EDITORIAL WEDNESDAY 31.03.10
There is nothing like Australia. That’s the latest tagline developed by Tourism Australia to promote our nation as a tourist destination. We all know it’s true, and we all have our reasons for believing that there is nothing like Australia, and Tourism Australia is relying on that knowledge to help them get the message across to the rest of the world. From the middle of next month we are all invited to upload our photos of our favourite holiday spots with a brief explanation of why we think they are so good, and why there’s “nothing like Australia”. Up for grabs is a prize for a winner from every state, as well as a grand prize of a $25 000 ultimate Australian holiday.
It’s a good idea to get the people of Australia to contribute to the tourism campaign, because that way we are less likely to start criticizing the slogan. Previous efforts have met with mixed success. Some have been the target of tidal waves of criticism, antipathy, and even apathy with some campaigns achieving an unprecedented level of instant forgettability. It’s not so long ago that Baz Luhrmann, the director of the film “Australia”, invited foreigners to “Come Walkabout” with an implied promise that the experience would change their lives. Looking more like they were designed to sell sedatives, those ads might have been more successful if more Americans had actually seen his movie at the time.
Before that was the delightful Lara Bingle, who through no fault of her own is remembered by Australians for asking “where the bloody hell are you?” as well has her more recent escapades. Unfortunately, whether the Japanese and the Americans actually remember it or not, they failed to understand it. It really wasn’t poor Lara’s fault, and in retrospect perhaps it would have been better if she had merely winked at the camera and said something like, “Come on over and we’ll show you a good time…” At least, the damned Americans would have understood that it was actually an invitation, not a complaint.
Does anybody remember the “Naturally Free Spirited” campaign? No, neither do I, but apparently that ran for almost ten years. The one campaign which everybody remembers, not only here but right around the world, is the one that ended more than twenty years ago. When Paul Hogan advised American viewers to “throw another shrimp on the barbie”, tourist visitor numbers doubled. It remains our most successful tourism promotion ever, and it still works for us today because even though the ads are long gone, people still remember Paul Hogan. Maybe that’s what he was talking about when he claimed that the tax office should be paying him, rather than pursuing him for alleged evasion of taxes.
It’s true that there is “nothing like Australia”, but it remains a challenge getting that message across to the rest of the world.