Steve Jones’ Say

AS I assume it does for everyone on solo long haul flights, my mind wandered as I made my latest trip back to the motherland.

Movies and magazines will get you so far through a 24-hour journey – sleep plays a bit-part role in the world of the economy traveller – so there is always time to ponder the meaning of life.

This month’s column is, in fact, being written at 38,000 ft somewhere over Germany.

Incidentally, the first leg of the trip, to Dubai, was barely a third full. Not great for Emirates, but it afforded that rare luxury of four seats to myself. Who needs business class when you’ve got a fully lie-flat bed for a fraction of the cost and almost one-to-one personal service?

My idle mind turned to a trip to China eight years ago with Tourism Australia. It was to cover the launch of There’s Nothing Like Australia (TNLA), the marketing slogan that is still with us today.

For how much longer is uncertain.

Tourism Australia has invited agencies to pitch for its creative account, a move that inevitably throws the future of TNLA into doubt.

The slogan and initial campaign was created by DDB back in 2010. Since then it has underpinned pretty much all Tourism Australia’s advertising and marketing activity. It even survived a change of agency in 2013, with then TA boss Andrew McEvoy, anxious for continuity.

There has yet to be any such certainty provided by John O’Sullivan, although that’s not unexpected. If you must seek new ideas it would be unwise to restrict the creative thinking of those agencies who throw their hat in the ring.

But survive it should. For years Tourism Australia struggled for advertising continuity. Even today it is lampooned for the ill-conceived “Where the bloody hell are you?” schmozzle where someone thought it a good idea to swear at prospective visitors.

With TNLA, they finally hit upon something. A simple and effective message that works across all media and any number of international markets and ad campaigns.

Tourism New Zealand’s 100% Pure is always held up as the vanguard of tourism marketing. That is partially because TNZ simply stuck with it. It created a consistency of brand message that consumers began to relate to and, critically, stakeholders could work with without fear of constant changes in strategic direction.

Dismantling such a sound marketing pillar as TNLA would be a terrific shame.

Still on tourism bodies, Dubai is closing its local operation, a shock if only because the emirate has had a presence in Australia for so long, almost 20 years.

It prompted one of those statements that attempts to dress up bad news as somehow positive.

Dubai said running the Australian and NZ operations from its global headquarters “aims at deepening the direct long-term alliances with key partners in the region including airlines and trade, forging strategic collaborations in line with the longstanding commitment to, and confidence in, the potential of both markets”.

What meaningless drivel.

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