Throw in Terri Irwin, Kylie Minogue, Chris Hemsworth, Curtis Stone, Paul Hogan, billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes and even queen of the worn-out pun Kathy Lette, and it would appear that those charged with selling our multi-billion-dollar tourism industry to the world are reinventing the wheel.
The well-paid brains at ad agency M&C Saatchi came up with the Philausophy tagline, which is the latest in a long line of campaigns Tourism Australia has pitched to the world over more than 30 years.
Over that period Tourism Australia has ploughed hundreds of millions of dollars into marketing “Brand Australia”, and no doubt has learned much about how different parts of the world view our prospects as a holiday destination.
The latest approach appears to be focussed on the supposedly unique qualities of Australians under the banner “Come Live Our Philausophy”, rather than relying on our many wondrous attractions, which up to now have worked pretty well. Australia pulled in 8.6 million international visitors, aged 15 years and over, in the 12 months to June 2019 – 3 per cent more than the previous year.
But what exactly is Australia’s “philausophy”?
“The Australian character and way of life has long been woven into our marketing. The journey
perhaps began with Paul Hogan and Come Say G’Day. In more recent times Chris Hemsworth, our
global ambassador, has been integral in embodying the Australian character for our audiences,” explained Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison last Wednesday.
According to Tourism Australia’s own research, Australia is consistently ranked highly for being
friendly, warm and welcoming towards visitors.
But why “philausophy”?
Putting aside that such a word play is lost on many non-English speaking markets (China and India are among our two biggest markets), even for us Australians the term is bewildering.
Whatever happened to keeping it simple?
From Paul Hogan saying “G’day” to Lara Bingle yelling “Where the bloody hell are you?”, selling Australia to the world has taken a variety of guises over the years.
Hogan’s Feel The Wonder Down Under campaign ran from 1984 to 1989 and was a big hit, especially among English speaking markets like the United States, even though countless Americans have been confused to discover on arrival that no one actually barbecues “shrimps” here.
Thankfully our beaches and wildlife helped make up for it.
In 2004 the “Australia A Different Light” campaign was launched with a series of television ads revealing Australia “through the eyes” of individuals including singer Delta Goodrem, commentator and cricketing legend Richie Benaud, poet Les Murray, artists Barbara Weir and Brett Whiteley and media personality Jono Coleman.
In 2006 it was replaced with the Unique Australian Welcome, featuring Bingle and her famous “Where the Bloody Hell Are You?” line, along with the usual mix of sweeping images of perfect beaches and cute fauna.
Baz Luhrmann was wheeled into action in 2008, directing a short film called Come Walkabout which was leveraged off the back of his movie Australia and drew heavily on traditional indigenous culture.
In 2010 There’s Nothing Like Australia was launched, which has been running ever since and has incorporated other campaigns focussing on our gourmet offerings with the Restaurant Australia effort in 2015, and the arrival of Chris Hemsworth in 2016 in a campaign highlighting Australia’s aquatic and coastal attractions.
Up until now, all of the campaigns have had a clear message.
The new “Philausophy” campaign has been given a three-year life span.
We may well need that much time to make sense of it.
Andrew Hornery is a senior journalist and Private Sydney columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald.