pure.

And then there is Air New Zealand’s Kiwi Sceptics campaign, aimed at Australians who think New Zealand has nothing for them. There were a few (deleted ‘of the’) videos made, but my top choice has to be the hipster, turned from sceptic into super fan thanks to a surprise jaunt through Wellington. [Other videos in the series] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2z4RCttgEhU) targeted the true blue Australian, Europhiles, and party people. Another clear message in this campaign: don’t knock New Zealand before you try it, it’s got something for everyone.

So if there’s one thing I want to leave you with it’s this: regardless of whether you’re selling tourism or toothbrushes and no matter how big your budget is, use it wisely. If, at the end of the day, your campaign says nothing – then has your money been well spent?

Unknown-7Simon Hakim is MD at Hunter
Twitter: @nomis_mikah

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