Tourism Australia: ‘Roo Debut Cuts Through

Tourism Australia

Come and Say G’day


There’s an easy way to do travel and tourism ads – beautiful scenery, happy people, uplifting music, and boom! You’re looking at a high scoring commercial. But your competitors can take exactly the same route. Just as with other categories where the product is inherently appealing, travel ads need something special to stand out.

Something like a cartoon kangaroo, perhaps? Ruby ‘Roo is the star of Tourism Australia’s new ad, a 60 second cutdown from a 9-minute animated short in which Ruby and a toy unicorn friend roam across the whole continent. In the 60 second edit they don’t travel quite as widely but the ad still features plenty of Australian icons from wombats to the Sydney Opera House. There’s also an iconic soundtrack – a cover of Men At Work’s legendary “Down Under”.

Is it maybe too obvious or too cheesy? No. In our opinion that criticism is valid for some sectors with strong category codes – like perfume and cars – but travel ads are different. In a travel ad, the obvious stuff is the distinctive asset. It may be a cliche to show the Sydney Opera House in an Australian tourism ad but that doesn’t stop almost every visitor to Sydney wanting to see the place.

What makes the difference between a good and a great travel ad isn’t what you show, it’s the frame you put those things in. A simple collage of famous sights will do some of the job emotionally, but you need to convey the excitement and joy of the actual visit. That’s where dialogue and a story – even a basic one – can play such an important part. Those are elements which can win broad-beam attention by bringing rich context to the attractive images that make up the ad.

So Ruby ‘Roo and her unicorn mate aren’t just a bit of cute silliness, they’re what makes the ad work by giving it a framework to win that attention. The proof comes in the results from Test Your Ad – 5-Star responses in the US, UK and Singapore, with really exceptional short-term Spike ratings too. That means Tourism Australia can effectively reach audiences at both ends of the marketing funnel – winning over people actively looking for a possible holiday but also making a strong positive impression on anyone for whom it’s just a daydream.

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