New Tourism Effort Meant to Capture Aussie Authenticity

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- Forget about throwing another shrimp on the barbie. Australia wants to know “Where the bloody hell are you?”

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Tourism Australia is shifting back to a global advertising campaign with a bit more attitude.

In 1984, then-unknown Australian actor Paul Hogan starred in a short-lived two year Australian tourism campaign with a line that became part of the American lexicon: “We’ll throw another shrimp on the barbie for you.” Although successful, the tourism board dropped Mr. Hogan -- and the shrimp -- to focus over the years on international ads that showed individuals enjoying Australia's attractions or on the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Mr. Hogan and other campaigns have led many Americans to have a favorable attitude toward Australia, said Scott Morrison, managing director, Tourism Australia. “It’s great to be loved,” he said. But the tourism board needs to convert that affection into active travel. Only 6% of Americans surveyed who expressed an affinity for Oz actually intend to visit Australia, a 14-hour airplane ride away, in the immediate future, he said.

After 86 focus groups and $6.2 million in brand tracking, segmentation studies, and in-depth interviews, the board decided it was time to go back to a direct invitation to tourists, but with some Aussie attitude. Although other lines were tested, some of which included the greeting “Where are you, mate?,” the Australians decided instead on the cheeky “Where the bloody hell are you?,” which could only be considered a warm, authentic invitation from down under. “Authenticity is key to the campaign,” said Ian Macfarlane, marketing director.

Mr. Macfarlane said most viewers would receive the invite in its intended way. But if some object? So be it. “We don’t want to offend anybody,” he said, adding the line might be toned down in some nations. Yet, if there’s public objection, “that creates energy in a campaign,” he said. “It’s all upside.”

Australia’s tourism business exceeds $50 billion a year and employs a half a million people, said Mr. Macfarlane. He said tourism has been growing by about 5% per year, higher than the global average. The new campaign will be targeted to the 5 million Americans likely to take a long haul trip, especially the 30% considering themselves what the board calls “experience seekers.”

Preparing the way
In the spots from global agency M&C Saatchi, a series of non-actors describe how they have prepared for visiting tourists by getting the ‘roos off the greens, shampooing the camels, turning on the lights to the Sydney Opera House and, in the case of Aboriginal dancers, “we’ve been rehearsing for over 40,000 years.” In a reference to ocean swimming areas where fences have been installed to keep sharks out, an Australian boy says Australia has “gotten the sharks out of the pool.” The $20 million North American campaign will run in U.S. and Canada for two and a half years. Aegis Group’s Carat is global media agency.

One viral element includes an effort to get Australians to drum up business themselves. A new Web site, created by Carat One Digital, offers Australians -- and anybody else for that matter -- the opportunity to send an electronic postcard to friends personally inviting them to visit Australia. In Japan, the campaign will utilize mobile phone creative.

The tourism board flies 750 journalists and producers to Australia each year in a public relations effort. One such effort, centered on the campaign’s launch in San Francisco this week, included daily segments and advertising for Australia week on TV station KRON.

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