‘Bloody hell’ indeed

Australia doesn’t need a new “brand” – but a new way of thinking about promoting the brand we have wouldn’t go astray. MICHEL HOGAN

Michel Hogan

By Michel Hogan

According to an article in The Age this past Sunday, Australian tourism is in the doldrums with first-time visitor numbers going backwards and even the Prime Minister categorising the current campaign a dismal reflection of Oz abroad.

But all is not lost! A new “brand” is on its way, with the coming announcement of the new advertising agency.

What a load of rubbish!

Like the many Australians who travel overseas every year, and having just returned from a recent trip, I can tell you our “brand” is doing just fine thanks. There was hardly one person I talked to while away who did not express either a desire to visit Australia, or fond memories of a past trip here.

Australia is an international icon – awareness isn’t really our problem. We have great name recognition and terrific word of mouth. So what’s going on?

The days of success via one killer ad campaign such as Paul Hogan and that shrimp on the BBQ, and Foster’s “Australian for beer”, have long past. New times call for not just new approaches, but multiple ways to spread the word. Maybe the problem is not just the message but also the medium(s)?

Each of the three different suggested tactics presented in the article had merit and took a step outside the expected. In turn they were a retail store, movie and web site… here’s an even more radical idea – let’s do all three, hook them together so they leverage each other.

It was hopeful that each of the people presenting ideas acknowledged that we need more than just another ad campaign. As anyone in business knows, today the effectiveness of traditional advertising is on the wane, and in other parts of the world (the parts where we are trying to get visitors to come from) that shift is even greater than here. Just taking an ad campaign and putting it into traditional media avenues of TV, print and radio with a sprinkling of internet doesn’t cut it anymore.

Einstein was right on the money: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Now I might be wrong (and I often am) and just switching to a new ad agency could bring a fresh approach – there are some brilliant creative groups out there doing great work. They might come up with not just a new campaign, but a new way of thinking about how to promote this great country of ours…

But, here is my question and my challenge to Tourism Australia. We have great stories to tell, unique places and memorable characters, an international well-spring of affection and a diverse community as creative as anywhere in the world – surely we can come up with something better to represent and promote our country than just another ad campaign?

How about instead of handing millions of dollars to an international ad agency, you build a “creative council” made up of people representing the full diversity and ingenuity of our creative community. Ask them to put together a program that takes the great work being done across a myriad of areas in business, arts and culture, science, technology and community, and build a diverse web of information and promotion that fully represents “brand Australia”.

See you next week!


Alignment is Michel’s passion. Through her work with Brandology here in Australia, and Brand Alignment Group in the United States, she helps organisations align who they are, with what they do and say to build more authentic and sustainable brands.

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