Tourism Australia has paused its AU$15m star-studded ‘Matesong’ campaign aimed at Brits in light of the ongoing bushfire crisis.
Boxing day has always been the traditional day in the UK that the European summer package holiday ads have begun, with the major travel players historically battling it out for a share of early bookings.
This year, however, saw an Australian contender trump them a day early on Christmas day thanks to the UK adopted Aussies Kylie Minogue and Adam Hills gracing Brits screens with their Tourism Australia funded ‘matesong’ aimed at luring more Brexit drained Brits down under.
The ad even rolled out before the annual Queens speech on Christmas day afternoon.
With Australia already in the midsts of ongoing devastating bushfires that began in September and Sydney clouded in a lung choking smoke haze the ad divided opinion here at the time of launch with the ‘glossy lifestyle’ campaign at odds with the real picture.
30% of koala population killed by #MorrisonFires , 3.7 million acres scorched , Sydney chokes on smoke , 30 , 000 people told to evacuate East Gippsland ahead of catastrophic #MorrisonFires conditions and the government releases #MateSong https://t.co/2oJ5q4sezn
— Au Purrr , The ResistaCat (@ricklevy67) December 29, 2019
Yes dear British former imperial overlords, please visit your former vassal state – enjoy the smoke 🔥 #MateSong
Australia fires: Thousands told to evacuate in Victoria – BBC News https://t.co/PjqslIweVf
— Kate Carruthers 🏳️🌈🌏🐶🐱 (@kcarruthers) December 29, 2019
In the time since the launch, the situation has worsened dramatically with more lives tragically lost, unprecedented amounts of land levelled and so much wildlife gone with it in the process. And the forward outlook looks equally bleak with experts predicting the fires to continue for months.
In response, and out of respect, Tourism Australia has now confirmed parts of the campaign are to be paused while the bushfire situation continues.
According to a report by the ABC, Tourism Australia has “paused” parts of its ‘Matesong’ campaign amid the devastation of Australia’s bushfire crisis, scenes of which have been broadcast to horrified onlookers around the world.
Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham initially defended the advertisement, noting the campaign was planned months in advance.
“It’s unfortunate to the extent that it comes at the same time that you see international news services covering stories of fires,” he said.
“But it’s also one of the reasons why it’s important that we continue to invest in tourism marketing.
“The fires will pass. Communities need to rebuild, and people who see this ad today will be making bookings to travel in six months, nine months, 12 months.” Birmingham said.
Another Tourism Australia spokesperson said: “We continue to monitor the situation daily and will continue to review our planned activity over the coming days, weeks and months.”
I’ve been wondering how long before @TourismAus would stop squandering our taxpayers’ dollars promoting a country in flames, and a people in trauma. About flipping time…#philausophy #thinkitthrough #matesong https://t.co/UBRwLxcZUg
— Cathie McGinn 🌈🌈🌈 (@acatinatree) January 6, 2020
Speaking to the ABC, the spokesperson said: “The campaign has been a long time in the planning and is a long-term play to attract UK visitors to Australia in the coming years,”
“While bushfires continue to impact parts of Australia, many areas of the country are unaffected, and most tourism businesses are still open.
“We hope that our Matesong campaign will inspire our friends in the UK to plan a future trip, and we also hope that this demonstrates to those tourism areas impacted by the fires that we will continue to back them now and into the future.”
Please break your deafening silence on this crisis.
We need your voice. pic.twitter.com/DbfITaBrVi
— Mike Buonaiuto (@Mike_Shapes) January 4, 2020
The ‘Matesong’ YouTube video has had 16 million views to date.
Share this story