Mumbrellacast Interview: Brent Hill’s new Tourism Fiji gig, that ‘Old Mate’ ad and dealing with government

There was still a lack of awareness around what Adelaide had to offer, and we felt like we needed to drop a bit of a truth bomb out there.

South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC) executive director of marketing, Brent Hill, was recently announced chief executive officer of Tourism Fiji.

Hill has been at SATC since 2015, and has over 16 years of experience in tourism, digital marketing, advertising, branding, communications, campaign and executive strategy.

Before he joins Fiji’s National Tourism Office, where he will replace former CEO Matt Stoeckel, he joins Mumbrella’s head of content Damian Francis to reflect on his time at the SATC, dealing with being in a tourism role in the age of coronavirus, as well as what he’s looking forward to in his new role.

“There’d always been that nagging desire to go and test ourselves somewhere else. [My wife and I] wanted to go and see a bit more of the world. The opportunity to be a chief executive in a marketing-based organisation is a very rare thing so I feel humbled by the opportunity.”

He also answers the big questions around working with government, and dealing with commentary after agency roster changes. Hill reflects on his time at the SATC, and says he feels extremely proud of what he achieved, especially as working in government roles brings its own unique challenges, with beurocracy often stifling.

“It’s incredibly difficult to be creative because there are so many approval processes… people get involved and crush that creativity,” he says.

One of the campaigns Hill is best known for is the ‘Old Mate’ campaign, which attracted widespread controversy and criticism over its tone. The spot features a sad old man seemingly regretting not having more fun in Adelaide in his younger years.

Hill says he doesn’t regret the campaign, but admits he would change how the release and the communications were handled at the time. “We knew we had to drive awareness… the amount of heads that got turned towards Adelaide, even accounting for the fact that a quarter of them were negative, we had six months of the strongest tourism that we’ve ever had in our history.

“The numbers went through the roof. And at the end of the day, I’m not going to apologise for driving strong results.”

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Music credit: RetroFuture Clean Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Backbay Lounge Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

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