East Coast Wine Trail

East Coast Wine Trail
East Coast Wine Trail

Friday, 3 January 2020

Australia produces the worst-timed tourism campaign ever

Australia's new Matesong campaign to entice British tourists Down Under might well go down in history as the most ill-conceived, poorly-timed advertising promotion of all time.

No less than $15 million of taxpayers' money was spent on the Kylie Minogue-fronted campaign, launched over the Christmas-New Year holiday period.

The thinking was that chilled-to-the-bone Brits shivering in the middle of winter would be enticed to Australia's sunny beaches rather than the much-closer options of Spain, Portugal and other European destinations.

What the Tourism Australia team failed to take into account is that for the past four or five years different parts of Australia have been ablaze with bush fires over the Christmas-New Year holidays.

As I write, parts of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania are in flames. There have been 19 deaths, 27 people are unaccounted for and several thousand people have fled their homes.

Millions of cuddly koalas, wombats and wallabies have also perished.

A mass evacuation effort is underway at Mallacoota in East Gippsland, where military personnel are escorting 963 people onto a navy ship that will take them on a 20-hour sea voyage to Western Port outside Melbourne.

The air quality in several Australian cities is among the worst in the world as a result of the bushfires.

The fire-ravaged town of Cobargo. Pic: Niki Hutteman

The Australian fires, and the ham-fisted response of reptilian skank prime minister Scott Morrison - whose first thought was to go on holiday to Hawaii with his family - have been all over the media in not only Britain, but other tourist markets including the United States.

Morrison earlier this year refused to meet with fire service chiefs and has been slow to react to public outrage.

Today's New York Post says: "Australia’s hapless prime minister was forced to retreat from a fire-ravaged rural village when residents — one of them holding a goat on a leash — jeered him out of town over his response to the natural disaster.

"Footage of Scott Morrison’s abysmal reception in the New South Wales village of Cobargo went viral Thursday after residents refused to shake his hand — telling their leader to “piss off” and slamming him as a “scumbag” and “idiot.”

Initial criticism of the campaign centred on the fact that it did not "portray a modern and multicultural Australia" and its cringe-worthy cliches.

Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said: "I understand that frolicking on the beach and playing with cute marsupials is something that some Australians may think is not projecting ourselves in a way that shows the full sophistication of the nation.

"But tourism advertising campaigns aren't targeted at Australian audiences, they're targeted at the audience where the campaign runs and in this case, that's the UK."

The major complication was that the advertising blitz rolled out at the same time British media was saturated with coverage of the bush fires, which had been predicted after drought conditions.

The Australian state of New South Wales - in which Sydney is situated - has declared a week-long state of emergency starting on Friday as the bush fires continue to spread.

Holidaymakers are being told to leave before Saturday because dangerous conditions will be "the same or worse than New Year's Eve".

Since September, 18 people have died in the bush fires and more than 1,200 homes have been destroyed. At least 17 people remain missing.

Supplies of fuel and essentials in shops are running low in some towns.

Birmingham said the campaign was scheduled many months in advance and the clash could not be avoided. It is, however, looming as money wasted.

The $15 million spent on Matesong is the largest investment Tourism Australia has made in the UK in more than a decade.

Instead, the world watched as leaders in the states of New South Wales and Victoria both declared a state of emergency - and as Prime Minister Morrison was booed and jeered when he visited towns affected by the blazes, which local fire departments, manned almost entirely by volunteers, were under-equipped to counter.


  1. Dear Windsor,
    Just to let you know that we are thinking of you folks down under during these trying times, wishing an abundance of rain to stop the fires in their tracks.
    Best regards from us all in the Northern Drakensberg mountains South Africa www.berghouse.co.za Stay safe!

  2. Many thanks. OK in Tasmania for now.