In 2006, an advertising campaign for Tourism Australia sparked international controversy, and was temporarily banned in the United Kingdom. The uproar? Well, at that time it was deemed offensive to use the word ‘bloody’ (a rather common Australianism) on British television. The ad by today’s standards was pretty tame, and in Australia it seemed pretty tame then too.
The end of the ad featured a famous Australian model, Lara Bingle, who asked of the viewer, ‘So, where the bloody hell are you?’
Bingle was rather famous at the time because she was good looking, and the girlfriend of the Australian cricket captain (oft said to be the second most important job in Australia, after the Prime Minister… the cricketer that is, not the girlfriend).
Funnily enough, the word ‘bingle’ is also Australian slang for a minor car accident (if not a train wreck), but the ad was deemed a relative failure and soon pulled from the air. Aussies still remember that ad though, and that one controversial line… ‘where the bloody hell are you?’
Fast forward ten years.Now, this one from 2016 did get a few complaints, but as this was an online guerilla marketing campaign (grabbing attention by use of shock value or other unconventional methods), that was kind of the point, so it was arguably quite successful.
The interesting thing about this one… as an advertising campaign, I assume nobody outside Australia would have any idea what the
fuck bloody hell the ad is trying to sell. What it says, of course, is… ‘See you in the Northern Territory’ (a large chunk of land famous for having lots of open space, and one large rock).
Complaints about the CU in the NT campaign were upheld by the Advertising Standards Board (ASB) which deemed the ad “obscene and inappropriate”. The ASB also stated it had no actual power over the online guerilla group of creators, because, you know… it’s the Internet.
I guess the desensitisation process is almost complete. A lot can change in a decade.