Transcript, E&OE

Topics: Tourism Australia ad in the UK, bushfires, Uluru.
26 December 2019

John Stanley: In the meantime, of course you wouldn’t know it was bushfire season, that all the smoke was heading over our cities because we’ve got this new tourism ad featuring Kylie Minogue. Now, I’ve been talking about this through the morning. If you go online and have a look at it, it’s part of Tourism Australia’s new Philausophy campaign. There was a lot of criticism of the term Philausophy with A-U-S being shoved in the middle of the word philosophy. There have been a lot of misses and a lot of criticism of our tourism efforts, but this matesong which was played immediately before the Queen’s Christmas message in the UK. It’s aimed specifically at the UK market. It’s a song written by Eddie Perfect. Kylie Minogue’s part of it. This is just how it starts. You really do need to see it. But here’s Kylie singing. Have a listen.

[Excerpt from tourism campaign]

Now I should just explain. It begins with Kylie sitting there. It’s almost like- like a Christmas message from Sandringham. And then Adam Hills, who is very well known in the UK, comes across, he pushes the wall down and talks about Australia and you suddenly see the expanses of Australia and saying to people in the UK: well you’ve had a tough year. What about this? And then for the next three minutes, you see Kylie, you see Adam Hills, he’s part of it. You see Warnie, you see Ash Barty, you get a little glimpse of Ian Thorpe and you see the best of Australia – not just kangaroos and koalas – but you see everything. It’s a really well done ad. I’d urge you to go and have a look. I’m sure there’d be people criticise it. People always criticise everything. But the universal view in here, everyone who’s seen it says it’s fantastic. I’m sure that’ll be music to the ears of the Minister for Tourism Simon Birmingham, who I think is in the UK at the moment for the launch of all of this.

Minister, good morning.

Simon Birmingham: Hello, John. It’s great to speak with you.

John Stanley: Now- well it probably is given that you’re probably hearing some good reviews of this so far. Because I guess you always have your heart in your mouth, don’t you, when you launch a tourism campaign cause it’s almost like an Australian sport to try and knock it down.

Simon Birmingham: Look, you do to an extent. And it’s important always to understand, you know, these campaigns are not targeted at Australians, they’re targeted of course at the international markets where they’re being released. And this one is the first one to give some life to that Philausophy strategy that was released recently by Tourism Australia. And what we said at the time was it would be executed in different ways in different markets and was really all about trying to bring the Australian personality to life as well as all of those amazing scenes of features, outback wildlife that is so synonymous for tourism campaigns. That’s what we’ve sought to do here with Kylie, with Adam Hills, with Ian Thorpe, Shane Warne, a bunch of personalities, all of course with this very clever tactical placement from Tourism Australia of this matesong immediately before the airing of the Queen’s Speech in the UK.

John Stanley: Yeah. And look, as you say, you’ve targeted specifically the UK. So you got one line there where, you know essentially, there’s a nude beach and, you know, so- to reinforce that we’re perhaps a bit more relaxed than they are in the UK.

Simon Birmingham: Yeah, indeed. It’s also- and there’s some quirky little lyrics in there which are playing on the fact that, as we saw from the recent UK election, the Brits are well and truly over the Brexit debate and things that have been dragging them down a bit in terms of their psyche over the last year or two. And so this is really a message to say: you know you might think you now deserve a little bit of escapism. You want a break and, well, your long standing friends, your mates in Australia, they can give you the time of your life. And certainly from those who live in the UK who I’ve spoken with, they tell me it’s really hitting the right nerve, striking the right call in terms of appealing to the psyche and sentiment of Brits at present.

John Stanley: So is there a subtle element here of saying: alright, well look, you’re turning away from Europe. You’re not going to be part of Europe any more so what about having a look down here at the old Commonwealth and go- back to the future, look at Australia.

Simon Birmingham: Definitely a bit of that too. We’re your old mates, your long standing friends, you can rely on us. That’s the key part of the messaging as well as all of those beautiful images and experiences that we highlighted. Now the British market, some 700,000 British tourists came to Australia over the last 12 months. It’s our fourth largest tourism market. They’re some of our longest staying visitors. They spend around $5000 per person each. So it’s crucial that we continue to invest in the market and that’s exactly what we’re doing with this campaign.

John Stanley: Yeah. One of the people in your government is a former head of Tourism Australia. Some bloke called Scott Morrison. Did you run any of this past him to see what he thinks?

Simon Birmingham: The creative is all well and truly the work of the Tourism Australia team and their creative agencies. But I did have a yak(*) to the PM a good few weeks or even probably a couple of months to go now about the concept that was being worked up and he loves the sound of it. And I hope and trust he loves the execution as much as we hope the British people do.

John Stanley: Yeah. So in relation to this- so you’re saying there’s going to be more of these, so we might get an American version of this featuring, I guess, someone who might to Americans be like Kylie is to Brits, is that what we’re saying?

Simon Birmingham: Yeah, we won’t- we won’t be replicating the same sort of song and idea there. It’s, you know, different horses for different courses in that sense. A couple of years ago, we released the latest Dundee campaign in the US which features particularly Chris Hemsworth quite heavily and was aired during the Super Bowl. That was a huge investment at the time and we’re still really pushing elements of that campaign in terms of the more targeted pieces that follow on from these sorts of big launches. You know, it’s not just one big ad that airs over a few weeks and sit back and relax. It’s about getting awareness and getting people thinking. And then of course with a whole bunch of partners, airlines, hotels, travel companies and the like following through with a lot of practical placements of online ads and other things over the months and even years that follow to make sure that you convert the interest and the hype into bookings and people who come and spend dollars in our pubs and importantly at this time of concern about bushfire affected and drought affected communities, especially getting people out into regional Australia. And tourism expenditure in Australia, more than 40 cents in every dollar spent is spent in regional Australia and we really want to drive that from our international visitors where we can.

John Stanley: Yeah, two quick ones in terms of feedback we’ve had here. Look, I’ve been to Uluru a couple of times and I don’t think you need to climb it. I think the way to do it is to look at it and be at the foot of it. But people are emailing and saying, well, you know: you’re showing Uluru in the ad but you can’t actually climb it. What do you say to that?

Simon Birmingham: There’s a whole lot of other experiences that you can undertake. And of course the light show that people see at nighttime at Uluru is spectacular. And at the last election, we made a promise to invest in developing further Indigenous owned and operated tourism businesses. And we know from all our research that a lot of travelers who can afford to travel to a country like Australia want authentic cultural experiences too, and so really making sure we’ve got the Indigenous tourism product to be able to sell to international visitors that’s culturally genuine, that’s authentic, and that can happen right alongside something like Uluru and really blend the stories of Indigenous culture with the iconic Outback.

John Stanley: I did have one glass half-empty fellow also sent me a note saying: well hang on, what about all the smoke and the bushfires and the like. Is it appropriate be doing this at this time?

Simon Birmingham: Look, these sorts of campaigns, of course they’re a long time in the planning and the slot was booked for the Queen’s Speech, to be alongside that months ago. It’s unfortunate to an extent that it comes at the same time that you see international news services covering stories of fires. But it’s also one of the reasons why it’s important that we continue to invest in the tourism marketing. The fires will pass. Communities need to rebuild and people who see this ad today will be making bookings to travel in six months’ time, nine months’ time, 12 months’ time when we need to make sure that our tourism industry is well and truly on its feet thriving so that those regional communities can get the support they deserve for the future.

John Stanley: All right, Minister. I appreciate your time. Thank you.

Simon Birmingham: My pleasure. Thanks so much, John.

John Stanley:  Minister for Tourism Simon Birmingham.