Just released documents have shown that the South Australia’s Tourism Commission was warned its now infamous “Old Mate” ads were inappropriate months before the campaign even launched.
The ads, released in September, were the work of TBWA\Melbourne and were roundly condemned as being “offensive, ageist and depressing“.
But new research obtained under Freedom of Information laws and reported on the ABC has revealed South Australia’s Tourism Commission was warned that the ads were “not child friendly” and would only appeal to grey nomads.
According to the report, the ads were shown to focus groups prior to their public debut with respondents bemoaning the campaign as depressing, lacking diversity and being too male-centric.
According to the documents “most interstate travellers agreed that it’s not child friendly and potentially aimed at older travellers or ‘grey nomads'”.
“More variety in the attractions shown in Adelaide/SA would help counter this and enhance the impact,” it noted.
Focus group attendees commented: “I can’t take my kids to any of these locations … I’d be more interested in activities for families.”
Another added: “This type of holiday is about 30 years away.”
“I am not sure that they show that there is really enough to do and see there,” said another.
“This ad would be further enhanced, however, by showing different people from different backgrounds or different demographic profiles enjoying the variety of activities in SA,” commented another.
South Australia’s Labor opposition led the chorus of complaints over the ads, lambasting the government’s decision to award the creative to a Melbourne agency and for cutting the state’s tourism budget.
Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said: “Let’s get that advertising contract out of Victorian hands, back into South Australian hands and get our state’s marketing back on the right track.
“Steven Marshall’s got an opportunity now. He’s the Premier of South Australia, he’s the Tourism Minister. The buck stops with him and he’s got the chance to reverse that,” Malinauskas said.
However, supporters of the campaign – that finished in December – said South Australia’s Tourism website had received 22 million hits following the launch of the ads.
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