Imagine being Nick Baker, Tourism Australia’s marketing boss. Your job is to package an image of Australia, and sell it to the world. You must also convince Australians, who are paying for your work through their tax dollars, that you’re doing the right thing. Everyone’s got an opinion. Today, Mr Baker took to the stage at Mumbrella 360 to face his toughest critics – the advertising industry.
Addressing an audience of his peers, Mr Baker accounted himself pretty well, convincing the audience that phase 2 of ‘Nothing Like Australia’ (a tagline he called a ‘brand truth) was a winner, or at least has some merit.
He acknowledged that while many would like to see a more sophisticated image, it was the land itself that had to be the hero.
“We viewed the land as a character in this,” he said. Hence the focus on iconic Aussie scenery in the campaign’s bedrock – the ‘Nothing Like Australia’ TV ad which cost an astonishing $4 million to produce.
Some in the audience viewed as a massive amount of money for what is a nice piece of film and music, but certainly not ground breaking.
However, Mr Baker said it was necessary to spend that kind of money just on the film alone – “these things aren’t cheap to make” – because AV is now also a huge part of the online experience: YouTube, Facebook and the rest.
He also highlighted the logistical difficulties of just being in the right place at the right time to get the best vision. By way of illustration, Mr Baker said a shoot had been booked for Hamilton Island but with two cyclones sitting off the coast the plane had to turn around and try somewhere else where it was sunny.
Bit ironic given that the Tourism Australia film crew encountered exactly the kind of conditions that have been hindering tourism in Queensland over the past couple of years.
There were three other things Mr Baker concentrated on: Social media, mobile via a slick new app designed for tablets, and Chinese tourists. TA says social media has been a very successful part of its tourism marketing with more than 3 million Facebook fans and will continue as a major focus of its activities.
Mr Baker said the Facebook community is very active with more than 1400 images posted every week.
Mobile is the next frontier and TA has invested heavily in a tablet application that allows users to download an Australian ‘holiday’ book that’s based on the destinations featured in the film. It seems that families are the target here.
And then there is China. Always China. TA have made a massive bet that Chinese tourists will drive the Australian tourism industry over the next decade.
It’s the primary advertising focus and you get the feeling that Mr Baker would not care what anyone thinks provided the Chinese market keeps growing at its present rapid rate: 500,000 visitors and 20% growth since 2010 in a flat market.
Keep that kind of momentum going and nobody can really complain, although there’s no doubt they will. That simply comes with the territory.