Bland Australia

It seems like ever since Paul Hogan told the world he would “put another shrimp on the barbie” we have been in a desperate and mostly unsuccessful search to recapture the lightning in a bottle that was.

The latest foray to be unleashed on the world at large is the unremarkable and quickly parodied “There’s nothing like Australia”.

Not to be a grump, but for the price tag ($20 million over four years) I had hoped for something with a bit more… well something more than this bland campaign line.

Apart from dodgy grammar, unnecessary underline and the fact that you could insert the name of any country or city and it would be just as true, it totally lacks anything connecting it to an Australian sensibility. Even the much maligned “Where the bloody hell are you” campaign felt more authentic.

Ironically, but probably not surprisingly, the parody website that sprang up just a short time after the campaign launch captures more genuine Australian spirit than the official version. Irreverent, politically incorrect and very funny, it’s much closer to Paul Hogan and his famous shrimp than the carefully packaged official campaign (a fact Tourism Australia seems to grasp by deciding not to shut down the interloper).

Even the crux of the campaign (which the copy line is just the entry to) as promoted on the website, feels generic. The website asks people to go online and share their favorite holiday places and experiences, which will then be used in the global campaign. Anything that engages people and gets them involved can’t be all bad, but it is hardly a new idea and in this age of social media how not to get people to jump in is more the issue (see above parody website).

I think my biggest issue with the new campaign line and idea in general, is that Australia is much more than a collection of very pretty places. There is a distinct sensibility in the people and culture here. That’s what the original Paul Hogan campaign tapped into. And while the words might have changed again, in reality this is just the same idea that every recent tourism campaign seems to have used, albeit repackaged for the Web 2.0 age.

All in all, I can’t help but think the government and Tourism Australia might have been better just dusting off and remaking the original Paul Hogan campaign. Maybe Hugh Jackman could step in as spokesman…

See you next week.

Michel Hogan is a Brand Advocate. Through her work with Brandology here in Australia and in the United States, she helps organisations recognise who they are and align that with what they do and say, to build more authentic and sustainable brands. She also publishes the Brand thought leadership blog –Brand Alignment.



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