Gruen on PhilAUSophy: 'Nothing should be getting lost in translation'

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 7 November 2019

Tourism Australia's latest campaign, PhilAUSophy, was subject to widespread criticism on last night's episode of Gruen, with the entire panel taking aim at its "confusing" messaging.

Regulars Todd Sampson and PwC's Russel Howcroft were joined by TBWA Sydney MD Nitsa Lotus and Leo Burnett chief strategy officer Emily Taylor.

Tourism Australia released the $38 million campaign to mixed responses from both the advertising industry and consumers, last week.

The next iteration of There's Nothing Like Australia will be rolled out in 15 key tourism markets over the next three years to attract more visitors to Australia. The biggest criticism so far is the word "philausophy", which The Guardian called an "awkward, crow-barred pun".

The creative was developed by M&C Saatchi and Digitas, appointed to the account last year following a competitive pitch process that involved around 20 agencies.

Taylor was first out of the blocks, stating what she found "particularly weird" about the campaign, other than the debate around the pronunciation and spelling of the campaign, was that Tourism Australia felt the need to use a slogan at all.

She says tourism is one category where "nothing should get lost in translation".

Howcroft agreed, adding that not only is it difficult to invent a name in the first place but then to have it directly correlate with the concept of tourism made it even harder.

However, he believes the criticism has come in very quickly, whereas the next response should be to "wait and see".

"It's the support to the PhilAUSophy proposition that is going to matter, so how are we communicating our philosophy to a Chinese, British or American tourist," Howcroft says.

"That is the trick to this. You've got to up the ante and investment on the support and now lower the communication on the 'AUSophy' element."

Lotus labelled the campaign "convoluted" and remarked on the fact that the campaign was not targeted towards Australians, who may be able to understand the slogan better than others.

She says the problem lies around how other markets, the ones the campaign really needs to speak to, will react to something that has already caused confusion locally.

"The fact that you have to unpack it and explain it [is an issue]. If you're looking at the markets that this is looking at, we aren't marketing to ourselves, yes we play a part in it but you are marketing to China, Japan and South East Asia, so that line needs to land," Lotus says.

"Slogans are good when they capture the essence [of an idea] in a very simple way and capture a positioning so that person can understand and create the right memory structures for that brand."

Reflecting on the other elements of the campaign, which included a book sharing the same title as the campaign, which isn't available until next year and a three-minute video, used only for social media channels, Sampson says the issue with the campaign stems from a "process stuff-up".

"They should have known that putting this industry film out, people would automatically jump to the conclusion that was the ad, then combine that with a s**t line and you really set yourself up for problems and they have," he says.

"It's very hard to differentiate in this market 'what is Australia', so instead of addressing the barriers, which are time and distance, they decided the people are unique and that 'we could own that'. The problem is people want to dream about Australia and what it could be, they want it to be idealised for all the things that we might find boring.

"There is a massive difference between how we want to be perceived and how we need to be perceived [externally] to sell tickets."

Last week, AdNews spoke to multiple creative executives to get their thoughts on the campaign and whether it hit the mark, with opinions split.

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