She praised the previous ‘Crocodile Dundee’ campaign as “fantastic” and “super shareable”, saying it successfully captured the larrikin nature of Australian culture while also showcasing important landmarks.
“You go to a country to see stuff. And we seem to have this cultural cringe about wanting to showcase things like the Opera House and Uluru, but that’s the stuff people come to see.
“When you go to Paris, you go to see the Eiffel Tower. When you go to London, you go to Buckingham Palace. Those things are iconic for a reason.”
The “Come share our Philausophy” campaign launched at the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday in front of guests and media, including a surprise appearance by Chris Hemsworth.
Ms Madigan said the campaign would have been effective in convincing people to move here, but not to come as a tourist – but saved her biggest criticism for the word “Philausophy”.
“It’s the worst dad joke I’ve heard. And given how many people you’re targeting are from non-English speaking backgrounds it makes no sense at all. It’s actually terrible.”
Tourism Australia responded to Ms Madigans claim by pointing out that the Facebook video has been viewed 200000 times, with over 2500 shares. They also said Uluru will be featured in the full campaign
Tourism expert Dr David Beirman said it was “an interesting campaign”, but agreed that the message could be lost in translation.
“I don’t know if everybody will understand what they’re getting at. It will probably go down well in western countries,” he said.
“It may not go well in Asia, and particularly China which is the core market. The Australian philosophy is something that is a bit quirky, which is good, but there’s a fairly good possibility it might confuse non-English speakers.”
The international rollout will be phased and includes customised marketing in the United Kingdom, USA and China, which are Australia’s top three markets for visitor spend.
“‘Come live our Philausophy’ is a single global campaign but will be adapted, localised and executed in different ways in different key markets,” a Tourism Australia spokesperson said.
“The insight and Philausophy wordplay/construct were pre-tested in market, as we do with all our campaigns. Some of the slogans will be adapted in key markets to ensure they translate and resonate with locals.”
Dr Beirman, a UTS Business School lecturer specialising in tourism, has worked with Tourism Australia in the past and noted the success of the NZ 100% Pure was because “everybody can relate to it, everybody can understand it, it translates very well”.
“If you’re going to have a slogan, it’s going to have to be something that’s as clear as a bell to everybody. The simpler it is, the more likely it’s going to succeed.”
He spent 12 years running the Israeli government tourism office. They had different approaches for people of various religions, history buffs and other travellers.
“Tourism Australia, generally speaking in its approach to China and India and many other Asian markets, have focused on the clean air, the wildlife, the open space – and it’s usually probably better to focus on tourism qualities and benefits rather than something which is probably a little bit vague like ‘Philausophy’,” he said.
Although he thought the general thrust of the campaign was good, he said that a one-size-fits-all approach to different markets was not really going to work.
“I think it’s a bit better of a campaign than ‘Where the bloody hell are ya?’, which worked very well in the west and not at all in Asia.
“It probably won’t be understood clearly in the Asian market, and lets face it, our largest market is China and our fastest-growing is India. So they’re the places TA needs to be pitching at.”
Matt Bungard is a journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald.