Why Oprah is not coming to Western Australia

Have a look at this official promotional video for Western Australia and then we’ll talk. When I say ‘talk’ I mean ‘rant’.

Tourism marketing in Western Australia is famously abysmal. Look critically at this from the viewpoint of international tourism marketing. What is the positioning of Western Australia as a tourism product? What is it that distinguishes Western Australia from any other tourism destination in the world? Come on; I’m waiting!

It’s a product that doesn’t know what it is. The ad is a case study in poor strategic thinking.

Does the tourism authority think we the only place in the world with beaches and waterways? The only thing to be said in favour of Perth beaches is that they are quaint, reflecting the determination of generations to resist ANY tourism development of ANY sort on even ONE of them. Welcome to 1960.

Why do we have to re-assure people that there are designer clothing shops in Perth? Are we competing with Paris?

Who is the target market for this ad? If it is young people, are they going to fly 24 hours on a plane to drink beer in the Ocean Beach Hotel? “Well honey; it’s Carnivale in Rio or a beer in a pub in Perth. Toss a coin.”

If ‘relaxed lifestyle’ is all we have going for us; NEWSFLASH; that’s an immigration strategy, not a tourism strategy.

If local colour is what we’re selling, for God’s sake, don’t fill up the ad with bland-looking models acting badly. Use REAL people who look interesting. Let’s hear some Australian accents! Americans in particular find Australian accents very engaging; instead we serenade them with insipid guitar music.

Ironically, they’re using Russell Morris’s ‘The Real Thing’ as the sound track and they’ve completely emasculated the REAL version and turned it into MUZAC. The original is a fabulous arrangement which could be the basis for a very strong campaign and HOLD THE PHONE they’ve removed the emotional underpinning of the song; the line that says: “there’s a meaning there for me”. *Bangs head against desk*.

Now what is the only thing in this ad which will be remembered by international viewers? Close your eyes for a minute and pretend you’re not Australian. What stood out?

Kangaroos. The reason they keep putting kangaroos into ads for Australia is that research shows people love them. So, knowing that, do we create wildlife corridors close to the city and promote ourselves as the wild west of Australia? Do we invite tourists onto golf courses where kangaroos hang out? If Kings Park were populated with kangaroos and you could take your pet kangaroo for a hop along the beach, which city in Australia would Oprah be visiting?

Tourism marketing (like just about all marketing) is PRODUCT and BRANDING and not much else. We have neither product nor branding at present. Tourism Australia is absolutely correct to direct Oprah to Sydney, Melbourne and the Great Barrier Reef. They’re brands and Perth is not. How much do you want to bet Oprah will nurse a joey on camera?

Here’s a song about Perth.



  1. Mate, well said. Very well said. So well said that I think we’ve discussed this kind of thing over a beer, but I can’t really remember.

    Couple things:
    1) Was this an ad for Western Australia… or PERTH?
    2) If this was really meant to push WA, and Perth as well, then the message should be, “Camels in Broome! Cavernous cool things in the Kimberleys! Wine in Margaret River! Trees and ocean and nature in Esperance! Fly in and out of a city that doesn’t suck!”

    All up, this lack of branding and quite unsuccessful marketing says to me that you and me and make some serious coin by presenting proper marketing to this region. As a marketer, this excites me.

    But then, as a resident, do I really want more Americans here listening to the accents and petting roos while putting? Not particularly.

    At the end of the day, our isolation and lack of word-spreading is part of the charm, and I’ll take it.

    But boy howdy, SUCH an interesting discussion point. I sense more beers in our future…

  2. Well exactly, as you say it’s an ad for immigrants not tourists, immigrants that Western Australians apparently don’t fucking want anyway.
    There are the kangaroos on Heirisson island, which are almost kept secret, and are not promoted in any way. 1 minute out of the city and you can go right up to wild roos, but there are no signs and no promotion, and the place looks scarily deserted.
    I think Judd has it right, the unique things are not in Perth. All the good things about Perth are the lifestyle things. There is nothing for the quick visitor. Zero.

  3. “MetroCentric Twats”(©Rolly2008)!!

    I think I’ve said that before, somewhere.

    Make the place attractive and livable for the folks who want to live here and tourism will look after itself.
    Like my Great Granny would have said: “Try putting the horse in front of the cart.”

  4. Can’t agree with you @Rolly. If you accept that tourism is a good thing, you gotta create product and brand it. Good lifestyle stuff is not what tourists travel for. With the exception of back-packers, tourism is short stay.

    @Judd and @worstofperth; yeah, this was meant to be about Perth I think, though it didn’t say that anywhere on the vid and the only branding was Western Australia. Why so secretive? And yeah, I didn’t even know there were kangaroos on Heirisson Island.

  5. Brilliant article, I gained objective thought for my work, thanks. I gained affirmation that the decision makers at Tourism WA are incapacitated… We tried for 2 yrs to communicate with their office and the Ministers but “no one can afford to pay attention” (unless you need a extensive taxi ride?) By contrast the Tourism offices o.seas are enthusiastic and hospitalble so we promote that location (Tourism WA is a negative ambassador for their Industry)

  6. The soundtrack drew me into a meditative state, similar to that achieved when driving anywhere out of Perth. Rises to peak, fades out then starts again. Rooftop rooftop rooftop(peak)Rooftop, thank god we’re out of that limestone hell. Then it starts again – aaagh! Mandurah

  7. @Naked Wombat and @Pete. Agreed. Given that it’s got harder recently due to the Australian dollar’s appreciation it’s all the more important to present DIFFERENCE rather than homogeneity. Ads that look like every other shopping or tourism ad are just not helping tourism operators.

  8. Mate – you hit it on the head – been T WA – observed / interacted with – since ’96 – still a rudderless and oddly built ship – happy to swap notes.

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