"Where the bloody hell are you?" has gone the way of the "shrimp on the barbie" - into the dustbin of advertising history.
And all because the prude pundits and bleeding hearts are so worried about our delicate sensibilities that they deemed a harmless ad as offensive! And this was in 2006 NOT 1886! C'mon, give me a break!
So where the bloody hell are you? was a AUD$180 million advertising campaign launched in 2006 by Tourism Australia created by the Sydney office of the London advertising agency M&C Saatchi.
The advertisements feature Australians preparing for visitors to their country. It begins with a punter in a remote outback pub standing at the bar who says...
“We’ve poured you a beer”
and turns to face the smiling female bartender.
Next, a camel train is silhouetted by the Australian sunset. A woman says...
“And we’ve had the camels shampooed”.
At this point we’re listening to distinctly Australian sounds – traditional Aboriginal percussion and didgeridoo. The camels walk down the beach, sun setting over the sea in the background. Must be Western Australia!
Further imagery to a similar effect is then shown with one version of the ad showing a young boy on the beach saying...
"We've got the sharks out of the pool,"
and partygoers watching Sydney Harbour fireworks saying...
"We've turned on the lights".
The commercial ends with bare legs swishing through the surf at Fingal Spit as bikini-clad model Lara Bingle steps out of the ocean asking that supposedly offensive question...
"So where the bloody hell are you?"
The campaign received extensive press coverage, but it was soon deemed a failure and withdrawn.
There were a few variations to the ad but ultimately it received so much adverse attention that the controversy surrounding it did more for Australian tourism that the ad itself. If you wanna see what all the hullabaloo was about then check out one of the ads below...
The advertising campaign caused controversy in March 2007 when it was banned by the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre in the United Kingdom, which would not allow the word "bloody" in television versions of the commercial.
Following lobbying by Tourism Australia, including a visit to the UK by Australia's tourism minister Fran Bailey and Lara Bingle, the ban was lifted, although a 9pm "watershed" was imposed on television commercials in May.
In March 2007, the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK ordered the removal of roadside billboards bearing the slogan. The ASA stated that it had received 32 complaints and warned Tourism Australia to refrain from using profanity in future billboards. Tourism minister Fran Bailey responded...
"What an absolutely, incredibly ludicrous stance and a greater example of double standards you'd never find. Everyone is shaking their heads, especially as it's in a country where they allow the FCUK billboards. ... I mean what is it about our campaign that they find offensive? I just don't understand it."
The advertisement has also been banned by regulators in Canada, owing to the implication of "unbranded alcohol consumption" by the opening line,
"We've poured you a beer".
There was also concern in Canada at the word 'hell' being used as an expletive. It has been allowed to run with no adverse action in countries such as the United States and New Zealand. In Singapore, the advertisement campaign is presented as "So Where Are You?", with the words "bloody hell" removed.
The Controversy backfires
First the Brits...
The Hon Scott Morrison MP, now Treasurer, but then the managing director of Tourism Australia, said the ban is the best thing that could have happened for the campaign...
"It's a bit of a PR dream," he told Richard Glover's Drive show on 702 ABC Sydney this afternoon.
"This is a great opportunity to really promote the campaign," Mr Morrison said.
He said the attention created by the ban would increase traffic to the campaign's website, where it will still be freely available.
"We'll be driving people to the internet like there's no tomorrow," he said.
"The Brits will have a good giggle about it."
He said there was always a risk such a ban could take place but it would be a "win-win either way", he said.
Then the Yanks...
The controversial commercial made its US debut in front of 20 million American TV viewers and one influential group was not amused.
The American Family Association (AFA), which has more than two million members and leads campaigns against abortion and gay rights, was upset with the bikini-clad model Lara Bingle's use of "bloody" and "hell" in the ad's tagline.
"I just feel pretty sure the typical American family who is watching TV with their children and they're exposed to this ad are going to be upset," AFA director of special projects, Randy Sharp, said.
"I don't want my children to hear that phrase.
"It's a shocking phrase because we're not familiar with it.
However, Tourism Australia was not worried by the prospect of an AFA campaign, a spokesman said.
The ad's North American target market was well-educated, high-earning, widely travelled people from Canada and the US west coast, the Tourism Australia spokesman said.
"And I think we have the right campaign to do the job," he said.
"The popular series Commander-in Chief runs in all US states and features a character called Nathan 'Bloody Hell' Templeton, so it's a term understood by Americans."
Research in the US showed the ad's target market "enjoyed its humour and took it in the way it was intended", the spokesman said.
Good Grief! Anyway, why not post your thoughts - especially if you're not from Australia. Do you find the ad offensive?
In the video below you can check out what the world in general thought....