What lies behind the advert manipulators
IT beggars belief that a quarter of a century has passed since Paul Hogan starred in a campaign to convince Americans to visit our shores by teaching them to say ‘‘ G’day’’ and promising to slip an extra shrimp on the barbie.
The simple power of that campaign, reinforced in 1986 by the huge popularity of Crocodile Dundee , resonated deeply with the Yanks and seemed to penetrate every dusty corner of their land.
Australians visiting remote rural US towns were unable to escape good-natured jibes about shrimps and barbies from people trying to say ‘‘ G’day mate’’ with bad Australian accents. For those of us who faced endless requests to say something ‘‘ Ossie’’, The Gruen Transfer is our moment of revenge.
Just as Hogan’s campaign allowed us to poke fun at our own nationality, this enjoyable half-hour allows us to take aim at the pretentious, manipulative and sometimes silly world of advertising.
The program makes a welcome return tonight with a look at how the latest multimillion-dollar attempt to advertise Australia has fared; an attempt to convince people about the joys of living next to a nuclear reactor; and some more bizarre examples of overseas commercials.
Comedian Wil Anderson herds his able and often humorous panel of advertising gurus with sharp-witted panache to examine the foibles of an industry we love and hate. The unanimous opinion of all involved is that the Hogan campaign was a triumph we have been trying unsuccessfully to emulate ever since.
And the general consensus is the latest bid to link advertising our nation to Baz Luhrmann’s epic
Sharp-witted: Wil Anderson, centre, with Australia has not been an outstanding success. For those who haven’t seen it, the new commercial involves a stressed-out female executive who leaves the US a wreck but returns after a restful holiday in Australia, apparently able to remember her first name.
The link with the film is a scene involving young Aboriginal star Brandon Walters dropping red dirt in her hand after whispering: ‘‘ Sometimes we have to get lost to find ourselves. Sometimes we got to go walkabout.’’
The point is made that national tourism ads are not a doddle because of the many stakeholders involved. Put in a palm tree and Victoria objects; add a tram and Queensland gets upset. But the main criticism about this one is that it is so generic it could be about anywhere in the world.
Other highlights tonight include the return of the segment that pits two agencies against each other in an attempt to promote the unpalatable, in this case nuclear reactors in the back yard.
The experts are also asked to guess what an advertisement is for without showing the ending. Interestingly, none of them gets it.
The Gruen Transfer