Tourism Australia pauses new campaign indefinitely in the wake of bushfire crisis

Tourism Australia’s effort to emulate the success of its ‘Dundee’ campaign has been temporarily derailed by the bushfire crisis

Tourism Australia’s effort to emulate the success of its ‘Dundee’ campaign has been temporarily derailed by the bushfire crisis.

The organisation has indefinitely paused its Kylie Minogue-led ‘Matesong’ campaign, which was airing in the UK, as Australia battles unprecedented bushfires across the country, after admitting the timing was ‘unfortunate’.

In October last year, Tourism Australia evolved its long-standing and successful ‘There’s nothing like Australia’ global campaign platform as part of a deliberate shift to elevate and tap into the Australian personality. 

The new $15 million global campaign, ‘Come Live our Philausophy’, invites the world 'Down Under' to experience first-hand the uniquely Australian way of life. 

A deliberately Australian play on words, Philausophy aims to capture the philosophy of Australians and their informal approach to living, which research showed is appealing for visitors.

Tourism Australia said Philausophy builds on strong foundations established in recent years through successive campaigns which have highlighted key destination strengths, such as food and wine, aquatic and coastal experiences, and nature and wildlife. 

Key components of the new campaign include: New creative assets for all Tourism Australia markets; content strategy, including a book featuring well-known Australian and their stories, a series of industry videos and bespoke editorial stills and social content; bespoke activations in key markets; partnerships and distribution activity;  and a refresh of Australia.com.  

However, almost immediately following the launch, bushfires raged across Australia on an unprecedented scale, causing Tourism Australia to reassess its strategy.

“We will be connecting with industry and State Government partners more in coming weeks regarding the bushfires and the pathway forward for our sector,” it said in a statement.

“Given the widespread international coverage, we are focussed on developing an approach to minimise any impact on tourism, and to protect and build Australia's reputation as an international tourism destination.

“Like all Australians our sympathies go out to the families and communities who are impacted by the fires, and our gratitude grows stronger by the day for the front line services facing the fires head on.

“Whilst bushfires continue to impact parts of Australia, many areas are unaffected and most tourism businesses are still open. It is more important than ever that we rally around our communities and the tourism sector who may have been impacted.

“We would encourage all travellers coming to Australia to seek the most up to date information prior to departure, and remain informed about changing conditions whilst on the ground.

“Travellers are also encouraged to speak with local tourism operators and staff at local Visitor Information Centres for advice about local conditions and how best to enjoy their time in Australia.”

As part of the campaign, Minogue delivered a special message to the United Kingdom (UK) on Christmas Day 2019 titled Matesong, aimed at enticing more Brits Down Under. 

It is the largest investment Tourism Australia has made in the UK in more than a decade and the light-hearted musical tribute represents a symbolic hand of friendship from Australia that warmly celebrates the deep and longstanding ties that exist between the two countries.

Matesong premiered on British television directly before the Queen’s annual Christmas Day address.

With original lyrics written by Australian singer-songwriter Eddie Perfect and filmed against a backdrop of Australian locations, the three-minute ad premiered on British TV as millions tuned in for the Queen’s annual Christmas Day message.

Helping Kylie deliver the musical tribute is Australian comedian and TV presenter Adam Hills, supported by cameo appearances from Australian sporting legends Shane Warne, Ash Barty and Ian Thorpe; model twins Zac and Jordan Stenmark; UK-born chef Darren Robertson from Three Blue Ducks; and the Aboriginal Comedy Allstars. 

"Matesong is performed by Kylie Minogue and comedian Adam Hills, who extend the hand of mateship that exists between Brits and Australians with a light-hearted invitation to come Down Under," Australia’s Federal Tourism Minister, Simon Birmingham, said.  

"A three-minute musical tribute, Matesong invites Brits to take a break from all the happenings with the UK and head Down Under to have a cracking time and experience all that Australia has to offer. 

"Britain is such an important market for Australia, it’s our fourth largest market with more than 718,000 Brits spending $3.4 billion in Australia over the last year.  

"British tourists traditionally stay longer and spend more than other international travellers, on average staying 32 nights in Australia and spending close to $5,000 per trip.  

"It’s no secret that the UK has been going through a period of uncertainty, and this has had an impact on outbound travel, including to Australia where numbers have dipped in recent months.     

"It is crucial that we continue to drive growth from this market, both first timer travellers but also repeat visitors whose familiarity means that they are more likely to want to travel further and deeper into our regions.  

"This campaign is about reminding Brits that Australia is a diverse and welcoming destination that still offers all the things that they love about our country, from our white sandy beaches to our native animals and our famous laidback outdoor lifestyle," he said. 

The British television premiere of Matesong followed several weeks of teaser ads urging Brits to tune in on Christmas Day to see Kylie’s message, scheduled for immediately before the Queen’s annual Christmas Day message.   

Tourism Australia managing director, Phillipa Harrison, said Christmas Day presented the perfect opportunity to capture the attention of millions of Brits.  

"The Queen’s annual Christmas Day message is a key cultural moment in the UK, with millions tuning in to watch on television and many more online,” she said.

"We also know January in the northern hemisphere winter is a time when many Brits are thinking about an overseas holiday, providing the perfect opportunity to engage with a captive audience and remind them why they should make that next trip Australia. 

"And who better to deliver the message than Kylie Minogue. She embodies so much of what we want to share with the world – our warm, fun and friendly personality. Not only does she have a deep and authentic connection with Australia, but she is a much loved and recognised icon in the UK as well.” 

Minogue said it was an honour to work alongside Tourism Australia to share Australia with people from her adopted UK home. 

"Filming the Matesong music video was literally a dream come true. I've had the opportunity to see parts of the country I haven’t seen before, as well as to go home and revisit places that I know are beautiful," she said. 

"I'm such a proud Australian that I’ve spent most of my life travelling around the world sharing my stories of Australia with anyone who would listen, so I kind of feel like a walking tourism advert for Australia already."

The campaign is the first since Tourism Australia announced its new CMO, Susan Coghill, who replaced Lisa Ronson who left the organisation in March last year. 

Coghill said the Matesong campaign was part of a deliberate move to elevate the strengths of Australia’s people, personality and way of life. 

"Our research supports what we in Australia all instinctively know – that the Australian way of life is unique on the world stage and incredibly appealing to people visiting our great country,”she said. 

"It's these strengths that set us apart and which we’ve sought to capture with a campaign delivered in a big media moment and in a creative way we think will resonate in the UK and entice more of our British mates to visit us Down Under.” 

After the initial airing, the campaign was scheduled to run on British television and in cinemas, across digital and social platforms, and through out of home advertising.  However, a spokesperson confirmed to the ABC yesterday some of the campaign is paused indefinitely.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.    

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