Aussie tourism ad 'enough to make you cringe'

By Greg Ansley

A screenshot from the  There's Nothing Like Australia  ad.
A screenshot from the There's Nothing Like Australia ad.

CANBERRA - At least there is some kind of consistency.

For the past couple of decades or so the Aussies have been selling themselves to the world through barbies, beaches and, most recently, Laura Bingle and her bloody questions.

Now, if you listen to the critics, Australia is bogan city.

This week Tourism Australia unveiled its new international marketing campaign, based on a 90-second television advertisement that features Aussies singing - in erratic keys - about themselves and their country.

There are kangaroos, koalas, beaches, mountains, billabongs, camels, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and pubs.

And throughout there are ordinary blokes and sheilas enthusiastically pounding out the specially written theme song, There's Nothing Like Australia.

Among the commentariat at least, it has gone down like the proverbial lead balloon, harking back to the crass old days of Paul Hogan and his barbecued shrimps.

"What the bloody hell were they thinking," wrote Rick Feneley in the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Tourism Australia's latest advertisement for the global market, if you listen to its critics, casts us as a nation of tone-deaf bogans caught in a 70s time-warp in which kangaroos get around in herds rather than mobs."

News.com.au said that while Tourism Australia had hoped to overcome the memory of Bingle's much-criticised "Where the bloody hell are you" campaign by creating an ad that was not divisive or polarising, Australians either loved or hated its latest attempt.

Jonathan Green, editor of the ABC's The Drum, asked why he was still cringing under his desk after watching the new campaign.

"Do the people at Tourism Australia actually live here?

"Did they just read about it in a book? Maybe they pieced it together from bits of Croc Dundee II ...

"What is Australia?

"Seems it's tuneless, cultureless and stuffed with sedated monotremes.

"It's a beach, a burst of fireworks, a reef waist deep in fish and a cheesy checklist of ethnicity.

"Why is there a white baby grand piano on the beach? Did the dolphins put it there?"

Not everyone agrees.

A lot of Australians quite like the way they come across.

Tourism Australia said market research had found that nine out of 10 Australians had felt "proud and engaged" after seeing the commercial.

A Daily Telegraph internet poll reported that 35.46 per cent of respondents did not like the ad but 40.8 per cent thought it was good, and 23.74 per cent did not really like it but thought it was better than previous attempts.

Opinion was divided on Fairfax's websites.

Supporters attacked criticism from the "pseudo cultural elite" and the "inner city intelligentsia chattering classes".

Others disagreed.

"Cringe Aussies cringe," wrote one.

"Now I'm thinking of leaving," wrote another.

"Who were those people? What have they been taking?"

- NZ Herald

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