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Rebranding Australia - From knockabout to knockout

The $20 million brand campaign to promote Australia’s products and services is a welcome opportunity to move away from the light-hearted approach taken by the tourism sector, says Dr Alexander Josiassen, a country image expert at Victoria University.

Dr Josiassen, a lecturer in VU’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Marketing said the Federal Government’s allocation this week of $20 million for the development of a cohesive brand promoting Australia’s trade, investment and education must be used to overcome the “happy-go-lucky” image associated with Australian tourism.

His research conducted earlier this year showed this approach is harmful to Australia’s $6 billion worth of high-tech exports, especially in the US, Australia’s largest market for information and communication products. 

“Our research with focus groups in the US showed that we are strongly anchored in their minds as a tourist destination only, mainly because of the way we promote ourselves abroad,” he said.

The controversial “where the bloody hell are you” campaign in the US has now been replaced by a multi-faceted campaign with slogans that include “come walk-about,” and “the new 7 wonders of nature.” 

 “The US is our leading customer for high-tech products, yet American consumers did not perceive us as being able to produce these goods. We found indications that Australian technology products are sold despite this image instead of because of it.” 

Dr Josiassen said whatever new brand the Government chooses, it should be strong and sustainable to ensure Australia gains a competitive advantage in more sophisticated products.

He pointed to the benefits other countries’ economies have had from developing a well thought out and strong image. Japan’s is focused on quality, Germany’s on skill and engineering, and Denmark’s on social responsibility and environmental care.

But rather than having an all-encompassing image for all Australia’s diverse range of products and services, Dr Josiassen said it might be better to develop individual country images customised for each sector.

“Australia’s wine industry, for example, has done a very successful job of creating an image abroad of good quality and affordability,” he said.  “It came from virtually zero exports to more than $2 billion in a very short time.”

However the wine industry was able to capitalise on some of the same selling points used to promote Australia as a tourist destination, unlike many other industries that face more of an up-hill battle, he said.

The Federal Government announced that it expects its new brand to be launched next February with an international launch in May, at Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

Dr Alexander Josiassen is available for comment.

Media Contact: Ann Marie Angebrandt, Media Officer
Marketing and Communications Department, Victoria University
Ph: (03) 9919 5487 or Mobile: 0403 556 001

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