To Go Viral or Not – PART II: Online ambushes hit Tourism Australia’s new campaign

Tourism New Zealand played a social media April Fool’s Day joke on Tourism Australia by brand-jacking a new million dollar campaign called There’s Nothing Like Australia – reminding brands to double check their social media strategies.

Tourism Australia launched the $150 AUS million advertising campaign aiming to tap into user-generated content (UGC) by inviting people to a dedicated microsite asking them to upload a photo of their most unique and memorable Aussie holiday experience to the Facebook fan page.

The problem came in when Tourism Australia did not plan on a social media existing outside of Facebook. In its true cheeky and competitive manner, Tourism New Zealand jumped on the opportunity to fill the social void and establish a Twitter account, NothinglikeAus, a similarly named Flickr account and a Facebook page called Nothing like Australia…Welcome to New Zealand with the joking message “love from your friendly neighbours, New Zealand.”

All very social I think you’ll agree, (even overlooking the fact that nearly every tourism authority does this type of campaign and no-one can upload anything until April 15). But Tourism Australia appeared to forget the first rule of social media marketing – you have to be where your social media community is rather than expect them to come to you.

While the prank may have ended only hours later, another individual also set up a parody blog called featuring spoof advertisements including one of the late Steve Irwin holding his baby while working with a crocodile. The ads tagline read “Taking Your Child to Work, There’s nothing like Australia.”

A photograph of Ms Chamberlain and her daughter Azaria is depicted with the official Tourism Australia logo and the words ‘‘There’s nothing like a dingo taking your baby’’.

A similarly spoof ad featuring using an image from the Cronulla riots says: ‘‘There’s nothing like welcoming the new guy’’.

Following reports of possible legal action against the tumblr page today, the site’s operators posted a message under the heading ‘‘There’s nothing like legal trouble’’ reminding readers they were not affiliated with Tourism Australia ‘‘in any way, shape or form’’.

‘‘No harm is intended through this site,’’ they wrote.

‘‘We’re just trying to have a laugh and we’re sorry if we’ve offended TA.’’

The page administrators have taken steps to shield their identity, using a Whois guard to block searches on the page’s origin.

Tourism Australia said it thought the website was funny and would not be taking legal action.

In another hiccup for the Aussie campaign, the ” There’s Nothing Like Australia” ads coincide with a New Zealand push telling Australians: “There’s No Place Like Wellington”.

Commentators on media and marketing website Mumbrella said the New Zealand campaign ruined the Australian strategy.

‘‘Thats the risk you take when you select an incredibly generic line like ‘There’s no place like (insert town)’,’’ ‘Riva’ wrote.

A Tourism Australia spokesperson said there were ‘‘a lot of similarities in destination marketing’’ but the Australian campaign would go global, while the Wellington ads were aimed only at Australia.

While the publicity stunt may have actually worked in favour for Tourism Australia in many ways, overall the Kiwi’s may have won this particular rivalry and reminded us all to plan for where our fans are – not where we hope they will follow us.



2 thoughts on “To Go Viral or Not – PART II: Online ambushes hit Tourism Australia’s new campaign

  1. Throw in the ill-will generated by the photo competition copyright grab and it seems to me there’s not a lot of professionalism being shown at Tourism Australia.

    1. In both cases they seem to have a reactive rather than a proactive approach. The bad thing with tourism authorities at both local & national levels is that they’re investing massive resources to create viral campaigns (& eventually get the credit for this just like it happend in the “best job in the world” campaign) but at the same time they seem to lose their strategic focus & forget basic marketing rules. Destination Marketing is much more than just selling a destination or creating a buzz around it..

      At least you’ve got an email response back 🙂

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