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This is a self-funded case study using our ad testing solution.
Ask any Australian what they think of themselves and their country — and its unique cultural idiosyncrasies — and you’ll likely get a vastly different response than if you were to ask the same question of someone from an entirely different country.
What might seem boring and cliché for someone who’s spent much of their life in one country, may instead be enchanting and alluring to the rest of the world. However, this isn’t a phenomenon unique to Australia; we see the exact same pattern play out the world over.
But it’s this clash of perspective that had the Australian advertising ‘bubble’ up in arms about Tourism Australia’s newest global campaign release, Come and Say G’Day. Harking back to the days of Paul Hogan putting his now infamous ‘shrimps on the barbie’, the controversial campaign was seen by some Australians as lazily reinforcing generic tropes that did nothing but paint the country as hopelessly tired and dated.
If speaking about the campaign as a misrepresentation of modern Australia, this may well be the case; it’s true that most Australians (to international audiences’ potential dismay!) aren’t Akubra-wearing, kangaroo-riding adventure seekers.
However, it can be equally argued that tourism campaigns are more presentation than representation, and this is where a global perspective must be brought in. If the outside perception of Australia is that it’s a friendly country filled with friendly people, which features stunning landscapes and weirdly wonderful flora and fauna, then why not present that same picture to the rest of the world — in the most appealing way possible? Seems pretty simple, right?
Ultimately, all that matters is the campaign’s reception from the people in which it’s targeted. Full stop. Not the Australian public, not journalists, not academics, not ‘expert’ commentators from rival agencies. To put this argument to rest and to find out whether Ruby the Roo was in actual fact effective, we tested it amongst American travelers to see whether they held the same reservations as Australia’s harshest critics.
Our 3Cs methodology:
On the whole, Americans were enthralled with the ad. While not the most unique of animated adaptations, Ruby and Louie were found cute and adorable, eliciting a warm emotional response and helping maintain viewer engagement throughout. Moreover, people thoroughly enjoyed the iconic scenery, effectively highlighting the many and varied picturesque attractions with which Australia is blessed.
Instead of seeing the Sydney Opera House as tired and cliché, Americans recognized it as one of the country’s most identifiable assets. Likewise for the quintessentially Australian kangaroos and wombats, which were overwhelmingly synergistic with what people expected from the ‘wide brown land’. Cues even extended to the soundtrack, with the ad featuring a modern rendition of Men at Work’s unofficial Australian anthem, Land Down Under. As a result, Americans were left in little doubt as to the country being promoted, creating a clear and simple set of memory structures which will ensure Australia is the ad’s ultimate beneficiary.
The ad presented Australia as a country filled with friendly and down-to-earth people. Along with the pleasant scenery, it created perceptions of Australia being a warm and welcoming destination, and a country filled with wonderous adventures waiting to be explored. This helped position Australia as offering something unique compared to the rest of the world, and subsequently predisposed Americans toward choosing the country over others as a future travel destination.
While it’s true that Australians may have rolled their eyes at the clichéd pan across Sydney Harbor, it was instead interpreted by Americans as iconic and majestical. And while local creative teams might’ve scoffed at the rehashing of a 30-year-old catchphrase, it instead instantly triggered positive memory structures in the minds of international viewers.
It’s a reminder for advertisers again that you are not your customer, and testing advertising amongst the people who are is the only way to reliably ascertain its effectiveness. Our recommendation to advertisers is to block out the external noise; the uninformed, vile, and jaded critics — often with their own unscrupulous agendas. Instead, focus your energies entirely on the customer, with the 3Cs representing your ultimate source of truth.