Tourism Australia pauses ‘Matesong’ ad campaign as UK viewers watch scenes of bushfire carnage

$15 million can buy you a star-studded advertising campaign, but as Tourism Australia has learned, it can’t give you control over the timing of natural disasters.

Key points:

  • The ‘Matesong’ campaign rolled out on Christmas Day, encouraging would-be UK tourists to visit their ‘mates’ down under
  • But the idyllic lifestyle depicted in the ad was at odds with scenes of bushfire devastation
  • Tourism Australia has confirmed parts of the campaign will be paused while the bushfire situation continues

The advertising body has “paused” parts of its ‘Matesong’ campaign amid the devastation of Australia’s bushfire crisis, scenes of which have been broadcast to horrified onlookers around the world.

The ad campaign was broadcast to British audiences immediately before the Queen’s speech on Christmas Day, and was headed by singer Kylie Minogue.

The multi-million dollar video encouraged UK viewers, fed up with Brexit negotiations, to “turn off the news” and escape to Australia for a trip to the beach or a game of backyard cricket.

But concerns emerged almost immediately that the easy-going lifestyle depicted in the advertisement was at odds with scenes of bushfire carnage simultaneously airing on UK news channels.

Whether you love or hate the Tourism Australia ad, you’d have to admit that its release is poorly timed. Half the country is either on fire or covered in smoke. May as well gone with “Come visit Australia: get an early preview of Armageddon”

Timing of ad ‘unfortunate’

Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham initially defended the advertisement, noting the campaign was planned months in advance.

“It’s unfortunate to the extent that it comes at the same time that you see international news services covering stories of fires,” he said.

Kylie Minogue sits on a chair in a red swimsuit on Sandringham Beach.

PHOTO: The 3-minute ‘Matesong’ clip features Kylie Minogue, Adam Hills, Shane Warne, Ash Barty, Ian Thorpe, and was penned by Eddie Perfect. (Supplied)

“But it’s also one of the reasons why it’s important that we continue to invest in 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.”

Campaign was a ‘long-term play’ but will be paused indefinitely

As international and domestic celebrities pledged their support for firefighting efforts across Australia, a Tourism Australia spokesperson confirmed on Sunday some of the Matesong campaign activity had been paused.

“In light of the current situation in Australia, we have reduced some of our campaign activity in the UK,” the spokesperson said.

“We continue to monitor the situation daily and will continue to review our planned activity over the coming days, weeks and months.”

The spokesperson said many potential tourists who were exposed to the advertisement would not actually travel to Australia for more than 12 months.

“The campaign has been a long time in the planning and is a long-term play to attract UK visitors to Australia in the coming years,” the spokesperson said.

“Whilst bushfires continue to impact parts of Australia, many areas of the country are unaffected and most tourism businesses are still open.

“We hope that our Matesong campaign will provide inspiration for our friends in the UK to plan a future trip, and we also hope that this demonstrates to those tourism areas impacted by the fires that we will continue to back them now and into the future.”

Source: ABC

Sourced by Mike Barrow

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