Tourism Australia pushes ‘how it feels’ to visit using virtual reality for global marketing push

Tourism Australia has unve­­iled its new global marketing campaign with the agency hoping its use of virtual reality, and Hollywood superstar Chris Hemsworth, will give it the edge over rival destinations vying for the tourism dollar.

The focus of the latest push falls on how it feels while you are hollidaying in Australia, with the spotlight on coastal and aquatic product from across the country.

It will include 17 virtual reality experiences and 360 degree videos, the first time Tourism Australia has used such technology to entice visitors.

The campaign, created by Clemenger BBDO, was launched in New York and is the latest instalment to sit under Tourism Australia’s There’s Nothing Like Australia umbrella, which is now in its sixth year.

It is the first global campaign spearheaded from inception to launch by chief marketing officer Lisa Ronson who first revealed the focus of the campaign last March in an interview with Mumbrella.

TV will form a central plank of the OMD-bought media, at least during the first 12 months after which video content will be more prevalent, along with digital, print and social activity. A 116-page magazine has also been produced in association with Australian Traveller showcasing a range of product.

Tourism Australia will spend $40m in the initial campaign roll-out in the US, China in early April, UK, India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and New Zealand.

As with Restaurant Australia – a campaign that will remain in market – user generated content will also feature heavily with consumers and industry encouraged to contribute videos and photographs of their own experiences.

But it is the virtual reality element of the creative that Tourism Australia is putting its faith in as it looks to demonstrate “how it feels” to holiday in Australia.

“Virtual Reality and 360 videos are important because rather than just showing how beautiful Australia is, it will get to the ultimate customer benefit which is how you feel when you come to Australia,” Ronson said.

“Our purpose is all about inviting the world to live the Australian way of life and we wanted to show that in a really immersive way.

“Aquatic and coastal lends itself to that immersive type of campaign and with VR and 360 you get a better understanding of the experiences available. We believe it will increase the intention to visit that little bit more.”

She added the world of destination marketing has become increasingly challenging with tourism agencies constantly striving to find a “competitive edge”.

“Australia has always had the advantage of being a highly desirable destination,” Ronson said. “The challenge is how to create a sense of urgency to visit that counters those perceived barriers such as time, distance and cost.”

The VR footage, produced in collaboration with Clemenger BBDO, production agency Finch and VR specialist, can be viewed by using Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR apps.

Tourism Australia CMO Ronson

Tourism Australia CMO Ronson

Ronson admitted relatively few consumers currently have VR technology but said the low-cost Google Cardboard will accelerate take-up over the next 12 months.

“It’s just a matter of time before adoption increases and many technology people think within the year [many people will have them],” she said.

“It’s also a great selling tool. We’ll gradually distribute headsets to our Aussie Specialist travel agents who can show the VR to their clients.

“We’ll also use them at trade shows around the world. It will bring the country to life in a better way than brochures and more traditional media.”

The decision to focus on coastal and aquatic experiences in its marketing follows concern that Australia was losing ground to rivals such as Hawaii and other Pacific destinations.

Google searches for such product, including the Great Barrier Reef, has fallen 10 per cent, Ronson said.

“Around 70 per cent of international arrivals participate in some form of coastal or aquatic activity so there is no question it is a strength of ours, but over the past two or three years we have been losing competitive ground,” she said. “Other destinations had focused on it but we hadn’t and we have been dropping down the rankings.

“While coastal and aquatic have featured in a lot of Tourism Australia campaigns it has never been the focus or taken centre stage. So we have worked with all the states and territories who nominated what they thought were the best experiences.


“And it’s not just the coast. We have Murray River, Katherine Gorge and a range of other experiences.”

Among the experiences featured in the TVC, which feature a voiceover by Chris Hemsworth, include a helicopter ride over the 12 Apostles; swimming in Sydney Harbour; snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef; kayaking through Katherine Gorge; driving on the beach in South Australia; cycling around Lake Burley Griffin; sailing through the sparkling blue waters of Rottnest Island; and walking the recently-opened Three Capes Track in Tasmania.

While largely intended to draw international visitors, some funding will go towards PR in the domestic market.

It will be up to the states and territories, who have responsibility for domestic marketing, how they wish to use material from the countless hours of footage shot at 13 locations around the country.

Ronson said the launch of the new push does not spell the end of Restaurant Australia, the campaign launched in 2014 to sell the nation’s previously unheralded food and wine product.

She said a further $40m will be spent on Restaurant Australia over the next 12 months.

“There is still a lot of life left in Restaurant Australia,” the former Westpac marketer said. “People are increasingly traveling on their stomachs so it’s continually going to be a driver. We have seen an incremental $700m spent on food and win in Australia so it is a campaign that is working.”

Ronson said marketers can mistakenly chop and change campaigns.

“In my experience marketers get sick of their campaigns before consumers do. You have to spend a lot of money for consumers to get tired of a campaign and with Restaurant Australia we are still getting results.”

tourism australia wind in hair coastThe coastal and aquatic campaign will be pivotal in helping Tourism Australia reach its long-stated goals of generating overnight visitor spend of between $115m and $140 by 2020.

“This campaign is about showcasing content produced by Australian tourism business, international visitors and Australians through our social and digital channels on a size and scale never before seen in destination marketing,” Ronson said, adding she was “very conscious” that it was her first complete campaign from start to finish.

“I don’t want to jump the gun but I’m very pleased with the feedback internally and from stakeholders,” Ronson said. “I am proud of the comprehensive range of assets that we have developed. We have gone broad and deep. But I am sure I’m not going to get through this completely without some interesting feedback.”

Ronson will discuss the campaign and future marketing trends and challenges at the Mumbrella Travel Marketing Summit being held in Sydney on April 6.

Steve Jones


Tourism Australia

Chief Marketing Officer: Lisa Ronson

General Manager, Consumer Marketing: Matt McInnes

General Manager, Digital: John MacKenney

General Manager, Global Media & PR: Geoff Ikin

Aquatic & Coastal Project Manager: Courtney Barr

Global Manager: Cassie Zuill

Global Manager, Brand & Creative Services: Emily Hill

Senior Digital Producer, Consumer Marketing Digital: Larissa Nery

Global Manager, PR, Broadcast & Advocacy: Emma Sturgiss

Global PR & Advocacy Manager: Nicole Foster

Clemenger BBDO

Executive Creative Director: Paul Nagy

Senior Art Director: Kat Jarratt

Senior Copywriter: Denny Handlin

Senior Art Director: Nick Bonney

Senior Art Director: Dave Lidster

Senior Designer: Daniel Mortensen

Agency TV Producer: Denise McKeon

Senior Print Producer: Steve Tindall

Agency Digital Producer: Sultan Aytacli

FINCH / (Film – 2D & 3D – Production)

FINCH Director / DOP: Nic Finlayson

FINCH MD/EP: Corey Esse

Executive Producer: Emma Lawrence

Line Producer/Location Manager: Warren Keuning

FINCH, Director, Applied Technology: Emad Tahtouh

FINCH, 360 Technologists: James Carthew, Albert Woffenden, Rob Magee

works EP’s: Patrick Milling Smith, Samantha Storr, Joe Chen,

works Head Of Post: Armando Kirwin

works VR Camera Tech: Kate Wurzbacher



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