What is going on at Tourism Australia?
Its disastrous, 2006 AU$180 million “So where the bloody hell are you?” campaign was banned in the UK for uttering the word, “bloody,” and banned in Canada for portraying excessive alcohol use. While plenty might say negative PR generates news and excitement, the “Bloody” campaign more likely encouraged hostel-hopping youth instead of families with money. And certainly anyone carrying matching sets of Louis Vuitton valises would have been put off by its message.
Then in 2006 the Australian government spent AU$100 million on global marketing for the movie, Australia, the most expensive tourism infomercial ever produced.* Even the director, Baz Luhrmann, acknowledged that,
“We opened badly in the US – the weekend where we went up against the Reese Witherspoon comedy (Four Holidays), we mis-communicated the film and we collectively failed to get a big audience in on the first weekend.”
Luhrmann even admits this may have cost Australia from getting an Oscar nomination, which would have been an enormous help in promoting the country.
So you’d think Australia Tourism would think really hard about how best to spend its citizens money on marketing and promotion, but what do they do? They pay AU$4 million to Harpo Productions to fly Oprah, her entourage and 300 of her American guests to visit Australia and tape four TV shows.
It’s a fraction of what they spent promoting Australian tourism in the past, but does this investment target the right audience?
Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy told the Australian federal senate that Oprah’s core audience demographic of middle-income women aged 25-54 was right at the heart of the audience Australia wanted to try to influence. According to McEnvoy,
“Those people are the decision makers in travel and tourism.”
Yes, they’re the decision makers but will middle-income American women choose to spend their limited American dollars on flying to an expensive destination or find something for less money that’s closer to home? Maybe even a stay-cation?
Oprah’s four Australia TV shows will get huge audiences and big ratings, and advertisers will pay plenty for airtime. But will Oprah inspire huge numbers of Americans to visit Australia? What do you think?
*Full Disclosure: I was at DDB Los Angeles when the agency worked on Baz Luhrmann’s Australia. However, I did not work on that account.
Posted at 12:18 pm on Sun, Dec 19, 2010
Sydney Opera House photo courtesy of