The Australian tourist board recently unveiled a new slogan and campaign designed to entice visitors to sample its many, many delights. It’s a nice enough campaign, I like its double meaning and as always it is exquisitely shot. What caught my eye about it was that they are actively inviting the general public to take part in the campaign. They hope that people will upload photographs and write something explaining why they believe ‘there’s nothing like it’. Eventually the plan is to have thousands of endorsements, recommendations and images backing up the campaign which can be searched by visitors to their websites. Again this is quite a good idea and suggests a confident and forward thinking organisation; until you read the small print that is.
Andrew McEvoy, Managing Director of Tourism Australia explained that every image or text will be vetted three times and it will take down anything it doesn’t like. He further explained that as they are a marketing body they will be controlling the image of Australia portrayed. Which kind of makes me ask the question; ‘what’s the point of the campaign then?’ Why bother involving the public, why not simply tell your own story in the way advertisers have done for generations? Continue to preach rather than engage because that’s what you are doing here.
Australia is a fantastic country, I lived and worked there and have returned as a tourist. It truly is like nowhere else on earth and from a tourist destination perspective it is exceptional. It offers huge choice and on the whole it does it very well too. Which makes this censorship all the more puzzling. Sure you’ll get some disgruntled comments and maybe even some negative ones however that’s what makes this campaign (or at least its potential) all the more attractive. The fact that someone can be honest about a destination is surely a plus point for potential visitors. And it isn’t like the disgruntled can’t find another forum to vent their spleen if they wanted. If this campaign had really engaged the public and asked them to provide honest feedback and advice just imagine how popular it would have been. As it is, knowing that everything has been vetted first, simply devalues the information it provides.
The point of engaging the public is you allow them their say and you respond to them, not the other way round. Australia is a spectacular destination and should have no worries about what the vast majority of people will say about it.