In recent weeks, quite a few tourism campaigns have been released across the country – from Hey Hey this is Queensland starring the Best Job in the World candidates to the next installment of I still call Australia home from Qantas and of course Tourism Victoria’s Lead a Double Life.

Publicis Mojo, the creative agency responsible for Tourism Victoria’s campaigns, haven’t disappointed, with another quirky and beautiful advertisement Lead a Double Life starring Isabel Lucas of Home and Away fame. Ok, she’s done plenty more since she first graced our television screens talking in unrecognisable codes and clicks as Tash, the wild girl raised by survivalists, including getting arrested for anti-whaling demonstrations in Japan, but I’ll always remember her as the stunning girl who sounded like the very dolphins and whales she later stood up for in Japan. ☺

My chuckle at Home and Away screenwriters over, let’s look at the ad.

I’m sure film buffs would agree, this is a rip off of the Cohen Brother’s film O Brother, Where Art Thou? … a modern take on Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. Set in the Deep South during the 1930s, it follows three escaped convicts searching for hidden treasure while a relentless lawman pursues them. Take a look for yourself.

Not only does the ad look and feel almost exactly the same, they’ve even used the same music, with an ethereal version of Down by the River to Pray.

Tourism Victoria’s campaigns have always been a little left-of-centre but always have a strong aesthetic. Remember the red ball of string and Run Rabbit Run campaigns? In this ad Lucas indulges in a decadent soiree, sampling local produce, then recovers the following day with a quiet stroll through the country and a dip in the natural springs. There’s no denying that Lead a Double Life is stunningly beautiful and evocative visually, but combined with the music and natural springs, it also stirs up images of religious ceremonies. And as the sun kissed Lucas in her virginal white dress takes a quiet stroll we are reminded of Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Are we supposed to be reading more into the subtext of this ad like those films it imitates? Possibly. With the obscure, quirky campaigns that Tourism Victoria leans towards, it’s clear there is a level sophistication to the target audience they are appealing to.

According to Tourism Victoria chief executive Greg Hywood, Victoria offers intimate, village experiences due to its size.

“Baby Boomers who are attracted to Melbourne for its romance and style are growing more interested in their health”, Mr Hywood said.

But is Isabel Lucas the perfect choice to attract the Baby Boomers and their high disposable income? I would not have thought so. Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa general manager Kim Whitehouse believes Lucas appeals to over 25s and the Baby Boomer market as well as young men.

“She certainly appeals to young men who are booking a lot of the weekend escapes”, Ms Whitehouse said.

I’m not completely convinced. I think she’s far too young to appeal to a Baby Boomer market–and perhaps even unknown to it-and would struggle to be an aspirational figure for older women. As for men booking these trips, I’d like to see the figures please. I’m almost certain that women would be pulling the strings in that choice anyway. Despite this, I don’t think the success of the ad hangs on Isabel Lucas.

After all, ‘The Run Rabbit Run’ campaign promoting the Yarra Valley, which began in 2004, led to an 18 per cent jump in visitors to the region in the first year. And now with Melbourne being the number one destination for Australians, who am I to argue with success?

Have a great week,
the c word