A dynamic new ad is at the heart of Tourism Australia’s “There’s nothing like Australia” campaign. Indeed, there’s a moment in the 60-second ad that hits the issue square and captures a powerful conversion from apprehension to acquiescence.
In the scene, a couple is river cruising past Melbourne’s Yarra waterfront when a series of torches ignite rather explosively. For a nano-second, the woman is frightened and pulls her partner closer and then we see in her beautiful face a painting of realization, that in Australia what seems frightening from afar is the very stuff that enriches us up close. That self-realization and fulfillment are always a little daunting. Then we see in her face a savoring of the rich mysteries of traveling in Australia. “It’s like love,” the original soundtrack serenades in the background, “you can feel it in your heart.”
The ad shows just how far Australia’s tourism marketing has come since the days of Paul Hogan. Tourism Australia is no longer stressing the unpretentious down home side of Australia that Americans presumably could relate themselves to when they travel. Instead, this new Australia is an utterly exotic destination of mesmerizing and mysterious landscapes.
The 33rd annual Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) took place June 15-21 in Perth, and some 700 buyers have now returned to their 40 odd countries around the world. ATE featured two separate modules covering the Eastern and Western hemisphere tourism markets. It had been a few years since my last ATE and I came away more impressed than I have been since the days of the run ups to the 2000 Sydney Olympics, when the old Australian Tourism Commission seemed to have the very brightest marketing minds in the country working for it.
The new “There’s Nothing Like Australia” campaign was put together by Andrew McEvoy, Tourism Australia’s managing director, and Nick Baker, executive general manager of consumer marketing. The cinematography of new ad has that same quality of epic beauty that many will remember from the film “Out of Africa” as Meryl Streep and Robert Redford follow a flock of flamingos as they fly in a small plane across the breathtaking Kenyan outback. Though there are no flamingos in the Australian ad, there’s a brilliant scene where a small kangaroo hops across the sand on Kangaroo Island to snuggle with a young girl.
While the new ad isn’t just about nature -- Sydney Harbor slides smoothly next to the wilds of the Kimberley, Uluru and several islands of the Great Barrier Reef as well as Tasmania’s Freycinet Peninsula -- it has the look of freshness and frontier. It’s all an adventure.
Though the ad was played non-stop on screens all around the convention center throughout the entire length of the ATE, you could never tire of it. It made me want to go to Australia even though I was already in Australia. Tourism Australia is investing $175 million over the next three years into the campaign and hopes to reap another $68 million from industry partners in the campaign. According to McEvoy, it was important to work closely with those partners since he wanted a campaign that they would feel comfortable using in their individual marketing plans. “If you love your brand, set it free and let other people use it,” McEvoy says.
And those partners are using it. In just two years Tourism Australia has attracted more than 200 private industry partners to its campaign. “We are in the middle of a three year A$4 million (US$4.02 million) memorandum of understanding with Tourism Australia and the ‘There’s Nothing Like It’ campaign,” says Stephen Thompson, general manager for Qantas. “It’s essential to have a unified voice for Australia, especially overseas. So we’ll run our campaigns through theirs.”
In just three weeks the ad has been downloaded eight million times and has been viewed 175,000 times on YouTube and 240,000 times on Australia.com. In other words, in the world of social media, people are lining up to watch Tourism Australia’s commercial. It also bears mention that Tourism Australia’s Facebook page, with 3 three million “friends,” has the largest following of any tourism organization’s Facebook page. Las Vegas with 800,000 Facebook friends is a distant second.
“Our role is to tell the nation’s stories. We are story tellers,” says Baker. “The core of our business is words and images and social media just gives us a new medium to work in. Using it we can hijack news stories. When the Super Moon happened in early May we put a beautiful shot of it up over Tasmania’s Freycinet Peninsula on our Facebook page and within three hours, 150 more shots came in from our friends and within 24 hours we had three million viewers looking at it. We successfully put our message in a bigger story using social media.”
James Ruggia is executive editor covering Asia Pacific and Europe for TravelPulse.com. This is the second of three columns developed at the Australian Tourism Exchange in Perth.