What lies be­hind the advert ma­nip­u­la­tors

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

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.


Steve Creedy

The Gruen Trans­fer

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