Back on the brand wagon
Othe federal government plans to spend $20 million through four years on a brand campaign to promote Australia’s investment potential, services and tourism drawcards. The new Australia brand must have an ‘‘unashamedly commercial focus’’, says federal Trade Minister Simon Crean; the aim is to promote Australia as place to visit, do business and invest.
has that sagging feeling, and not just because she hasn’t started the day with fibre-rich cereal.
Tourism Australia’s $40m ‘‘Where the bloody hell are you?’’ campaign, conceived during the dying years of the John Howard government, was a blinking disaster, as any bloody fool could have seen from the start, even when it was changed to the lame ‘‘So, why don’t you come?’’ for those delicate markets unimpressed by Aussie larrikin language.
Kevin Rudd has described it as a disaster that ‘‘failed to deliver any major benefits’’. The only winner appears to have been the campaign’s perky spokesmodel Lara Bingle who, once she’d washed out her mouth with soap, catapulted to A-list celeb status and scored herself the Australian cricket team’s deputy captain Michael Clarke. Well, that’s splendid for Bing-a-ding and Pup but of not much bally use to the average hotelier or crocodile park owner.
Brands and slogans are odd things; the best are deceptively simple but strangely persuasive. ‘‘Malaysia. Truly Asia’’ has a rhythmic quality that works, and who can resist alliteration even when the message borders on the banal: ‘‘Surprising Singapore’’ or ‘‘Incredible India’’, for instance. The new ‘‘Korea Sparkling’’, however, is a bit of a fizzer.
Other grabs that work include those for Costa Rica: ‘‘No artificial ingredients’’; and Switzerland: ‘‘Get natural.’’ But let’s not think this branding fandango is something new.
The National Library of Australia has in its collection of pen-and-ink drawings a 1982 George Molnar cartoon that suggests: ‘‘Sydney! The Crime Capital of Australia! What a slogan for promoting tourism!’’ ( pick for the beleaguered NSW capital in 2009? ‘‘Sydney. You’re Welcome to It.’’) And often a touch of naughtiness helps, such as the mega-successful ‘‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’’ campaign that revitalised the Nevada casino city’s tourism fortunes earlier this decade. The worst are so cliche-ridden and ephemeral as to be meaningless: how many Lands of Smiles are out there or permutations of Pearls (and Jewels)?
AUSTRALIA has a particular fascination for categorising its coastlines. Tourists are lured by the promise of Pearl, Sapphire, Sunshine, Coral, Discovery or Marlin stretches of beaches and cliffs; bold and brave Victoria even has a Shipwreck Coast and the Gold Coast has got into the snazzy GC groove. Ballina on the NSW north coast promises to ‘‘take your breath away’’, which may not appeal to its potential retiree market. Hong Kong had the same slogan, until it didn’t quite chime with the SARS epidemic of 2003.
THE most successful example of nation branding has to be the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign, which was launched in 1999 with an apparent bottomless-pit global advertising and marketing campaign. This simple slogan suggests not just environmental purity but a core cohesiveness about the people and the place. The NZ message is flexible, too, easy to apply to any number of experiences and exports. (On a regional level, Kiwi tourism boffins seem less inspired. Somehow the notion of Rotorua as Sulphur City doesn’t have that gotta-go pull.)
IN the US, where every state has a slogan proudly displayed on car numberplates and tourism collateral, the acknowledged all-time successes are ‘‘I Love New York’’, with its red heart shorthand, and ‘‘Virginia is for Lovers’’, which turns 40 this year; in 2002, the
does like a subversive approach as in (insert name of place and colon) ‘‘Not as bad as it looks.’’ In 2004 Tourism Australia had the bright idea to use celebrities to promote Down Under to the world. Cricket commentator Richie Benaud and poet Les Murray were among the identities used; good chaps they may be, but as tourism drawcards? Heck, no. The denizens of the blogosphere reacting to Crean’s present call overwhelmingly reject jingoism and the trotting out of folk heroes: Paul Hogan’s day is well and truly done, but perhaps not Baz Luhrmann’s.
Tourism Australia is reputed to be signing off a new blockbuster advertising campaign in the slipstream of the marketing blitz built around Luhrmann’s outback epic can see Hugh Jackman sans shirt, she can see more of those soft-focus ads of tourists stranded in trees (wondering how the bloody hell they can get down, perhaps), she can see. . . Well, hopefully can see something better than the heavyhanded ‘‘Germany: The Travel Destination’’. In 2007, it cost the Scottish government the equivalent of $300,000 to come up with: ‘‘Welcome to Scotland.’’ Even if it were spruiked by the smooth-talking likes of John Hannah or Ewan McGregor, you’d just want to yawn your tartan socks off.
Well, that’s done. The federal government can have Welcome to Australia for free. Or take inspiration from the Greek tourism toffs: ‘‘Greece beyond words.’’ Or pay a handful of smackers for this great tip — just kidnap the Kansas state motto: ‘‘As big as you think.’’ See y’all at the cultural crossroads, where east meets west and it’s 100% pure bulldust.
DEALS OF THE WEEK
Early-booking discounts in Tasmania; Sal Salis eco-safari camp on sale; St Petersburg for less; Oman specials. These and other money-saving offers are featured in holiday deals, updated daily: