Australians are generally not averse to ruffling a few feathers but it seems Tourism Australia has finally decided it’s time to draw a line under the “where the bloody hell are you?” incident.
The tourism board, which spends more than £30m a year trying to attract tourists Down Under, has handed the ad account to DDB Worldwide. The incumbent, M&C Saatchi, was dropped from the pitch process in May.
DDB Worldwide has already promised the new campaign won’t use any bad language. Chris Brown, group managing director of DDB Sydney, told The Australian: “We have no plans to use any profanities.” The Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd, earlier called the infamous campaign “an absolute rolled gold disaster” that had failed to yield any significant benefits for the tourism industry.
The controversial campaign was thought very tame in Australia, but upset British sensibilities for the use of the word “bloody”, with dozens of complaints to the advertising watchdog. The Advertising Standards Authority restricted the TV ad to after the 9pm watershed and ordered the removal of roadside billboards, but allowed the campaign to continue in print. Australia’s then tourism minister Fran Bailey branded this “an absolutely, incredibly ludicrous stance” and a huge double standard given the FCUK billboards were permitted in the UK.
The ad, which sparked its own spoof, aired worldwide to varying reactions. It ran uncensored in New Zealand and the United States but with the simple slogan “so where are you?” in Singapore.
The Brits weren’t the only ones to get upset. The Canadians also took offence, though their objection was to the word “hell” rather than “bloody” and the shot of a half-empty glass of beer, which breached advertising regulations because it showed people enjoying alcohol (full glasses would, apparently, have been fine).
DDB’s new campaign will feature Australian screen stars Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman, currently appearing in the film Australia. And it will all be in the best possible taste, of course.