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The Strange and Contrasting Ads of South Australia’s Tourism Campaign

March 19, 2014 10:12 am    |    by Jonny Blair

Normally it doesn’t take much to tempt tourists and migrants over to the shores of South Australia but migration agents in Sydney are sure to be breathing a slight sigh of relief after the premiere of a new ad for Adelaide, especially after the rather controversial campaign for Barossa. Both films were created by Jeff Darling, a man with plenty of acclaimed tourism films already under his belt, but they have divided opinion with their dramatic and alternative takes on the areas they are portraying.

“Be Consumed” offers a challenge to its viewers.

There are two ways to look at the “Be Consumed” advert, which has been playing in cinemas since May of last year. On the positive side, the unusual focus and striking imagery have caught people’s eyes, so much so that inquiries into Barossa reached record numbers. On the negative side, these images, such as dead rabbits and a woman in white lying in the dirt, do not immediately evoke thoughts of pleasant holiday destinations or inviting new homes for migrants. Darling made some undeniably bold choices with the juxtaposition of death, fire, dirt, and bleakness against feasts of local produce and beautiful scenery – and this is only magnified by the choice of soundtrack. Using Nick Cave, one of Australia’s musical icons, is fine but the track Red Right Hand, formally associated with serial killers after its use on the Scream soundtrack, is questionable. Love it or hate it, the ad has certainly got people talking – and they do say there is no such thing as bad publicity – but tourism officials must have been holding their breath in anticipation of Darling’s next offering.

“Breathe” offers a gentler invitation.

On February 2nd, Darling’s take on Adelaide was unveiled in Sydney. Given his approval of criticism regarding the dark tones of the previous film, and his desire to show something challenging about Barossa, it would be natural for people to be apprehensive about this new offering; however, “Breathe” is a lot softer and is arguably more positive in its portrayal. This time viewers watch an astronaut fall from space into the vibrant, exciting heart of Adelaide, where she gets to experience the thrills of local art, culture, and food before taking off her helmet and breathing in the city. This invitation for visitors to do the same gives the film a stronger, more welcoming message – but there are still some familiar elements from “Be Consumed” that set it apart from traditional tourism films. These aspects include the contrast of darkness and fire against the children playing in the sunlight, the close-ups of juicy food and splashing wine, and a soundtrack that is still a little jarring. This time Darling has chosen an interesting arrangement of Never Tear Us Apart by rising star Emma Louise.

The Strange and Contrasting Ads of South Australia's Tourism Campaign

The Strange and Contrasting Ads of South Australia’s Tourism Campaign

Which will be most successful?

This second offering from Jeff Darling is sure to come a lot closer to what migration agents in Sydney, South Australian tourism officials, and the general public would have in mind for an ad campaign – it showcases the region successfully, it offers a more welcoming invitation, and it doesn’t scare people. Whether or not the ad will be successful will become clear when it is rolled out nationally. Only then will we see which style of advertising really has the biggest impact.

Eugene Liu works with Move Migration, a team of migration agents in Sydney known for their simple fee structure and exceptional service standard in facilitating applications for Australian permanent residency.

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