‘Bloody Hell’ Sells

Australia’s new ads aim to turn dreamers into bookers

By: David Swanson

We’ve poured you a beer,” says the smiling bartender in an Outback pub.

“And we’ve had the camels shampooed,” chimes a woman strolling on the sand with a pack of humped brutes.

So begins a 60-second TV spot promoting Tourism Australia. The commercial continues with a series of other offbeat invitations, capped by a bikini-clad woman in a dream beach setting.

“So where the bloody hell are you?” she inquires teasingly.

The TV ad is part of a $135 million global marketing campaign for Australia that launched in March, replacing last year’s “Different Light” campaign. The sassy ad is designed to reinvigorate the country’s tourism industry, which employs roughly 500,000 directly or indirectly.

Thanks in part to previous campaigns notably Paul Hogan’s famed “Shrimp on the Barbie” ads of 20 years ago tourist awareness of Australia is already high. The country has topped the annual Harris Poll for nine straight years as America’s most-desired vacation destination.

Following a spike for the 2000 Olympics, tourism numbers have been on a steady increase for the past five years. Arrivals from the U.S. this year are on track to exceed 450,000, potentially making 2006 a record year.

So, who’s complaining?

Kristen Malaby, with Tourism Australia, put it bluntly: “Australia is America’s number-one dream destination. But we’re tired of everybody just dreaming about it.”

A new campaign was needed to turn favorable awareness into actual bookings.

Tourism Australia spent 18 months and $4.7 million on research, speaking with global consumers to identify Australia’s ideal visitor. This target was defined as “Experience Seekers,” travelers who seek out authentic personal experiences, have a desire to engage with locals, are somewhat adventurous and place a high importance on value. The research established that attitudes and motivations of Experience Seekers cross borders, allowing for a single global campaign.

The marketing theme was built around Australians inviting travelers to experience their country and lifestyle. Tourism Australia produced 11 different vignettes that put a new twist on established Australian icons so the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House are seen against a burst of fireworks, kangaroos line golf greens and Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) is a backdrop for aborigines performing traditional dances. Consistent throughout is the theme of Australians tempting us to participate, followed by the refrain, “So where the bloody hell are you?”

Michael Londregan, vice president for the Americas for Tourism Australia, says another big marketing push for the group utilizing this campaign started in September but was already showing results, with an increase of 49 percent more visitors to the Australia.com Web site. On the site, consumers can obtain referrals to Aussie Specialists, a popular program with agents.

“It’s the best referral program I’ve ever done and it has really brought in revenue,” said Catharina Apodac, with San Diego-based Carefree Vacations, an Aussie Specialist since 1990. “Australia is a very hot destination and every year gets busier.”

In addition, Tourism Australia just announced it would be taking the campaign into the new season with a string of high-profile media partnerships, including major ad buys with NBC, CNN, the Independent Film Channel (IFC) and American Express publications.

Londregan said Tourism Australia and its co-op partners would spend an additional $6.1 million in the U.S. and Canada over the coming 12 months with a new wave of media generating 100 million consumer impressions.

This new season of advertising commenced Sept. 25, and the first wave will run through November, before running again January though April.

“Ultimately,” Londregan said, “the goal in this new season of marketing is to deliver 2.8 million visits to Australia.com and 30,000 sales leads.”

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