By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Warning: Yeoh Siew Hoon’s article is rated PG. Profane language is used liberally throughout, so reader discretion is advised.
When my friends in Australia first sent me an email titled, “So where the bloody hell are you?”, I thought, “Bloody typical. So rude, so direct, so upfront. Just like Australians.”
I was going to shoot back a reply saying “None of your f……. bloody business” (just to prove that we Asians can swear as well as them) when I realised they were writing to tell me about the brand new A$180 million advertising campaign launched by the Minister for Tourism Fran Bailey.
“So Where the Bloody Hell Are You?” is a campaign designed to make tourists sit up and take notice, and book their trip right away. “It is a distinctively Australian invite that says, come to our place now,” the minister said.
Well, the minister is right in one sense. It did make me sit up and take notice, and then I laughed my bloody head off.
I laughed because I want the job of the advertising agency that came up with that bloody tagline – imagine, being paid that kind of money to swear at your customers.
I tell you, it’s a bloody dream job.
Now I don’t have the same kind of job as you that requires me to deal with bloody customers (ie people like me) every day but if I did, I swear I’d want to swear at me all the time. I don’t do it because I know I could get badly punched, not bloody paid.
So I’d like to thank the Australians for liberating us from that bloody silly notion – whoever wrote that management book that said we shouldn’t swear at our customers should be bloody hanged. They are to blame for our f……. stress levels. Swearing is not hazardous to your health, unlike smoking.
I have to confess though that I am bloody confused as I am sure some Australians are as well. Just two years ago, the Australians wanted us to see them “in a different light” – a softer, gentler, more emotional side – with their new branding “Australia: A Different Light”.
Now they want us to see them as they are – direct, upfront, open, friendly folks. The TV commercials which show frames of real Australians saying, “We’ve bought you a beer”, “We’ve got the sharks out of the pool” and “We’ve turned on the lights” are really a way of saying, “This is who we bloody are, this is what we bloody have, so what the hell are you doing over there, get your butt over here now.”
Fran Bailey calls it “unashamedly Australian”.
Now some of my Australian friends told me they cringed when they heard the tagline but I’d like to reassure them that really it will not cast Australia in a different light from that first different light.
We have always enjoyed the humour and honesty of Australia. It’s just that we may have to get used to being sworn at when what you really want is our money.