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.
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?