Brandjacking Tourism

Posted Friday April 2, 2010 by John Gunders in |

Within hours of Tourism Australia announcing their new tourism campaign, There’s Nothing Like Australia, to be launched on 15 April, there was a spoof site registered under the domain http://www.nothinglikeaustralia.net. The campaign plans to mobilise social networking and user produced content to spread its message, a policy that might be a little risky, if the spoof is anything to go by.

The Australian reports that the tourism body is taking an unusually relaxed approach to the spoof:

Tourism Australia has had its new $150 million advertising campaign “There’s nothing like Australia” spoofed by a “brandjacker” using images of Lindy Chamberlain, the Cronulla riots and Steve Irwin.

But after investigating the website the tourism body has decided to take no action, despite the mock ads using TA’s intellectual property.

Of course, this isn’t the first time this has happened. The previous major campaign, the much maligned “Where the Bloody Hell Are You?” effort attracted a number of spoofs, most famously by Dan Ilic, and the one by the Chaser team. (Warning, possibly not safe for work). There’s even a New Zealand version. Here’s the original, if you don’t remember it.

Like these videos, the new spoof site takes the opportunity to poke some fun at Australian sacred cows (Steve Irwin, Lindy Chamberlain) and makes some political points about Cronulla and unamused conservatives. There’s also the obligatory New Zealand sheep joke, but you can’t have everything.

Tourism campaigns—along with things like the opening and closing ceremonies of major events—are some of the more public ways in which a national identity is constructed, and people feel strongly about the way in which the country and—by association—its people, are portrayed. Graeme Turner points to the fact that through tourism advertising, perhaps more than through any other cultural products, we are supplying a narrow selection of images, simulacra of Australian life to be replayed through the mass media all over the world. As the images eventually recirculate back home, Australian’s visions of leisure, fashion, lifestyle and cultural identity must in turn be shaped through, among other things, these same tourist promotions (Making it National: Nationalism and Australian Popular Culture, St Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1994, 117).

Hence the care with which governments produce these things, and the outrage when they get it wrong, which according to someone they always do. So I was a little surprised at the apparent casualness with which this current spook is being treated.

But then again, the TA people are advertisers, and any publicity is good, right?

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