Opinion

Credit where it’s due: Nick Baker

creditLogoFNl-234x1021Nick Baker has shouldered the responsibility of marketing Australia as a holiday destination not just to the rest of the world, but to Aussies as well. As he finishes his seven year stint at Tourism Australia tomorrow, we give Credit Where it’s Due to his efforts.    

Imagine coming into a new job as a marketer where the last campaign has just been described as a “rolled gold disaster” by the Prime Minister.

This is what faced Nick Baker when he came into the big chair of chief marketing officer at Tourism Australia, inheriting the infamous 2006 ‘So Where the Bloody Hell Are You?’ campaign that did more for Lara Bingle’s career than Australia’s image.

Nick Baker at Mumbrella 360, 2014.

Nick Baker at Mumbrella 360, 2014.

However, in the course of his seven years at the helm of one of the country’s largest and most closely scrutinised marketing organs, Baker has transitioned Brand Australia from brash and bogan to sophisticated and gourmet, yet still retained a sense of fun and identity.

The 2010 extension of the incredibly successful Best Job in the World campaign from Tourism Queensland was a prime example of this evolution.

An incredibly simple idea from then agency Cummins Nitro, creating a job of being a caretaker of Hamilton Island for six months, and opening it up to the world, had gained massive media exposure and a considerable bump in tourism for the Sunshine state. So the decision to create six dream jobs around the country garnered a similar huge response.

And in 2011 when YouTube was looking for a place to bring together an orchestra of musicians from 33 countries who had never met before or played together, what better place to do it than Sydney Opera House. Of course supported by TA, and Baker.

Then of course there was the coup of bringing US chat show queen Oprah Winfrey Down Under, and her entire audience as well.

An exercise then TA managing director Andrew McEvoy told a Mumbrella 360 audience had gained enormous exposure, including 140,000 Americans booking holidays to Oz on the back of it.

And then there’s the big brand campaigns.

Music has featured heavily under Baker’s watch, and in 2010 the world was introduced to the irritatingly catchy ‘There’s Nothing Like Australia’ ditty.

In 2012 TA used the song ‘It’s like Love’ set against sweeping landscapes of iconic Australian locations in a campaign from DDB which aimed to build on the ‘There’s Nothing Like Australia’ work. The ad showcased examples of accommodation options and experiences and had a massive $250m marketing budget behind it. It was the first time TA debuted an ad in China.

The most recent approach, which saw TA tap a new creative agency in the form of Clemenger BBDO Sydney, positions Australia as the destination for foodies. It continued the theme of sweeping landscapes but also aimed to convey the idea that Australia is the world’s greatest restaurant through showcasing the various food experiences available around the country from Uluru to the cities and the beach.

While Baker’s first year in the role was bumpy, with international visitors dropping in 2009 as the global financial crisis gripped the rest of the world, the numbers picked up substantially in 2010 according to the International Visitor Survey which runs from October to September 30, growing by 6 per cent to 5.381m, with 46 per cent of that number visiting on holiday.

These numbers grew steadily over the years peaking last year at 6.3m, with the number of visitors arriving for a holiday increasing to 2.8m. Importantly trip spend increased 11 per cent to $12.3b. Millions of Aussies associated with the tourism industry will raise a toast to those stats.

While we await with interest the next chapter in his journey, and to see the stamp Lisa Ronson will leave on the position, We’ll lave the last words for this piece for Baker himself, who wrote in his leaving note: “Thank you all for your support and help, I wish you all the best in showing this country to the world, a country Greg Truman said ‘that is still a place where the reward for every breath is just a little more oxygen than you’re expecting’….. not unlike my time with TA.”

Credit Where it’s Due is all about generating positivity about our fantastic industry. While we welcome positive and constructive comments, anonymous or otherwise, this feature a snark-free zone so please bear that in mind when commenting.

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