This might be the best tourism ad ever made
Camped on Kangaroo Island once. Great place. Swam naked on a pristine beach and ate the best damn King George Whiting ‘n’ chips you’ve ever had in your life.
Update: last night on the ABC’s Media Watch it was revealed that celebrities were paid $750 to Tweet positively about KI. This article was posted hours before that, purely by coincidence, and we weren’t paid a cent. So there.
Saw rare glossy black cockatoos, koalas, seals, you name it. The seals are hilarious. They waddle up the dunes on the island’s wild southern shore, then roll back down like kids on a grassy slope. Good times.
For me, KI was a wild, sand-between-your-toes, hardly-spend-a-cent kind of holiday. That’s why I was initially bewildered by the artsy ads aimed at an upmarket audience, which are currently in their final week of an eight week eastern states TV run. Well, turns out SA Tourism know exactly what they’re doing.
Just as Melbourne has positioned itself as a haven for that special class of people who enjoy flouncing about chasing large allegorical balls of string, the people marketing Kangaroo Island have realised that cashed-up middle aged folk can be lured with the 60 second equivalent of an obtuse French film set to a soulful acoustic soundtrack.
And it’s working. My wife loves it. Everyone’s wife loves it. Husbands love it too, and SA Tourism Marketing Director David O’Loughlin has the numbers to prove it.
“Anecdotally, I can tell you from some of our wholesalers that Kangaroo Island sales are up significantly this month in NSW, Victoria and Adelaide,” Mr O’Loughlin says. “Visitation to the KI website and southaustralia.com are up strongly, and passenger numbers are up on the KI ferry.
Mr O’Loughlin says he aimed the ad at people seeking an active holiday rather than a passive one. To do that, he had to appeal to people’s sense of mystery. “We wanted to build some mythology around the island,” he explains.
He did that, all right. The ad is mythology central. Here’s the bit where the kid dresses up like Max in Where the Wild Things Are:
Here’s the bit where the people ride their bikes on the beach, in a scene referencing the entire life work of Depardieu and pretty much every French film ever made.
Here’s another Where the Wild Things Are reference. This one’s for the seafarers. In truth, the closest most KI visitors get to this sort of action is when they’re heaving their Vili’s pie overboard on the ferry. Still, it doesn’t hurt to dream.
And here’s the bit that you can only assume references Robert Frost’s poem The Road not Taken (which is often mistakenly called The Road Less Travelled). Check it. Two kids, a road, a little pre pubescent sexual tension thrown into the mix. The artful frame of a half dead eucalypt. What’s not to love?
And of course, the whole thing is set to the same Eddie Vedder music which was used in Into the Wild, the movie which was all about the escapist fantasy of leaving consumer culture behind forever for somewhere wilder and more elemental.
James Rickard from Adelaide ad agency KWP deliberately planned most of this. With the skill of an acupuncturist, he cleverly designed the ad to prick us in certain nostalgic places.
“We really wanted to demonstrate an emotional connection between what the island provides visitors and the viewer,” Mr Rickard told The Punch.
“Tourism SA told us the last thing they wanted was a standard travelogue that said ‘stay here, do this’. We wanted the fantasy of escapism. If you sum it up in one word, it’s freedom.
“Those two children represent that sense of adventure. They are our inner child, the simpler more innocent moments in life. She is poetic and beautiful and has the sense of exploration. He is adventurous and dynamic. Their paths cross on the island.”
The ad is now working so well that some people are picking up the phone to book as soon as they see it. And really, it’s good to see our tourism bosses get something right for a change. That’s especially the case for the South Australian mob, who once came up with history’s worst ever tourism slogan with the unforgettable “Adelaide: going all the way”.
The beauty of this ad is that it reads its market perfectly. Middle-aged Australians with a bit of spare cash love nothing better than a holiday destination which feels real. They’re not up for tacky, unless it’s the ironic tackiness of a place like Vegas.
Most of us are like this. We want real. We want sand between our toes and decent showers to wash it all off again at the end of the day. Throw in a sense of white man dreaming, aka nostalgia, and you’ve hooked us like a whiting. We’ll be on the next plane. Or in the case of KI, the next plane, bus, ferry and rental car.
Oh, and to use a word they absolutely love in ad agencies, here’s a lovely piece of “synergy” for you. The last time Pearl Jam was in town, lead singer Eddie Vedder (the soulful ad soundtrack guy) went surfing out on Kangaroo island!
This ad has really struck a chord, even if in reality not every KI experience is as windswept and moody as the tourism folk would have you believe.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…