Image via WikipediaLast week's announcement by Trade Minister Simon Crean that the Government will spend $20
Image via Wikipediamillion in ''an open invitation to all Australians to create (another) new brand for Australia'' starts a further round of misused funds.
For as long as I can remember, the so-called marketing of Australia (essentially for tourism - as if perceptions of a country are filed in different, insulated, mental boxes such as tourism, trade, investment) has been based on the erroneous belief that this is all about advertising campaigns, logos, slogans and all the irrelevant promotional noise that goes with it.
As the story says, ''it could be a logo or a few words'', reinforcing that politicians work to a different agenda than most of those in the real world. Aside from getting a headline and pushing the spinners' view that we have a populist leadership ''listening to its public'', it is, again, a total waste of money, time and resources.
The result has been a country struggling to find or believe in its own identity, lurching from one ''idea of the year'' to the next.
ask yourself this question: off the top of your head,
what are the ''lines'' for Thailand,
Greece, the US, England, Ireland or any other
country that may excite your interest?
Image via Wikipedia
WHEN will successive federal governments and their minders stop throwing money at attempts to build Australia's profile, reputation and attraction to the rest of the world under the misguided claim that they are trying ''to build Australia's brand''?
Conventional wisdom points to the Paul Hogan barbie campaign as the gold standard. "It worked, so ergo it's the way to go … Let's have another one of them.'' It was a fluke of timing and enough world wanderers liked the thought of the sunshine and the larrikin personality to take a look at how we lived and what was on offer at the time. A tactical success but, hopefully, little to do with building a sustainable, truth-based brand.
Since then, the inevitable process has been: new minister, new minders, new advertising agency pitch, new research (maybe?), and new campaign launch.
Cover of Australia [Blu-ray]
Each of these predictable steps has been taken with little or no connection to the earlier campaign, and all of them done in the belief that this was all about ''building a brand for Australia''.
At a time when most companies are finding the truth about their brands - their perceived and real values and strengths against economic headwinds and competitive pressures - our politicians and their advisers are still locked into the old fallacy that brands are about logos and ''lines''.
Brand creation and building is not a fickle, faddish game of communications and gimmickry. (Regrettably, some company managers are unable or unwilling to accept this truism.)
Somebody in the Federal Government must know that brands are measures of what a company or even a country stands for: the truth of what it is, what it offers and its values. The same is true in the case of a country; it is not earned by what is said but by its behaviour.
The substance is the brand, not the superficial, passing signals. It is certainly not about an iconic piece of symbolism, or any graphic device, or any line of copy, no matter how clever it may look at the time.
Image by Arturo de Albornoz via Flickr
Most recently, we were embarrassed by the ''Where the bloody hell are you?'' campaign failure (better referred to as ''What the bloody hell were they thinking?''). This was followed by a request by the Rudd Government to Baz Luhrmann to create and produce a world-awakening communication off the back of the grand film spectacle, Australia. Another costly effort to be filed in the ''seemed like a good idea at the time'' tourism archives.
At least Crean has noted that he wants to take a more holistic view by recognising that our marketing must take in more than tourism. But, please, save the $20 million for now.
Image by CharlesFred via Flickr
Start spending some of it on research as the basis of a fact-based, seriously considered and imaginatively executed long-term strategy around what we want Australia to be, based on what we are and what we can be; and then how it is targeted around the world.
Before that, take a leaf out of the great ''I love New York'' campaign of many years ago and spend the time, money and resources to have the people who live here, the people who are central to the Australia you want to market, understand and believe in the promise you want to take to the world, so that they are committed to
Image via Wikipediabeing part of the delivery of the promise. That was the magic ingredient in the ''I love NY'' program, not just the line and the much-copied logo.
If Australians believe there is a serious, sustained commitment to a thoroughly developed marketing plan for Australia, despite the short-term focus of the political timetable, and they understand and embrace it, then some graphic and written campaign work, with long-term goals, not knee-jerk ''let's have another brand campaign'' thinking, may well be worth $20 million and a whole lot more.
For now, don't waste the money on this frivolous ''creative contest''. And for those people who still think it's a good idea, ask yourself this question: off the top of your head, what are the ''lines'' for Italy, France, Thailand, Greece, the US, England, Ireland or any other country that may excite your interest?
You can do you bit... join www.friends.auswathai.com and become a Ambassador for Australia or are you shy