Tourism Australia’s latest campaign masterpiece

December 1, 2019

In my book Rebranding Branding, I discuss Tourism Australia’s scandalous 2006 campaign, ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ 

In that campaign, Tourism Australia badly misjudged the sensibilities of foreigners to what we consider playful language. Coming from a culture that considers the Brits overly formal, how could Tourism Australia be surprised they’d take offence? As a result, our foul language received more attention than our flora and fauna.

Now, a decade and a half later, the’ve done it again, with their awful ‘Come live our philausophy’ campaign.

There’s lots to criticise here, including the trite images of beach towels and kangaroos, or meaningless taglines like: ‘A stranger is a mate you haven’t met yet’ and: ‘The friends you make, make you’, but I’m going to focus on the core of the campaign, one of the bloodiest awful words ever to appear on a whiteboard: philausophy.  

First, I don’t think the word philosophy ever sold a plane ticket. There are people who travel for food, for nature, for art and history, but unless you wrote your thesis on Kant, this is as offputting a tourism term as you can imagine. I don’t know about you, but my word association brought up: libraries, serious people, shhh!

Not to mention, we don’t have famous philosophers here. In fact, it’s probably one of the things we are least known for. 

Second, the play on words, using AU for Australia instead of O, looks AUful.

Third, it’s obviously trying too hard. The key to marketing is to look and sound natural and to use your messaging to reference what you’re trying to sell. 

Finally, why do we even need these bloody campaigns? With close to 10 million tourists visiting Australia per year (and growing), we seem to be doing just fine.  

Political irony aside, we consistently rate at or near the top in travel magazines for our cities, activities and hotels. Melbourne was rated the second most livable city in the world for 2019, with Sydney close behind. 

Instead of going into the dictionary business, Tourism Australia should spend its budget reflecting what the tourists who have already been here think of us.

Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor

MD & Head of Strategy and Research

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