Destination Marketing Tourism Australia's Controversia Campai n

This case is about an adl'ertising campaign slatted by Tourism Australia .in 2006, the controversies it created, and its eventual wjthdrawal. The case revolves CII'Ound the "So Where the Blood)' Hell Are You?" crunpaign that WQS witbdrown in early 2008.

Australian towism bad been facing:the unique problem wber« the interest shown b,I' the people in visiting the cOtlnlIy lVas not transloling into actual tourist inflows. The campaign was intended to solve this problem by translating the huge interest shown by the people to visi! Australia into actua] tourist injk» ... is. The theme o/the campaign was to invite the people to visit Australia and enjo]' the diverse range of experiences avoilabie there. The campaign was launched through multiple media channels and Australian model Lata Bingle was the face of the campaign. The campaign WClS developed after extensive marketing research and strove to target 'Experience Seekers'-eQI~Y adopters who played a major role in influencing the purchasing bebnvior of other people.

The campaign became controversial right from the time it was launched ami was even initially banned in some countries such as the UK and Canada. The campaign oltracted the wrath of the regulators in these countries because althe use afswear words such as 'Bloody' and 'Hell'. These words were par! of the Australian slang, but their use in the ad campaign nus perceived as offensive in same of the target markets. Tousistn Australia was criticizedfor not taking the cultural aspects into accoun t before developing an advenisiug campaignfOJ' the international markets_

In an increasingly competitive and tough commercial environment. we must be bold, aggressive, and distinctive to win the business. But we also must be eredible=u»: must be true in what we are as a destinatio« and focus on why the world loves us-and our marketing must be authentically and distinctively Australian ... This exciting new campaign provides a compelling and uniquely Australian inoitation to the world that celebrates our personolity, our lifestyle, and our place. It has been carefull,Y designed to cut through the clutter and motioate international tourists to stop putting it on' and visit Australia now. 1

- Scott Morrison. Managing Director,. Tourism Australia, on the controversial "So Wb.ere the Bloody Bell Al-e You?" campaign that was launched in 2006

"Tuurism AusLrali.8 Asks, 'So Where The Bloody Hell Ar~ You?'; Cheeky~ew Ad Campaign .. .," www.allbusiness.eom, February 23, 2006.

They [Asian visitors] didn't get the joke at all, it wasn't funny to them tohave this word bloody which can be a serious word to others. It came across as a demand for people to visit Australia, not an invitation and that's not at all culturally appropriate in many of the countries in which we are working to encourage people to come and see us:"

- Desley Boyle, Queensland's Tourism Minister, in 2007

In awareness, in some areas it was very good. But it seems from everything that we see and hear from the industry that it was not strong enough to really go on from here. 3

- Harold Mitchell, the Executive Chairman of the Mitchell Communication Group, in 2008

End of an Innovative and Controversial Campaign

In February 2008, Tourism Australia! announced that it was discontinuing its controversial advertisement campaign, "So Where the Bloody Hell Are You?" (Bloody Hell). The announcement put an end to the contentious campaign launched in 2006 by Tourism Australia, a statutory authority of the Government of Australia set up to promote the country as a tourist destination. Through the campaign, which featured well-known Australian model Lara Bingle (Bingle), Tourism Australia sought to promote Australia as a rough and wild, but friendly place for tourists. It said that the brand proposition of the campaign was, ''Australia invites you to get involved.?" The announcement of the campaign's withdrawal came amidst a fall in tourist numbers attributed to the fact that the Australian Dollar (A$)6 was growing stronger.

The advertisement campaign received wide media coverage and was also accessed online by many people. Though it was initially termed a success and as having helped spur tourists to visit the country, it proved controversial in some of the target markets. The use of the swear words 'Bloody' and 'Hell' particularly incensed many. However, Tourism Australia defended the use of the words, saying they were part of Australian slang and were intended to portray Australia as "warm, friendly, and inviting". The advertisement was banned in some countries like the UK and Canada. While the UK banned it for the use of the word 'bloody', Canada banned it for the opening line in the advertisement of the campaign, "We've bought

"'Bloody Hell' Tourism Ads 'Should Be Mothballed"', December 21, 2007.

Edmond Roy, "Tourism Australia Looks Beyond 'Controversial Campaign"', February 7, 2008.

Tourism Australia was formed in July 2004 by merging the Australian Tourism Commission, See Australia, the Bureau of Tourism Research and the Tourism Forecasting Council for marketing tourism in Australia both domestically and internationally.

As June 2008, US$1 was approximately equal to A$1.045 and €1 was approximately

equal to A$1.626. .

you a beer" which, it said, implied the consumption of unbranded alcohol. Singapore insisted that Tourism Australia remove the words 'bloody' and 'hell' before releasing the campaign in that country.

'The first year of the launch of the campaign saw an increase of A$L8 bn in tourist spending." However, some analysts believed that the campaign had failed to live up to expectations. Even as marketing experts remained divided in their opinion on the 'campaign's effectiveness, Tourism Australia decided to pun it out under pressure from various stakeholders and amidst concerns that the A$180 mn campaign was a complete failure. Analysts felt that the main reasons for its withdrawal were the controversy it sparked in its targeted markets and its failure to attract more tourists from some of the key markets. As of early 2008, Tourism Australia was under pressure from the government to take urgent steps to control the fall in tourist numbers. Tourism Australia said that a new advertising campaign would be launched very soon and that proper care would be taken to avoid .any controversies in its future campaigns.

History of Australian. Tourism

Australia is an island continent located in the earth's southern hemisphere comprising the world's smallest continent of Australia, the island of Tasmania, and a number of other small islands (Refer Exhibit I for a hrief note on Australia), Over the years, Australia made a name £:01' itself as a strong destination brand (Refer Exhibit II for a brief note on Destination branding).

- ---

Exhibit I: A Brief Note on Australia

The name 'Australia' was adopted from the latin word 'Australis' which means southern. Australia 15 the biggest island on earth and the sixth largest country in terms of land area. The capital of Australia is Canberra. Sydney arid Melbourne are Its other major cities. It has Indonesia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea to the north, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia to the north-east, and New Zealand to the south-east. Australia is a country famous for its biodiversity. Many of the species of plants, animals, and birds found there are not found anywhere else in the world.

The country is mostly uninhabited and most of its population lives near the coastline. The earlier inhabitants of the country were the Aboriginal people who migrated there fifty to sixty thousand years ago from Sou1h-East Asia. After the European discovery of Australia in 1606, the British colonized Auslralia in 1770 and the first settlement by Europeans took place at Port Jackson in the southeastern region of Australia, as a British penal colony in 1778.' During the 19'" century, the development of Australia was confined to a group of British colonies. In January 1901. after Australia gOl its independence from the UK, the federation of Austral ia was formed encompassing six states' and two territories' under a single constitution, the Commonwealth of Australia. Australia has been a constitutional monarchy with the Queen of Britain, Elizabeth II, as its monarch since February 6, 1952.'

"Australia," •. 2008.

The six states of Australia are New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia.

The territories are the Northern territory and the Australian Capital territory,!en

(Comd ... )

"Bingle Ad Rakes in ElL"ira $1.8 bn," March 8,. 2007.


Australia entered the period of growthafter1945. Many refugees and migrants arrived in the post World War II period and cQI1trinuted to the developrrrent of the economv.' Nearly 6.5 million people immigrated to'Australia in the planned post-war immigration from over 2{)0 countries." Manufacturing became the key growth sector of the 'country, The 19505 and 1 9605'5aw a period of continued strong economic growth with major projects like the.Snqwv Mountains Scheme, a hydroelectric project Australia hosted the Olympic Games of 1956 in MelbQume,

In the ,,97as, Australia experienced major modifications in its economic and social policies and extensive Improvements in the social security, foreign affairs, industrial relations, and health and education sectors, In ,'975, a constitutional crisis surfaced in the country when the Labor government was dismissed by the Governor-General, This resulted in a defeat for l.abor and, until 1983, the Uberal-Natlonal Coalition ruled Australia,

The 19905 saw Australia experiencing an economic growth of about 33% a yeartThis strong economic growth was due to its low rate of inflatipn coupled with decreasing levels of unemployment. In 2000, Australia hosted the Olympic Games for the second time in Sydney.

The Gross Domestic Product (COP) (in terms of purchastng power parity) of Australia for the year 2,006 was US$666.3 bn.I<As of 1006, Australia was the 13jll Diggest economy in the world and was ranked 10'M among the biggest industrialized economies', it was also the8'" richest nation in terms of per capita incorne.? Australia is also a vibrant democracy with strong democratic instltutlons. The services sector constituting tourism, financial serviees, and education coruributed tel nearly 69"1. of the GOP in 2007;'0 Tourism has emerged as the prime source of : revenue fer Australia with contributions of US,$79 in 2007." But the share of tourism had been steadily'Tslling over the years and it is considered a minor player in the world tourism industry." (Refer Table for the list of top 10 tourtst destinations in the world).

"Ancient Heritage, Modern Satiety," wwwdfat.gcvau "Australia - An Overview,"

'~ Global Economy,", April 20.08.

"Gross Domestic Product of Australia 1999·2006," "Australia> An Overview;"

'~stralia GDP Growth," W\'.,"v ... radingeconomiea.eom, May 14" 2008. "Tourism Co'ntribubee 85 Billion Dollars 'co Austrnliun Economy, " www.chinaview.corn, April 17, 2008,

,lVisitor Arrivals Data,"www.tourism.australia.cQm, March 2008.

Table: The World's Top Tourist Destinations
for the Years 2005 and 2006
Arrivals --
Country (millions) Percentage Change
2005 2006 2006-2005
France 75.9 79.1 4,2
Spain 55.9 58.5 4.5
United States 49.2 51.1 3,8
China 46.8 49.6 6,0
Italy 36.5 41.1 12..4
United Kingdom 28,0 30.7 9.3
C'----- -
Germany 21.5 23.6 9.6
Mexico 21.9 21.4 ·2.6
Austria 20 .. 0 20-3 1.5
- - -
Russian Federation 19.9 20.2 '.3
Adapted from "The World's Top Tourism OestinatiollS," ill



(Contd ... )

Australia's diverse population comprises the Aboriginal people, Torres Strait Islanders, Il and migrants from around 200 countries. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, me population of Australia was estimated at 21.3 million in May 2008."~ The native Aborigines constitute only 2.r'" of the total population.'> English is the national language and some other aboriginal languages are also spoken by the indigenous Australians. Nearly 4.1 million Austta I ians speak a second language. IS

'3 Torres Strait Islanders are natives of Torres Straits Islands, Queensland. 11 "Population Clock,"

'" 'I'im Johnsto n, "Auatr alia to Apologize to Aborigines for Past Mistreatrnen t, ", January 31, 2008.,

'" "Australia - An Overview,"

Compiled from va.riou5 sourre;

- --

Realizing the importance of tourism to the nation's economy, Australia had been promoting its tourism industry since the 1960s (Refer Exhibit III for history of Australian tourism: A timeline). In 1967, the Australian Tourism Commission (ATe) was established with a funding of A$1.5 mn," In 1983, the government granted A$13 mn to ATC to launch a major ad campaign for promoting tourism in Australia .. The campaign, called the "Shrimp on the Barbie", featured Paul Hogan." It was targeted at the US market and ran from 1984 to 1990. The original slogan of the ad campaign was "Come and say G'day, I'll slip an extra shrimp in the Barbie for you". The advertisement campaign was developed by the Australian advertising agency Mojo in association with NW Ayer & Son.IO It featured a series of TV ads, and was launched to coincide with the National Football Conference Championship Game" in January 1984. Its success could be gauged by the fact that it helped improve Australia's position from 78th to 7tJJ on the list of the most desired vacation destinations for Americans in just three months of its launch and later to number 1 or number 2 position on the dream vacation list of Americans. 12

The use of Australian slang in the promotional campaigns started with this advertising campaign. The word 'Barbie' was Australian slang for barbecue and the slogan "Slip a Shrimp on the Barbie" of the campaign referred to fun-filled picnics on sunny Australian afternoons. The campaign was so successful that the slogan was later used to refer to Australian culture. The campaign helped in the continuous flow of tourists into Australia for many years. Analysts felt that this campaign was the first to promote a destination as a brand on a large scale. According to some marketing experts, the "Shrimp on the Barbie" campaign brought destination branding to the limelight.

"History of Tourism in Australia, n

Paul Hogan is a famous Australian actor and comedian. He was honored with a number of awards like the Golden Globe and the Australian of the year award for the year 1985.

II NW Ayer & Son headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, is one of the oldest advertising agencies founded in the US.

11 The NFC Championship Game is one of the two semi-final matches of the National Football League, the largest professional American football league in the US.

12 Bill Baker and Peggy Bendel, "Come and Say O'Day!"

- - - -

Exhibit 11,: A Brief Note on Destination Branding

stlnatlon branding refers to -th~ branding of all th;;-things associated ;ith a place like its oducts and services, Destination may refer to a nation, a region, a city, o r an event. Destination. anding uses the same branding techniques used in product branding to position a particular estination as a brand. While branding is primarily used only for consumer products, destination rending is used to promote tourism by attracting visitors to a particular location and getting it fair

share of the tourism revenues. 11 helps a destination stand out from the dutter of other "lIe mal ives avai lable making the choices easier for I he consumers. Commenti ng on the concept of destination branding, Bm Baker, President, Total Destination Management.' said, "ln this era of superbrands, it may seem an unusual notion to consider a city, state, region, or country as a brand. We buy brands because We enjoy them and they make our choices easier. In the context of a place being the focal point for the promotion and catalyst for econornicdeveleprnent, it makes sense that it should be managed as a brand to enhanceits identity and perceived value in an lncreaslnglv competitive marketplace.""

The concept of 'Destination branding' eme.ged in the 19705, when New York launched its ., Love New York', campaign! This eminent campaign was one of the most successful campaigns in destination branding. The campaign focused on the accomrnodation,

I E'nrerlainm. ent,. and opportunities offered by the city While developing an image thaI encapsulated the benefits offered to the customers.

The development of destination branding resulted in a significant increase in the number of international IOUfl5l arrivals from 534 million in 1995 10 900 million in 1007 due to the

~fes~ive promotiona I strategies followed by various countries (Refer Figu re for the i nternational touri 51 anivals figures from 1995 to :2007).

Figure: International' Tourist Arrivals from 1995 to 2007 (in millions)


~r-----------------------------------------------~~--~ ~~----------------------------------~~----

:t=~~~====~~==~------ 500-]


300 100 100






6Bl 1\112 702 691

Arkpred from 'World TOlJri!il Arrivals: from 800 Million!IJ 900 MilUon in Two YeatS,'

In addition to attracting tourist and increasing tourist arrivals, destination branding also helped in attracting business investnrenrs, in increasing the softpower of the countrv, and in attracting skilled professionals.

Total Destination Management is composed of a team of people specializing in tourism marketing, tourism planning, branding of destination, city, Dr place, etc,

,Jesse Blackadder, "Australia - The Story of a Destination Brand,", 2006. I

Pandora Kay aud Allison Ringer, 'I Persuasive Branding and Prorno t ion Strategies,", 2003.


The campaign slowly started losing its sheen after a successful run of six years. It was in this period that Australia decided to curb its investments in the US and focus on other lucrative markets like Japan, Europe and South-East Asia.

The other important campaign that promoted tourism in Australia was the "Australia--a different light" campaign launched in May

Exhibit III: History of Australian Tourism - A Timeline

In 1 %6. the government appointed Don Chip!, as the first federal minister for handling I tourism activities in Australia.

In 1973, Australia's tourism policy, Developmenl of Tourism in Australia was launched with an additional grant of 11.$1.75 rnn.

In 1998, in an effort to enhance rural and regional tourism, the government released an action agenda for tourism called, 'Tourism: A Ticket for the 2P' Century".


In 1999, the ATe released a "See Australia" campaign to capitallze on the Sydney Olympic Garnes in 2000 .



In 2004, Tourism Australia, a statutory authOrity of the government of Australia was launched to prcrnote Austral ia as a tourisl desti nation both at the dernesticand inlemational1evel whi le providing estimates for the tourism sector.

In December 2005, the National Tourism Emerging Markets Strategy: China and India (NTEMS) was released and in March 2006, the National Tourism Investment Strategy: lovestlng for our Future .. These reports. advocated that the government and the tourism industry get involved in the task of promoting Australia as a tourist destination in those markets.

2Q04.13 The slogan of the campaign was "See Australia. in a different light". The campaign was intended to promote domestic tourism among Australians as well as seU Australia as an experience to other countries. It was also launched in respouse to New Zealand's "100% pure New Zealand" t4 campaign that helped New Zealand become the most favored destination in the southern hemisphere with visitor arrivals increasing by 33% :in a period of four years." The Australian campaign involved five TV ads featuring eminent Australian personalities like Delta Goodrem (singer/song writer) and Richie Benaud (cricketer/cricket commentator). The total budget for the, campaign, the biggest ever launched to promote tourism in Australia, was A$360 mn. The ATC consulted various organizatio.ns such as Penfolds," RM Williams Company,' 7 Australian Council for the Arts,1I1. and Foster's Group" to know their perceptions about Australia before launching commercials Lor the campaign.

One of the intentions of the campaign was to encourage Australians to take a break: and discover new unexplored regions in therr country. The campaign also focused on promoting Australia based on various attributes

1.~ Julian Lee and Anthony Dennis, "Australia to See the Light on Tourism,", May 19, 2004.

"100% Pure New Zealand." was a highly successful tourism promotion campaign started by Tourism New Zealand and designed by M&C Saatchi.

~ Julian Lee and Anthony Dennis, "Australia to See the Light on Tourism," May 19, 2004.


16 Founded in 1844, Penfolds is an Australia-based wine producer.


RM Williams Company is a maker of boots and other leather accessories.

18 Australian Council for the Arts is the government advisory body that grants funds for art organizations in Australia.

III Foster's Group IS a beverage company based in Australia,

that distinguished it from other destinations. Commenting on the campaign, Stephen O'Neill, Marketing Chief, ATC, said, "We wanted to show a different side to Australia, not just the sun, the sea, and the sand but the history and the culture of the place. Today's tourist is looking to learn more about the country rather than just enjoy some of its more obvious delights. "20

The logo of Tourism Australia combining the kangaroo and the sun was also launched during this campaign (Refer Exhibit IV for the logo of Tourism Australia). The "Australia-a different light" campaign was the biggest after the "Shrimp on the Barbie" campaign to promote Australian tourism. Tourism Australia launched the campaign to promote visiting Australia as an experience to be cherished. Launching the campaign, Joe Hockey (Hockey), then federal minister for small business and tourism, said, "We can't be just another theme park, we can't be another hotel room. We must provide visitors with a life-long experience."?' The campaign helped in positioning Australia as one of the world's most booming and attractive destination brands. The country attracted 5.5 million tourists in 2005 till September-an increase of 6% over the corresponding period of 2004. It earned A$17 bn (US$12.5 bn)22 from overseas tourists and this figure was expected to reach A$32.1 bn by 2014, according to the Tourism Forecasting Committee."

Exhibit IV: Logo of Tourism Australia

2l Julian Lee and Anthony Dennis, "Australia to See the Light on Tourism,", May 19, 2004.

22 "Australia swears by ad campaign," February 23, 2006.

"Bloody Hell! Australia's New Tourism Campaign Banned in UK,", March 9, 2006.

The Problem

Despite Australia being a strong destination brand, the problem that the newly formed Tourism Australia faced was that the number of tourists actually visiting Australia did not match the number of people who had shown an interest in visiting the country. Australia performed well in a number of destination ratings and scored high on brand recall. For instance, it was consistently rated high in the Anholt Nation Brands Index= (NBl). According to NBI, consumers picked Australia as the number one destination if money was not important and they considered Australians hardworking, trustworthy and honest. In 2005 and in early 2006, Australia was the number one tourist destination in the NBI results (Refer Table I for the top 10 nation brands).

However, analysts felt that there was a disconnect between Australia's value as a destination brand and its actual performance in the global marketplace as the same people who rated Australia high, ended up going to a different destination rather than Australia. Simon Anholt of NBI said, "One of the most interesting results on Australia's remarkable brand scorecard is the fact that it comes top of the list as a desirable tourist destination. This is such a strikingly inaccurate reflection of actual tourism patterns that some explanation is required ... What the NBI tells us is that much of the world has an appetite for things Australian. Now is the time for Australia to be producing great

Australian-branded products, culture, events, services, ideas, and media as fast as it possibly can."25

I able I: I op HI Nation Brands

Preparing for the New Campaign

The 'Bloody Hell' campaign was started by the Australian Government in 2006 to increase the tourist inflow to the country. The campaign was designed by the Sydney office of the advertising agency M&C Saatchi (Saatchi l." Saatchi had earlier designed the successful campaign, "100% Pure New Zealand" for promoting tourism in New Zealand.

:Ii The Anholt Nation Brands Index is an analytical ranking of the world's nation brands released quarterly. It surveys and analyzes 25,900 consumers in 35 nations to determine how countries are perceived by others. The nations are then ranked on the following criteria: tourism, culture and heritage, people, governance, exports, investment and immigration (Source: "Marketing Planet Nation Brand Index - What Brand Image Does Your Country Have?" December 22, 2005).

21 Jesse Blackadder, "Australia - The Story of a Destination Brand," http://

21 M&C Saatchi, headquartered in London, UK is one of the leading and fastest growing advertising agencies in the world.

The important objective of the campaign was to cash in on the awareness created through previous advertising campaigns and convert them into actual travel bookings. Tim Fischer, Chairman, Tourism Australia, said, "This campaign is about increasing the dollars that we earn from international tourism and encouraging the spread of tourists right across Australia, especially for rural and regional areas. This is the job that the Australian Government has asked Tourism Australia to do and this is the campaign that will deliver on that job. This is unashamedly a campaign about getting international tourists to come to Australia. What matters most is what potential visitors think and how we can get them to respond. "27

The target of the "Bloody Hell" campaign was to raise the tourist numbers to 9 million by 2014.28 The new global destination marketing campaign started in 2006 was also aimed at further enhancing Australia's image as a good international destination. The website of Tourism Australia highlighted the important objectives of the new campaign as, "to further

--------------- enhance Australia's reputation and address the new

challenges such as greater competition from other destinations, increased sameness between destinations, and reaching a more sophisticated global traveler who is becoming increasingly difficult to target.'?" The "Bloody Hell" campaign was aggressive and different from earlier campaigns as Tourism Australia sought to win in the increasingly competitive tourism market and offset competition from emerging international destinations like Malaysia, Singapore and India.

The target of the

"Bloody Hell"

campaign was to raise the tourist

numbers to

9 million by 2014

Before the launch, the campaign was tested on 86 focus groups'" in the seven topmost target markets of Australia-the US, the UK, Germany, Japan, South Korea, China, and New Zealand-which accounted for 67% of the inbound Australian tourism business." The Bloody Hell campaign had a research budget of A$6.2 mn.32 The campaign had got a very good response from the focus groups, according to' Tourism Australia.

After testing the feasibility of the campaign, the target group was identified. This group was called the Experience Seekers and they were

'ZI "So Where the Bloody Hell are You? Tourism Australia Invites the World to Australia," February 27, 2006.

'l8 Julian Lee, "How to Lure the Tourists - Spin them a Line of Strine," February 24, 2006.

19 "A Uniquely Australian Invitation," 2007.

III Focus Group is a form of qualitative research. In this method, a group of people are asked about their opinion of a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, packaging, etc. Members of the focus group are asked questions in an interactive group setting and the group members are free to talk with each other during the process.

31 "So Where the Bloody Hell Are You? Tourism Australia Invites the World to Australia,',', February 27, 2006.

3i Julian Lee, "Bloody Hell! Sensitive Poms Rein in Our Ads,", March 10, 2006.

early adopters who played a major role in influencing the purchasing behavior of other people. According to the marketers, they were a new breed of travelers who looked for 'authentic personal experiences they can talk about.' These were the long-haul visitors who liked to get involved and 'engage with the locals'. They were adventurous and looking for a change from their everyday lives. They also demanded value for their money in their vacation spending." Though the campaign primarily targeted the Experience Seekers, care was taken to see that it was not rejected by other groups as this would dilute the efficiency of the media spend. Estimates from Tourism Australia suggested that there was a huge growth potential from target markets such as the UK, Germany, the US, Japan, and China in 2007 (Refer Table II for percentages of experience seekers in Australia's five key markets).

Launching the New Campaign

The campaign was launched by Fran Bailey (Bailey), then Australian tourism minister, on February 27,2006. The advertisements of the campaign featured a total of 11 scenes and 13 still images. The images and scenes showed the diverse range of experiences on offer in Australia.

The tag line used for the campaign, "So Where the Bloody Hell Are You?" was perceived to be uniquely Australian in tone and character. When deciphered, the campaign meant, "Immerse Yourself in Australia's World Heritage.":"

The campaign was run through all the media channels (both traditional and new media) such as television, print, cooperative and retail activity, web, point of sale, direct marketing, and outdoor advertising. It cost a total of A$180 mn.35 (Refer Figure for the campaign structure). Though the campaign was standardized across all the markets, some minor changes were made for each market depending upon the cultural factors governing that market.

The TV ads were made in two 80 and 60-second versions and focused on an array of Australian tourism experiences while the print ads focused on the diversity of experiences in a range of geographical and environmental ilettings (Refer Exhibit V for some of the print ads). The people featured in the advertisements were mostly real people (nonfnodels). The advertisement

Table II: Experienc e Seekers in Australia's Five Key Markets

II "The Selling of Australia,", February 27, 2006.

"New Aussie Tourism Campaign Targets Japan,", September 5, 2007.

II "Brits Lift Bloody Hell Ad Ban,", March 18, 2006.

Figure: The Campaign Structure

IheTq.;-Marlret The fxperienre Seem-.

Qnsumer irSghl: .IIra\IeIIDexperiencelhedi~


To inoeaselhedemandpool of poI!'Sl1iaIl!aWlersby increasing !he inlention 101l<!Vel.

TheAu5l!:alian brand i,well-estlblished and ft"Sp6;loo by 0ilI'lWmer5 who already have a sIrong<lf"lCl positivepredisposilion

10 the destination. The campaign creatively caplUreslhebrand insight and conveys an irwilationtovisit Brimdinsight:

Australia hasa uniquely open personality and environment.



Explosion of media options, CoI1surnef-led environrnen~ MuliHflannei environmenls.


~ Brand'pl'Opasloon: 'Australia invites you to I¥'f. involved.'

Increase Experience Seekers' intention ID travel to Austral ia, B'!' Engaging them in a conversation

IGN rrso WITH A uniquely Australian invitation SUPPORTED BV Compo1!llin)3 infomlalion about Australian experiences, PROVIDED THROIJGH A multiplicityof COI1I1JTIunica~on louch points, TO GENERA UContaa with theclistributioo channel.

~--------,.. --------~


[crea:ti~eJ f Dislributio~. [Medi~-I ~Illms [gigital


Adapled from' r\ Uniquelv Australian Illvitalion, Scralf'ID' 8. Execution ." wllw.[Qurism,

campaign also featured the Tourism Australia logo. There was a special focus on using the Web fOT the new advertising campaign. Tourism Australia partnered with OneDigi.tal3li and ISOBARS? network of companies to' develop a digital strategy to revamp the website and the execution of a suite of digital programs. The website was modified to reflect the new campaign. and a new supplementary website called was developed to provide digital support programs for the campaign. An example of these digital support programs was the electronic postcards activity where the trade and consumers could create their own postcards online by choosing from selected images from the campaign and send them to their contacts. Advertisements were run in major newspapers in Australia and other countries encouraging people to log on to the new website and to e-mail their contacts.

OneDigital, headquartered in Sydney, Australia is an advertising agency which specializes In digital advertising. It describes itself as "full service digital agency.'

ISOBAR, headquartered in L-ondon, UK, is a digital marketing agency and the world's largest digital agency network.

Exhibit V: Some Scenes from the "So Where the Bloody Hell Are You?" Campaign

Sou=: WI,w.wunSI11 aUSlIaiia.col1l

- - - --

Australian supermodel Bingle became the face of the campaign. and was featured in some of the shots of the advertisement. The campaign's theme was to show how Australians were inviting the visitors and preparing their country for them. The TV ad began with an opening line where a customer in a remote outback" pub said, "We have poured you a beer." This was followed by similar scenes inviting the viewers to visit Australia: a camel train silhouetted by the sunset in the Australian desert where a woman said, "And we have had the camels shampooed," a barelegged woman at Fingel Spit39 who said, "We have saved you a spot on the beach," a boy diving in a pool who said, "And we have got the sharks out of the pool," a golfer on the golf course bunker who said, 'We have got the roos4ll off the green," a jaekaroo" in a homestead who said, ';And Bill's on his way down to open the front gate," a pilot of a plane landing on the great barrier reef'!2 who said, "Your taxi is waiting," a woman standing before the fireworks display of the Sydney harbor who said, "We have

ill The back country or remote settlements (Source: ]I The northern head of the Fingal Bay located in the Hunter region of New South Wales, Australia is called Fingel Spit.

_, Australian Informal for Kangaroos, (Source:

4J A young man living as an apprentice on !l sheep station or otherwise engaged in acquainting himself with colonial life. (Source:

4! The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in northeast Australia.

turned on the lights," and a young woman from a performing Aboriginal dance troupe who said, "And we have been rehearsing for over 40,000 years." The advertisement ended with the bikini clad Bingle coming out of the ocean at Fingel Spit and asking viewers, "So where Lhe bloody hell arc yoU?"43

This campaign was launched on a global scale unlike the earlier "Shrimp on the Barbie" campaign that targeted the US market. On earlier occasions, specific campaigns were released for specific markets like campaigns featuring Greg Norrnan= targeting the Korean market while a campaign released in Japan targeted the career-oriented office women, who took decisions like where their family would spend their holidays. The "Bloody Hell" campaign was rolled out in many of the targeted markets such as New Zealand, the US, Germany, the UK, Hong Kong, China, Japan, and Korea by the end of March 2006, the UK, Germany, and Japan being Australia's main target markets (Refer Table III for the details of the global rollout of the "Bloody Hell" campaign). The launch of the campaign got extensive media coverage around the world.

But even before the campaign was launched, there were some apprehensions about the cultural reactions that the new advertisements could evoke because of the slang words used in them. Tourism Australia had even filmed alternative advertisements like the one in English, "So where the hell are you?" However, it was confident that the campaign would be successful and dismissed all apprehensions about it. Bailey said, "We've done our homework and we have researched it in all our major markets. We have really road-tested the campaign and it works.":"

John Howard, Prime Minister, Australia, also supported the ad and said, "I don't think we are polite enough to each other and good manners


Table III: The Global Roll-Out of the "Bloody Hell" Campaign

location t- Launch to Trade Date j Mediu~
Sydney t February ~J, 2006 NA
New Zealand February 27, 200"'_. TV, Cinema, Internet and Pnnt
US March 7, 2~6 lV, Internet and Print
Germany March 10. 2006 TV, Cinema and Internet
UK March 13, 2006 lV, Cinema and Internet
- ,.___
HonlL_Long March 20, 2006 TV and Internet
China March 20, 2oo~_ lV and Internet
!apan March 27, 2006 t: TV, Cinema and Internel
Korea .\-\arch 29, 2006 TV and internet " "Australia Asks \\1bere the Bloody Hell Are You," February 26, 2006.

.. Greg Norman is an Australia-based golf player.

~ Julian Lee, "How to Lure the Tourists-Spin them a Line of Strine,", February 24, 2006.

is the basis of a more civilized society. I think it's a colloquialism, it's not a word that is seen quite in the same category as other words that nobody ought to use in public or on the media or in an advertisement ... I think the style of the ad is anything but offensive, but is, in fact, in the context, I think it's a very effective ad."46

Controversy and Criticisms

The "Bloody Hell" campaign attracted controversy immediately after its launch. The campaign was criticized in some of the target countries for using swear words like 'bloody' and 'hell' and for its allegedly crude content.

The advertisement campaign was released in the UK, Australia's most valuable market, in March 2006.47 (Refer Exhibit VI for the top 10 source countries for short-term visitor arrivals into Australia). The advertisement was banned in UK for using the word 'bloody' and, UK's Broadcast Advertising Clearance Center" (BACC) instructed Tourism Australia authorities to drop the word 'bloody'

from the ad.49 Tourism Australia reacted to the ban saying that it would actually help the campaign in becoming more successful. Commenting on the ban in the UK, the Managing Director of Tourism Australia, Scott Morrison said, "We thank the UK authorities for the extra free publicity and invite them to have a 'bloody' good holiday in Australia, especially with the Commonwealth Games now on and the Ashes coming up later in the year." 50

As a result of the ban the word 'bloody' was cut from the advertising campaign when shown on the UK TV. But the advertisement was allowed to be shown on other media channels such as print, cinema and online in the original form. Morrison said, "We would have preferred the

Exhibit VI: The Top 10 Source Countries for Short-term Visitor Arrivals as of February 2008

48 "PM Backs 'Bloody' Tourism Ad Campaign,", February 23, 2006. 41 In 2005, more than 700,000 visitors from the UK visited spending around A$3.4

bn. (Source: "Bloody Hell! Australia's New Tourism Campaign Banned in UK,"

~, March 9, 2006).

i e Broadcast Advertising Clearance Center was a Non-Government Organization I which pre-approved the television advertising in UK till December 31, 2007.

1:.: ..•..... · .......• ·. : "Australian Advert Banned on UK TV,",March9,2006 .

• w Julian Lee, "Bloody Hell! Sensitive Poms Rein in Our Ads,", March 10, 2006.


ad to run the way we first made it, but we can still run it the way it is cut now, which says 'Where the hell are you?' It is not as if it is not going to be shown on UK television. It will be shown. It will just have that slight adjustment to it. It will be run in its original format on the Internet, in cinemas and everywhere else."51 The advertising agency which created the campaign, Saatchi also reacted strongly to the ban. Richard Alford the managing director of Saatchi, said, "The line is a classic piece of Australian language, It's just sad that we'll be deprived of this fresh and funny line on UK 'I'V."52 They argued that it was ironical that the authorities allowed the controversial ads of French Connection of the UK (FCUK) , but objected to their campaign."

Bailey immediately visited the UK to save the campaign from the UK censors. The hectic lobbying that she indulged in resulted in the ban on the advertising campaign being lifted. But a 9 p.m, watershed'" was imposed on the advertisement. Bailey said, "I am. pleased that common sense prevailed and. the regulators realized the campaign was intended to be

-------------. cheeky, friendly, and very Australian.v= Some critics in Australia even questioned the heavy costs incurred on the campaign and OD the lobbying efforts of Bailey to save it. Figures obtained by the media revealed that Bailey spent A$50,OOO in just a week in her effort to save the campaign. It was also revealed. that the flights to London for Bailey and her team (which also included Bingle) cost A$31,102.94.66

In May 2006,. the Advertising Standards Authority" (ABA) :in the UK rejected the complaints against the ad campaign saying that the tag line's "acceptability depended on the context and media in which it

appeared.T" However, it later imposed a 9 p.m. broadcast restriction on the TV ads with the controversial phrase.

Figures obtained by the media

revealed that

Bailey spent A$50,OOO in just ,a

week in her ef(or,t

to save the


In the same year, the campaign attracted the wrath of the regulators in Canada. The Canadian authorities banned the advertisement campaign

51 "Australia's Tourism Ad Restricted for 'Bloody' in UK," www.commercialarchive. com, September 3, 2006 ..

ill "Bloody Hell! Australia's New Tourism Campaign Banned in UK,", March 10, 2006.

'" The controversy surrounding clothing and accessory brand French Connection of UK was the use of its abbreviated form which was very similar to an impolite slang word.

51 Watershed is the term used to describe the time in the television schedules when the broadcasting of adult content is permitted. The watershed on UK's television starts at 9.00 p.m. and ends at 5.30 a.m. the next morning.

Iii "Brits Lift Bloody Hell Ad Ban,", March 18, 2006.

m Scott Murdoch, ~What did We Get for $180 mn?", December 6, 2006.

'" The Advertising Standards Authority was an independent and non-statutory Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO) of the advertising industry in UK.

aI "Brit Ban on 'Bloody' Ad 'Incredibly Ludicrous'",, March 28, 2007.

for its opening line, "We have poured you a beer". The Canadian regulator contended that the opening line was an inference to the consumption of unbranded alcohol. Canada also found the use of the word 'hell' objectionable. Reacting to the Canadian ban on the campaign Bailey said, "We now have the Canadian authorities not wanting us to use the opening segment of 'I've bought you a beer' .... As far as this particular Canadian regulator is concerned, I'd love him to come out here and I'll buy him a beer and say thank yoU."59

Stung by the criticism faced in these countries, Tourism Australia took precautions when it released the advertisement in others such as Singapore and Japan and deleted the words 'Bloody' and 'Hell'. Though controversies and criticisms over the advertisement campaign created some free publicity, they diluted the purpose for which the campaign had been started, some analysts felt. Toursim Australia officials contended that the controversy surrounding its advertising was because the slogan used for the campaign had been misunderstood and because of a lack of understanding of the

Australian culture. --------------

However, the campaign found critics among experts in Australia too. Alan Cadman, a member of the federal parliament, found the campaign offensive and said, "People usually can say those things to somebody they know well. I don't think they would use it to a stranger and, in this instance, we're talking to strangers of a different culture who I think may be offended."60 Analysts felt that it was also difficult to translate the message into other languages.

Despite criticism from several quarters, Tourism Australia authorities maintained that the message the advertisement sought to convey was to invite people to visit Australia

Though the UK authorities lifted the ban, the ASA found the billboards featuring the "Bloody Hell" ------------campaign on the motorways in the UK unpleasant and ordered them to be

removed in March 2007. ASA's decision was based on the 32 complaints it

had received from people who perceived the slogan of the campaign as

offensive and feared that children might be influenced by it.61 ASA said

that the new campaign did not adhere to the advertising rules relating to

responsibility and children. It also warned Tourism Australia not to use

any swear words in any of its future billboards.

Despite criticism from several quarters, Tourism Australia authorities maintained that the message the advertisement sought to convey was to invite people to visit Australia. Christopher Brown, Managing Director, Tourism and Transport Forum Lobby Group, said, "It's about the only global brand campaign that Australia does anywhere; it is our message to the world and obviously Aussies, be it back 24 years ago today when the Paul Hogan campaign launched in America, right through to Lara Bingle,

III "Beer Offer Adds to Bloody Ad Ban," March 22,2006.

III "Australia's Crude Tourism Campaign a 'Bloody' $130 mn Flop,"

March 8, 2006.

81 "Brit Ban on 'Bloody' Ad 'Incredibly Ludicrous''', March 28, 2007.

Australians are always going to take great interest in the message we send to the world. "62

The Results of the Campaign

Many critics described the campaign as a failure right from the first year of its launch. In the first year of its launch, the number of tourist arrivals actually fell. In October 2006, the number of UK tourists who visited Australia fell by 2.3% compared to the preceding year. The number of Japanese tourists fell by 5.7% while the number of German tourists dropped by 4.7%.63 These three markets were touted by the Australian government as having the greatest exposure to the campaign. But there was an increase in the number of tourists from China and the US who visited Australia in the same period. Critics claimed that the campaign was not yielding any results even though a lot of money had been spent on it. "We have been told it was a huge success and generated all these hits on a website, but

the latest tourism figures show the numbers are down 2.3%,"64 said Labor's Transport Spokesman Martin Even as the number of Ferguson (Ferguson).

Even as the number of tourists arriving in Australia saw a decline, the overall revenues from tourism actually increased after the campaign was launched. The tourism revenues increased by A$1.8 bn in the year 2006 and tourist spending increased to A$14 bn for the first time

after the launch of the "Bloody Hell" campaign." Tourism industry experts said that the increase in revenues was only because of increased spending coupled with longer stays rather than an actual increase in the number of tourists. The time tourists spent in Australia increased by 14% to 3.6 nights after the launch of the campaign.

tourists arriving in Australia saw a decline, the overall

revenues from tourism actually increased after the campaign

was launched

Australia's position in the NBI too slipped and by June 2007, it was placed 11th in the brand name valuation index. Canada overtook Australia as the world's friendliest nation."

When the campaign was running through 2007, some analysts opined that it was not a total failure. The number of overseas tourists to Australia increased to 2.7 million in the first half of 2007, a growth of 4.2% compared to the corresponding period of 2006. Tourists visiting Australia from China, Korea, and South-East Asia went up by 20%, 8%, and 11% respectively."

II! Edmond Roy, "Tourism Australia Looks Beyond 'Controversial Campaign"',, February 7, 200B.

III Scott Murdoch, "What did We Get for $1BO mn?" December 6, 2006.

eo Scott Murdoch, "What did We Get for $1BO mn?" December 6,


85 "Aussies Knocked OtT as World's Most Friendly," June 1, 2007. If; "Bingle Ad Rakes in Extra $1.B bn," March B, 2007.

fI1 "Tourism to Australia Growing 'Bloody' Strongly," August 8, 2007.

A report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that the tourism industry added A$84.97 bn to the Australian economy in the financial year 2006-07 financial year. This was an increase of 7.8% from 2005-06 and also the highest growth in the sector since 1999. Of this, overseas tourists accounted for A$22.3 bn (growth of 9.8%).68

Tourism Australia continued to maintain that the campaign was highly effective and released research data to prove that it was working. Within days of its being launched, the campaign made it to the list of 50 favorite commercials spanning four decades published by Advertising Federation of Australia'" (AFA). The TV ads of the campaign then made it to the second cut of 30 top commercials. In the campaign update published by Tourism Australia in April 2007, results of a brand tracking survey were shown (Refer Table IV for the results of the brand tracking survey in key tourism markets). The campaign attracted the approval of media commentators who rejected the previous campaigns promoting Australia's increasing cultural sophistication.

However, with the campaign failing to increase the tourist inflows significantly and pressure mounting on Tourism Australia to end it, the campaign was withdrawn in February 2008. In 2007, tourist arrivals increased by just 2% to 5.6 million. They declined by 0.7% in January 2008 and by 1.2% in February 2008.10 Ultimately; tourism industry experts said that though the campaign had been well-pubIicized and had received good attention in the target markets, it had become famous for all the wrong reasons. Nor had it resulted in any significant increase in tourist numbers. "The ad itself was disgraceful ... They

spent $6 mn researching it and it was rejected allover _

the world because first of all nebody knows what that

term means,"!' said Federal Tourism Minister of Australia, John Brown.


Analysts said that

apart from the loss in nu.mbers and

revenues, the controversy might tarnish the image of

brand 'Australia' itself

Some experts felt that the failure of the "BLoody Hen" campaign. had dented the image of Tourism Australia as its predecessor, ATe, was considered an expert in destination branding. Analysts said that apart from the loss in tourist numbers and revenues, the controversy might tarnish the image of brand 'Australia' itself. They said that Australia should take urgent steps to control the damage caused by the failed advertising campaign and design. a new campaign to. stop the decline in tourist numbers, more so in

III "Tourism Contributes 85 billion Dollars to Australian Economy,", April 17, 2008.

eEl Advertising Federation of Australia is a union of 185 companies providing advertising and marketing communications services in Australia. It was formed in 1975.

");j Ben Packham, "No Spot for Lara in New Ad Pitch," March 24, 2008.

n "Where the Bloody Hell is the New Ad Campaign?", February 7, 2008.

Table IV: Results of Brand Tracking Survey in Key Tourism Markets

- -

Seen the Campaign Yes No Yes NOI Yes UK I,very posiLi>te-Strong-llr-· r-'es-u-lts-+-79~ ~ I ~/l0! 5.3!1~tl48010

for those who saw the I

campaign ~r~lI meas1.J....:I'eS::.;.--t __ _,.. __ -+- __ -+-_

Japan Positive - Strong results across 63 '%.

l most measures. Can to action

_ ~ery positive in 11 tou!!h market J

New Challenging - Existing know- I 82%

Zealand ledge and past visitation mean the campaign has to work J

~ harder to cut through. Buzz is well up.

Sooth Positive - Strong results across 70 %

Korea most measures, especially in

I terms of buzz. J 1

USA Verv Posltive c Strong results 181% 160% 16.4/10 [4.9/1°147% 20%

across most measures among

Ih~ who saw the campaign. ~

Still Building - Fewer airings 30% 16% 4.1/10 3.5110

of ad reduces capacity for I I

impact, but good results for 1

___, buzz and call to actio~ -+_ __ __ ---l

Germany Positive - Strong results across I 73·,1, 60"10 15.6110 5.2110

most measures. Strong call to 1

action and buzz measure.

- -------- --'---~-----'---~--

Buzz represents. net positive and neutral mentions about what people have heard recently about Australia.

*... Self-reported knowledge shows us how much travelers thlnk they know about Australiathe more the better.




Knowledge of Australia" ..

Call to Action"u



47% 15.0/1014.5/10 I 43% 65% 6.6/10 6.1110 67%

125% 67%

I 1

60% 5.2110 +4.9/10 t 72%






~ .... Making a phone call, visiting a website or getting a brochure puts travelers closer to visiting A~alia.

- -

Adapted from' A Uniquely Ausrralian Invitation - C.ampai!!11 Updare, • WWW.lQl/rlsll1.av<tralia.cOIll, Apn/2007.

view of the emergence of new tourist hot spots like India and Malaysia. Tourism Australia aliso faced competition from the tourism initiatives of neighboring countries, which competed for the same target markets with similar offerings. The main competitor was New Zealand, which promoted itself as a pristine destination with its succe.ssful"lOO% pure New Zealand" campaign.

Another major challenge was the strong Australian dollar that was causing 8. surge in outbound tourism in Australia while hampering the inbound tourist arrivals. The government sent out a stiff message to Tourism Australia to roll out a new campaign .. Ferguson said, "I've indicated to them this is their core responsibility-to promote Australia internationally-and that they want to make sure they pay a lot of attention to this procurement process. It is the responsibility of Tourism Australia to work out what is appropriate, how to actually sell Australia as a mature, inviting nation and a good place to have a tourism experience

in the knowledge that they're not going to get ripped off by a rogue operator. "72

Tourism Australia said that it would soon launch a new campaign to replace the one that was withdrawn. In April 2008, it shortlisted some seven advertising agencies" and two media agencies" as part of its plans to roll out a new advertising campaign." Tourism Australia appointed Agency Register" for providing strategic advice on the campaign. It said that it would announce the name of the advertising agency which would create the next advertising campaign by July 2008. Tourism Australia added that the new campaign would sell Australia as a 'mature, inviting country' and that this would help it boost the declining tourist numbers. It also said that it was taking every precaution to avoid any controversies in the future regarding its campaigns. ~

Aclapa Srinivasa Baa, Research Associate, The Icfai Center for Management Research (lCMR).

Debapratim Purkayastha.

Consultant, The Icfai Center for Management Research (lCMR).


. l. Pandora Kay and Allison Ringer, Persuasive Branding and Promotion Strategies,, 2003.

t. Julian Lee and Anthony Dennis, Australia to See the Light on Thumm,, May 19, 2004.

I. Australia is the World's Favorite Nation Brand., August 1, 2005.

I: Australia Swears by Ad Campaign, February 23,2006 .

. PM Backs 'Bloody' Tourism Ad Campaign,, February 23, 2006.

~ ..

I Ben Packham, "No Spot for Lara in New Ad Pitch," March 24,2008.

'1Il).'he seven advertising agencies are Clemenger BBDO, Singleton, Ogilvy & Mather,

Media Planning Group, Saatchi, Publicis Mojo, and Whybin TBWA.

~i The two media agencies are MPG and Carat Group.

llKetinda Varley, "Tourism Australia Announces Shortlist,", April ~) 21,2008.

i . Established in 1987, the Agency Register is a Sydney·based consultancy that provides t8Jjew, relationship management, selection, and agency search services (Source: r.'

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