How Tourism Australia's CMO combined data, gut, creativity and bravery to deliver its new global campaign

Susan Coghill talks to CMO about how the team landed on the latest 'Come and says G'Day' campaign, Ruby the kangaroo and its audience approach

Foundational research, a classic approach to the marketing funnel, commitment to bold creative and a healthy dose of career bravery lie behind Tourism Australia’s latest global campaign, its CMO, Susan Coghill, says.

Tourism Australia officially took the wrappers off its new global campaign, ‘Come and say G’day’ on 19 October after previewing its new animated Australian mascot, Ruby, at an event led by the Minister for Trade and Tourism, Senator the honourable Don Farrell, in Tokyo last week.

The campaign is firmly aimed at attracting high-yielding international travellers back to Australian shores after pandemic lockdowns and conditions. Its brand cues and welcoming message are pitched as the next instalment in a series of welcoming and emotive campaigns going back to Australia’s Paul Hogan in the iconic tourism advertising of the 1980s.

The ’Come and say G’day’ campaign rolls out across 15 international markets from 20 October 2022, including Japan, the US and UK. It’s a multi-channel campaign, led by a short film directed by Michael Gracey and produced by Finch, and TVC (60, 30 and 15-second versions). It’s also extending across out-of-home, print, social, digital, editorial and partner advertising.

The key element in the campaign is the new CGI animated souvenir kangaroo, Ruby, voiced by Australian actress, Rose Byrne. The creative focuses on Ruby’s back story as well as journey to iconic locations across the country alongside a second CGI character, Louie, a toy unicorn voiced by the decidedly raspy Will Arnett. The creative will be localised for specific markets, and Tourism Australia has confirmed Ruby’s voice will be done by Japanese actress, Maryjun Takahashi, for example.

To further deliver distinctiveness and an Australian quality to the narrative, Tourism Australia worked with local brand, King Stingray, on a re-interpretation of Men at Work’s classic song, Down Under. The singing is done in both English and Yolnu Matha, the Indigenous language from North East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.

In the lead-up to the global launch and film premiere, held in New York, Ruby has been hopping across billboards in multiple countries.

Credit: TA

Coghill well knows the decision to take a different approach to destination marketing and adopt an animated brand ambassador character is a brave one. But she notes the wealth of research backing it up as well as the need to cut through the sea of sameness as Australia truly opens its arms to international visitors.

“It’s a very different way to do destination marketing, a completely new direction for Tourism Australia, and I’m sure it will be the source of much debate,” she told CMO. “But creating a unique and distinctive way to tell our story in international markets, that will cut through the clutter, has never been more important with the tourism landscape more competitive than ever. And we know from research and the initial launch of Ruby in Japan, how much cut-through our animated kangaroo will drive now, and for years to come.”

Here, Coghill talks to CMO about the 18 months of planning leading up to the global campaign launch and what it has taken as a marketing leader to actually deliver it.

CMO: A lot of research has gone into formulating what is clearly a different strategy and direction for Tourism Australia. How much have you relied on data versus instinct for this campaign?

Susan Coghill: It’s been in three parts – it’s gut, data, gut. You come up with the hypothesis around how you address a marketing challenge; you go out and search for data to help validate or help support your position; then it’s ultimately around using your well-developed, well-honed gut based on years of experience and intuition to make a call.

This campaign is very reflective of that. We needed something that’s new, unique and different. We needed something unmistakable, distinctly and uniquely Australian. We know when it comes to tourism marketing, there is misattribution and it’s a very cluttered category. We wanted an idea you could not mistake for another set of beautiful beaches, food or wine.

But going into that, I’m a big believer in the research inputs into the beginning of a process and making sure you get the data points and insights upfront to inform the brief. We have done creative testing at the other end, which gives us confidence around how this will work. But we also invested over the past couple of years into foundational research, which helped inform the brief and our thinking, even at the executional stage.

Susan CoghillCredit: Tourism Australia
Susan Coghill

First of all, the question was: How are we performing across the marketing funnel? We don’t have established rules of growth in tourism marketing you see in other categories. You think about packaged goods, for example, or automotive – there are often rules those brands live by or even rules they know how to break, in a way.

We didn’t necessarily have those or find those existing in tourism marketing. So we went back and said let’s do that funnel analysis and understand how we are performing, for example, in consideration, and where we might be leaking through the rest of the funnel. We did this on a market-by-market basis while also making sure we looked at our competition. This provided us with a very clear position on where we’re standing and where we need to win.

This year, it’s about winning in consideration. It’s about making sure we are, after being closed for two years, we’re back within the top two three destinations for high-yielding consumers considering the next longhaul holiday. Even that gave us focus on what type of creative do we need, what type of storytelling and media strategy when we’re talking about winning in consideration, as well how we work with the rest of our partners through the funnel if we’re flying at the top of funnel, for example.

We also needed to understand what the drivers are of destination choice for longhaul holidays. Not why they pick Australia, but generally speaking, how are high-yielding travellers choosing to go on holiday. How do we then compare, and how do our competition compare against this? This has helped us inform what experiences we showcase across the breadth of communications.

What about your creative approach?

Landing distinctiveness was incredibly important in this campaign. Ensuring we are uniquely Australia, but again, what does that mean in the minds of consumers around the world? Positions two, three and four in our brand codes for Australia can move, but honestly, number one is kangaroos.

We are incredibly lucky as a nation we have this adorable, optimistic, unique animal that can embody us. And particularly when you turn it into a character of sorts – you can imbue it with the culture and character as well as everything already locked around the kangaroo.

Being creatively ambitious is another key principle for us. Making sure we develop ideas help us transcend our media budgets is vital. We never have enough money for what we need to do, so we need to make sure our ideas are surpassing that.

We have looked at attention metrics as well, working with UM and the Amplified Intelligence team led by Dr Karen Nelson-Field to create an ‘algorithm’ to bring attention metrics into our planning. It’s not just about reach and frequency but understanding most attentive reach for our audience in our markets.

We rebuilt our audience as well of high-yielding travellers. For a long time, we talked about ‘high-value travellers’, which was a kind of psychometric model around consumer behaviour. Now, we have built out models around what we are calling ‘high-yielding travellers’. We’re able to work with media owners around the world to put spend data against this for behavioural targeting. It makes what we are doing more actionable as we move down the funnel, working with our partners.

To what extent have the consumer behaviours and values you’re now working sustained behaviours driven by the pandemic? As you say, we have to rebuild Australia as a travel market, but there are also fresh travelling trends to emerge from this last two-and-a-half years.

SC: Certainly, some behaviours which have changed – shorter booking windows, willingness to pay for premium, meaningful experiences. But some things are enduring in what people want to see and experience, such as nature and wildlife.

We are well-placed on the one hand, because Australia offers great nature and wildlife, meaningful types of travel with meaningful, Indigenous tourism experiences. Our wide-open spaces feel a little safer, versus crowded destinations. This even came through some of our brand tracking. But there are also challenges we have to face into. This requires us to invest in our brand and building our value proposition.

The truth is, travellers at the moment are staying a little closer to home and doing shorter trips. We need to make sure they understand the real value and unique holidays they can have in Australia.

Taking such a new direction as a destination marketer takes bravery. When do you know as a CMO you can something bold step like this? Is it tenure, the experience you have had at TA to this point? Or the burning platform of re-establishing Australia?

SC: There is the immediacy of that. For me personally and in my career, I was lucky enough to work early on with Apple and was there literally as Steve Jobs came back to the business as it was on the emergency room table. I saw the decisions the company made around investing in the brand and creating the emotional connection, which was very formative. At first, with true believers and business partners, then ultimately building off that success to launching new products, bringing in new users and becoming the Apple we know today.

I understand the power of storytelling – this is incredibly important to me. I believe in the commercial value of a strong brand and great creative to drive commercial outcomes. During my time at BBH, we talked about creative being one of the last brand levers and unfair advantages a business has to beat the competition. Then at my time at Qantas, using the ‘Feels like home’ platform to reconnect with consumers after the public perhaps lost some affection for the brand was so powerful.

Emotional connection and bringing my experiences and thinking into what we are trying to do has been key. We have had a tough couple of years as a nation. The world has too. It’s a strange global experience and one of the only times we’ve experienced such a situation in living memory. Knowing we have such a wonderful product and experience, I need to use everything I have to get that story and belief in Australia and tourism industry across. The best mechanism we have is to be creative, get attention, cut through and reward people for watching and engaging in our marketing with great storytelling and great characters. Then ultimately, they’ll see the experience lives up to the advertising.

Several elements in this campaign require more investment and time from the consumer with brand Australia. How is this balanced against more targeted engagement?

SC: We have thought through the customer journey as well. For those who come in at the early stages and watch the film, they do get the entertainment and reward. For consumers in-market who don’t necessarily take the first hook, we have a clear understanding of the consumer journey and where those touchpoints are for us to intercept them – we can show them new content, for instance.

We have the short film and an amazing set of trailers supporting it, which are very movie-like and humorous. All the ad units go from full 60-seconds and loads of cut downs, then we have those passion points and pillars represented as well. If you are a food and wine enthusiast and haven’t engaged with the global campaign, we have a clever set of assets which will appear to this specific passion point. So if we don’t get them first with G’Day, we can engage those consumers at other points.

And if we do get them at first, we’re able to retarget, based on signals, where we see them and behavioural cues. We can come in with adventure messaging, or the outback. We have so much different vision and creative to supports this.

In addition to advertising, we’re making sure our media strategy lives up to the creative idea. We have Rose Byrne going on the Jimmy Fallon Show on the 26 October as part of an integration with NBC. This will be shared in the show’s social channels, which are huge and global.

How have you approached global versus local in each key market?

SC: It’s the first time we have done a global campaign since 2016. With all the borders open for the first time, we felt the need to be warm and welcoming to everybody, throw our arms about everyone, if you will, while ensuring we have a diversified approach to travel. Because consumer confidence is growing at different rates.

The US and UK are certainly must-win markets for us this year. There are about 20 million high-yielding travellers in the US, so the potential remains strong and it’s a very solid market for us where we have strong ties to visiting friends and family, as well as a dispersing market for us. We are excited about trying to focus on getting that market back on.

Japan was another massive market for us in the 1980s and 1990s, so turning that back on again is key as there are a lot of high-yielding travellers. We have great experiences and offering for them plus an industry set up to accommodate them. Singapore and Southeast Asia are also high repeat travellers.

Don’t miss out on the wealth of insight and content provided by CMO A/NZ and sign up to our weekly CMO Digest newsletters and information services here.  

You can also 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



Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

More Brand Posts



CMO's top 10 martech stories for the week - 9 June

Read more

Great e-commerce article!

Vadim Frost

CMO’s State of CX Leadership 2022 report finds the CX striving to align to business outcomes

Read more

Are you searching something related to Lottery and Lottery App then Agnito Technologies can be a help for you Agnito comes out as a true ...


The Lottery Office CEO details journey into next-gen cross-channel campaign orchestration

Read more

Thorough testing and quality assurance are required for a bug-free Lottery Platform. I'm looking forward to dependability.

Ella Hall

The Lottery Office CEO details journey into next-gen cross-channel campaign orchestration

Read more

Great Sharing thoughts.It is really helps to define marketing strategies. After all good digital marketing plan leads to brand awareness...

Paul F

Driving digital marketing effectiveness

Read more

Blog Posts

Marketing prowess versus the enigma of the metaverse

Flash back to the classic film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Television-obsessed Mike insists on becoming the first person to be ‘sent by Wonkavision’, dematerialising on one end, pixel by pixel, and materialising in another space. His cinematic dreams are realised thanks to rash decisions as he is shrunken down to fit the digital universe, followed by a trip to the taffy puller to return to normal size.

Liz Miller

VP, Constellation Research

Why Excellent Leadership Begins with Vertical Growth

Why is it there is no shortage of leadership development materials, yet outstanding leadership is so rare? Despite having access to so many leadership principles, tools, systems and processes, why is it so hard to develop and improve as a leader?

Michael Bunting

Author, leadership expert

More than money talks in sports sponsorship

As a nation united by sport, brands are beginning to learn money alone won’t talk without aligned values and action. If recent events with major leagues and their players have shown us anything, it’s the next generation of athletes are standing by what they believe in – and they won’t let their values be superseded by money.

Simone Waugh

Managing Director, Publicis Queensland

Sign in