sand and salesmanship - 17th April 2004
The Sydney Morning Herald)
It will take more than Hoges and
a friendly "G'day" to fire up our troubled
tourism industry, write Anthony Dennis and Julian
Paul Hogan, drenched in Sydney sunshine and standing
in the otherwise off-limits grounds of Kirribilli
House, called a prawn a shrimp, he not only put
a crustacean on a barbecue, he put Australia on
the tourism map. In the two decades since, Australia's
international visitor numbers have increased from
fewer than a million a year to about 5 million.
the same time, the international tourism market
has also grown and become much more competitive.
Since the 1980s tourism has become increasingly
important economically to more countries, especially
in Asia where hundreds of millions of dollars
are spent annually promoting national brands.
And with each global or regional crisis there's
even more spending.
in less than a month, the Australian Tourist Commission
will launch the biggest and most expensive tourism
marketing drive since those first Hogan ads of
1983. Twenty-one years on, the impact of that
shrimp - though among the most powerful messages
in Australian advertising history - has well and
truly waned. And to some extent, so has the inbound
tourism industry, battered by a series of shocks
since its zenith at the time of the Sydney Olympics.
appeal of the Hogan campaign was not a prawn and
a barbecue but rather the sunny invitation to
"come and say g'day". Today's message
would have to be more insistent, what with the
effects of September 11, SARS, the avian flu,
the Ansett collapse, conflict in Iraq and the
pervasive threat of terrorism.
was a systemic complacency from everywhere about
tourism that was completely shaken by September
11," says Joe Hockey, the federal Minister
for Small Business and Tourism. "That one
day killed the volume factor and the thin margins
that the industry had operated on no longer became
tourism remains a $70 billion industry, accounting
for nearly 5 per cent of Australia's GDP in 2001-2002.
are so many overseas destinations promoting themselves
that they have all metamorphosed into what one
senior industry player describes as "one
big place called 'Holiday"' with one destination
almost indistinguishable from another. And with
static marketing budgets for some years, Australia's
voice has been muted.
some 500,000 Australians employed in tourism,
governments are increasingly cognisant of the
potential economic and political costs of an ailing
industry. The industry has suffered three consecutive
years of negative growth which has only recently
turned around. But the prospect of another crash
is never far from the minds of tourism chiefs.
last year the Howard Government threw the sector
a lifeline of $235 million as part of a restructuring
of the embattled industry. The money is spread
over more than four years with $120 million earmarked
for international marketing, topping up the ATC's
existing $90 million annual budget.
challenge is for Australia to distinguish itself
in a crowded market. After more than a year, the
ATC believes it's redefined what Australia stands
for. The pitch of the new series of commercials
remains confidential until a launch in Sydney
next month. However, the minister reckons "proud
Australians" will shed a tear. "But
I don't just want glossy ads and froth and bubble.
What we need is to promise and [then to] over-deliver."
commercials, many featuring well-known Australians,
will be first aired in Britain, Singapore and
Italy. "It's the first major investment in
brand Australia for a decade," says Stephen
O'Neill, the ATC's marketing chief.
like to see something that really plays to our
strengths ... what we as Australians are all about,"
says Nicholas Davie, chief executive of Publicis
Mojo and one of the team which created the original
Hogan ads. He argues that tourists will travel
across the world only for something they can't
get on their own doorstep. Davie says that the
current "Have You Ever" campaign, which
praises our beaches, shopping and food, does little
to promote what he calls the "creative touchpoints"
that distinguish Australia like our open and friendly
people and their sense of humour. "All they
[tourists] are getting at the moment is a Europe
of the southern hemisphere," he says. "What's
theme of the new campaign is understood to centre
on elusive-sounding "brand values" of
land, light and life, qualities that, based on
research, the ATC and its advertising agency believe
reflect Australia's point of difference.
debate over whether to just bring out the kangaroos
and koalas or to present a more modern and sophisticated
image is perennial. There is a recognition that
Australia needs to move on. But to what?
Hogan campaign introduced Australia to the world,"
says O'Neill. "We're not trying to compete
with it but we do now need to build on a broader
awareness and knowledge of Australia among prospective
ATC's attempt four years ago to reprise Hogan
- together with a cuddly koala - was criticised
as projecting an outdated "ocker" image.
The Herald labelled it an insult to "assume
the only images of Australia that Americans can
comprehend are bushbashers and cuddly animals".
ghost of Hogan is still stalking them," says
Tom McFarlane, creative director at M&C Saatchi.
"They can't avoid it. I think Americans would
be slightly disappointed if they came [to Australia]
and we weren't a little bit cheeky, cocky and
a bit like Steve Irwin. I know I would."
trick, says McFarlane, is to distil the essence
of what Australia is and build a brand, much like
he did when he created the 100% Pure New Zealand
ads that make that land's rugged scenery the "hero"
of the campaign. This hugely successful campaign
- underpinned by The Lord of the Rings trilogy
shot in New Zealand - has consolidated the country's
"clean and green" image.
measure of that uncertainty confronting tourism
are the revised expectations for visitor numbers.
In the heady days after the Olympics, the Tourism
Forecasting Council predicted 10 million visitors
by 2010: that has now been reduced to just 6.9
million in six years' time and 7.7 million in
will need more on the barbie than just a few shrimps.
Sydney Morning Herald
Tourist Commission (Australia.com)
Tourist Commision (ATC Online)
head north, by Greg Tingle
come out to play
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Coast developers prepare for Mexican wave
Hub of live entertainment in Sydney, by Greg Tingle
& Yvette Moore
Promoters "down under", by Greg Tingle
Great Aussie Promoters, by Greg Tingle
Rackman ("Donk" in Crocodile Dundee)
Young (Star of "Cosy Cool)