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So … where the bloody hell are we? ACT goes missing in new tourism ad

Genevieve Jacobs 27 December 2019 70
Kylie Minogue

Kylie Minogue leads the new Matesong campaign (minus the ACT). Photo: Supplied.

We might have the nation’s number one tourist attraction in the Australian War Memorial. We might have the mighty national institutions and a city ringed by bush with great food and wine. We could even be the “coolest little capital” in the world, feted for our liveable lovableness.

But we still don’t get a guernsey in the latest and highly controversial, new Tourism Australia ad released this week. Featuring Kylie Minogue and Adam Hills, the ad is designed to appeal to jaded Brexit survivors, battered senseless by brutal politics and an icy British winter.

“Your besties across the ocean are calling,” the ad tells tired Brits. A bearded Hills concedes that lengthy trade negotiations are a shocker but look, Kylie says, “there’s a quokka! That’s what you need!” (Cue swelling chorus about a quokka being really, really what you need).

The ad cost $15 million to make and aired in Britain immediately before the Queen’s Christmas speech. Our Kylie took on a distinctly regal mien, describing a year that’s been “tough and confusing” before pushing away faux palace walls decorated with wombat portraits to reveal a beach full of friendly locals, sunshine and even koalas.

Icy cold beers slide down bars, Kylie reprises her role as Charlene from Neighbours and various people warble, more or less in tune, to Matesong, composed by Eddie Perfect. Producers say they travelled around the nation to film evocatively Australian places and people.

And so, everyone from Shane Warne to Ian Thorpe makes an appearance across a series of locations from Sandringham Beach to Sydney Harbour via Uluru, Rottnest and Byron Bay, in every state and territory in the country.

Except here.

The nation’s bush capital, its beating heart, is conspicuous by its absence. And this despite the fact that more than 266,000 foreign tourists did manage to find us last year, a new record. 

Now, possibly the smoke haze has been a little heavy recently. Admittedly Lake Burley Griffin is short on waves and long on carp and blue-green algae. And kangaroos thronging golf courses like the cast from a marsupial Valley of the Dead don’t quite cut it on the cute-factor scale.

But surely there was room for one soaring shot of Parliament House? Couldn’t someone have strolled past Blue Poles or the Jackie Chan mural at the Dickson Motor Registry? Stroked a bettong inside the Mulligans Flat razor wire? Gone skinny dipping down at Kambah Pool (mind the brown snakes)?

Or even just ascended into the crisp, clear morning air in a balloon shaped like a giant beagle?

Tourism Australia is not taking calls on the subject. Other media criticism has centred on the ad’s supposed lack of diversity and cringe factor.

Earlier this year, Tourism Australian launched the larger ‘Philausophy’ advertising campaign that looks to focus on ordinary Australians and how welcoming we are. Tourists are encouraged to live the Australian ‘Philausophy’ and experience the laid back, easygoing nature of Australians.

Just not in our neck of the woods, by the look of it.

Should Canberra be part of the new Australian tourism ad, or was this a lucky escape for the Territory?


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70 Responses to So … where the bloody hell are we? ACT goes missing in new tourism ad
Marek Kreisler Marek Kreisler 9:50 am 02 Jan 20

Don't need to include Canberra....its only the capital :)

Martin Lawrence Martin Lawrence 10:56 am 30 Dec 19

Dickson Motor Registry?

Alli Mac Alli Mac 8:07 pm 28 Dec 19

Honestly…i only came to Canberra because it was the last place i would think to find myself…it is like a cross between the Stepford Wives and a 1960s European sci-fi movie…i struggle to work out why people live here yet alone choose it as a tourist destination so in other words, it was a smart move to leave it out of the tourism campaign.

bj_ACT bj_ACT 7:49 pm 28 Dec 19

Surely the Sears workwear guy deserved a spot before Ian Thorpe.

How do ya know? Better than Where the bloody hell are you? Unless you are ScoMo.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:37 pm 28 Dec 19

“Pretty sure there is more to Australia than beaches, cricket and boozes.”

This is a targeted ad and the target audience rates very highly what you have mentioned. Most of the “fish and chip only” takeaways have closed down and I haven’t seen “bangers and mash” on the menu at the Kingo for a long while so they won’t be coming to Canberra.

Kylie Aitkenhead Kylie Aitkenhead 1:42 pm 28 Dec 19

Who says Canberra isn’t included… the ad doesn’t name specific places?! The great food, art gallery or bush scenes could all represent Canberra to be fair! A shot of Parliament House or Anzac Parade from Mt Ainsley isn’t exactly going to motivate a Pom to come visit Australia… Do Aussies wanting to travel to the US put Washington as their first stop… No! Or will a photo of 10 Downing Street make Aussies long for a trip to London. Ppffftt… No!
Canberra is a hidden gem… Something tourists find or discover once they’ve already decided to come to Australia! And we all know tourists won’t be disappointed when they arrive! Nothing to whinge about Canberra… keep calm & carry on!

Chris Brooks Chris Brooks 11:30 am 28 Dec 19

I've lived in the ACT since 1985. I love it here. But this is a whinge. The advertising campaign is cringe-worthy but it's trying to appeal to people who want to visit Australia hence they're leveraging the iconic draw cards like Uluru, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Great Barrier Reef etc.

Name one international draw card the ACT has on that level.

And don't say Parliament House or the War Memorial because while they are worth seeing, they're hardly iconic on an international scale.

    Tristan Flynn Tristan Flynn 1:04 pm 28 Dec 19

    Chris Brooks The War Memorial is an international scale icon. It has just never been advertised to tourists who think Australia is Sydney, outback and beaches and nothing in between.

    Parliament House is an architectural marvel as well... at least before they put that disgusting fence on it.

    Chris Brooks Chris Brooks 2:27 pm 28 Dec 19

    Both the War Memorial and Parly House are worth seeing but they are not iconic. Show most people from overseas a picture of Uluru or the Opera House and they instantly think of Australia because they are iconic.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 6:53 pm 28 Dec 19

    Chris Brooks what makes something iconic? Yup exposure. Bit hard for some going to become iconic without it getting said exposure.

    Chris Brooks Chris Brooks 7:03 pm 28 Dec 19

    Ashley Wright This advertising campaign is designed to make people want to come to Australia. It has to use things that are already iconic to get people on the plane.

    It's not the right vehicle for making new things iconic.

    You don't make the War Memorial iconic by showing a picture of it for 2 seconds in a TV commercial in the UK.

Marie Stove Marie Stove 11:25 am 28 Dec 19

*Cringe* 😟

Pretty sure there is more to Australia than beaches, cricket and boozes.

Gilavon Gilavon 11:12 am 28 Dec 19

… yep, they didn’t include the rainbow roundabout or the tram. Who cares?

Cindy Capybara Cindy Capybara 10:57 am 28 Dec 19

Dong Feng they didn’t include Mount Ainslie, Act!

Michael Wolter Michael Wolter 10:48 am 28 Dec 19

Lol there is a list of things a mile long to see in Australia before Canberra.

    Tristan Flynn Tristan Flynn 1:10 pm 28 Dec 19

    Michael Wolter There is a lot of things to see in this country and Canberra has a lot more than most people realise. All the better, we don't have to deal with obnoxious Sydneysiders and stuck up Melburnian hipsters.

    Tom McDonald Tom McDonald 11:12 pm 28 Dec 19

    Michael: correct.

Lachlan Paff Lachlan Paff 10:41 am 28 Dec 19

Oh not a big loss if you honest

Lesley Malcolm Lesley Malcolm 10:30 am 28 Dec 19

Aimed at the Brits who have had enough of politics which Canberra is centred on according to a spokesperson.

Carole Ford Carole Ford 10:18 am 28 Dec 19

Just one snippet of maybe the War Memorial, or Parly House, or the view from Mt Ainslie on Anzac Day, just something. They should be made to redo it, it's not a fair representation of our Nation. Love Kylie, but 'NOT HAPPY JAN' about the ad in it's current form!😡🤨Besides which, my family emmigrated here in 1971 because my Dad liked the look of Canberra, a lot of Pommies came here in the 70's. Canberra has to be one of the most liveable cities, (not so much with the smoke currently), in the world, well I do! There's something new and appealing about Canberra that the English are looking for.

Justine Marlin Justine Marlin 9:18 am 28 Dec 19

Huge numbers of overseas students study in Canberra and their social media probably achieves far greater reach.

David Brown David Brown 8:33 am 28 Dec 19

When I travel Overseas I take clip on animals as gifts. I used to include kangaroos but not any more. People don’t want them.

Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 7:52 am 28 Dec 19

It’s an excellent ad. It’s aimed at young Brits, not us. And am I the only one who got the “Sandringham” “Beach” riff?

Joey Lansdowne Joey Lansdowne 7:28 am 28 Dec 19

Kylie what were you 💭thinking! I don’t even know where to start or make if this.

Winkie Wee Winkie Wee 7:27 am 28 Dec 19

Got to wonder about the timing of this ad campaign, when half the country is burning up.

Joe Coppin Joe Coppin 1:24 am 28 Dec 19

Not a good ad but your articles a bit how ya going too.

Sure there's highlights from a large range of places and zip from ACT but it doesn't once mention any of the places by name it's always Australia and we all may benefit by association.

I'm quite happy that footage of ACT isnt included in such a lousy ad anyway.

    Michael McDonell Michael McDonell 4:05 am 28 Dec 19

    agreed, and also ... no your point is all that needs to be said.

    Natalie Evans-Sandell Natalie Evans-Sandell 7:40 am 28 Dec 19

    bit like throw a shrimp on the barbie ad, many years ago. Perhaps it’s not trying to appeal to Aussies but brits who this might appeal to 🤷‍♀️ in their language/style.

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