Consuming 12 million acres and killing at least 27 people, plus as many as half a billion animals, the wildfires across Australia have prompted government agency Tourism Australia to pull a UK multimedia campaign featuring a video with a song sung by Kylie Minogue. The work also includes cricketer Shane Warne, Olympian Ian Thorpe and Comedian Adam Hills.
The digital component of the campaign has been canned, according to media reports, with a decision yet to be made on other pieces including television, cinema and out-of-home advertising spots. The campaign featured popstar Minogue singing "Matesong", written by Eddie Perfect in a three-minute video shot in picturesque coastal and central locations.
Matesong, created by M&C Saatchi, debuted on ITV on Christmas Day following the afternoon episode of Coronation Street and immediately before the Queen’s speech—the annual address to the UK by the monarch who's also the ruling head of state of Australia. This was the first work in Tourism Australia’s recently launched brand platform "Philausophy", which aimed to elevate the strengths of the destination to include its people, personality and way of life.
Following the initial airing, the campaign was to run across TV, digital, social media, cinema and out-of-home, with Singapore Airlines, the Telegraph and TripAdvisor as partners. However, with vast areas of the country ravaged by wildfires, Tourism Australia decided it was prudent to pull a campaign that was conceived in much happier times.
Tourism Australia likely found itself in a tight spot, since many tourist spots were unaffected by the fires. But running such a positive campaign would make the brand appear profoundly tone deaf.
“Like all Australians our sympathies go out to the families and communities who are impacted by the fires, and our gratitude grows stronger by the day for the front line services facing the fires head on,” Tourism Australia said in statement on the fires. “It is more important than ever that we rally around our communities and the tourism sector who may have been impacted.