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A defence of the Barossa ad by its writer

Opinion

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Before I go on to answer some of the questions raised and rebuff the more flimsy and uninformed criticisms of the ad, I should declare my involvement and my credentials.

I am Creative Director of Adelaide’s own KWP! Advertising.

KWP! is the agency and I am the writer responsible for the SA Tourism Commission’s new ad for the Barossa.

Being in such a position, unlike any of the ad’s critics, affords me the unique ability to comment as a matter of objective fact and not just of subjective opinion.

My colleagues and I, in conjunction with the client, were heavily involved in the strategic and creative development of the ad campaign. As a result, unlike the handful of detractors, I know why the campaign was created, whom it is targeting and what it is intended to say.

I also have a modest 25 plus years’ experience in the advertising industry that, while in no way makes me an authority on the subject, does stand me in pretty reasonable stead.

So rather than merely seeking the opinions of some friends or looking up anonymous posts from someone else’s website, I can tell you the facts with more than a fair amount of certainty.

So let us deal with the criticisms.

 

 

There is not enough wine in the ad

Condemnations under this heading include, “It won’t sell any wine” and “The first rule of marketing is to reinforce what people already know about the brand or product.”

First and foremost it must be pointed out (even though, for those who care to look, the ad includes several wine related images such as glasses of wine, wine barrels, vineyards, vines, etc.) this isn’t an ad about wine; it’s an ad about tourism.

Secondly, the aim of this campaign is to capitalise on the growing trend of culinary tourism and to relaunch Barossa. The reason I say ‘relaunch’ is because our target audience has a very firm but out-dated view of what the region is and what it has to offer.

There is little point illuminating these people with the fact that Barossa is a wine region. Like the vast majority of people who do not reside under a rock, they already know. They also believe they can experience Barossa in a bottle. Our job was to bring to life the many other virtuous layers of the region to build a bigger, more compelling story to entice them to visit.

And that story comes from two things – the people and the dirt.

This is an extraordinary community of passionate artisans and the rich, fertile soil responsible for the best wine in the country is also responsible for the most amazing produce. And as a result, there is a culinary explosion taking place that we want to capture, capitalise on and tell the world about.

The ad is dark, moody and shows dead animals

Again under this subheading there are numerous comments in last week’s article including a ridiculous and insulting reference to the Snowtown murders.

The mood of the piece reflects the earthy authenticity of the region. This is a real, rural community, not prissy purveyors of nouveau cuisine. The ad, like the people, is raw, genuine and passionate, which is why bread is ripped open with gusto rather than neatly sliced; why wine robustly glugs into a glass instead of a droplet being delicately poured.

Yes they shoot rabbits, pluck pheasants and use axes to split wood.

And the people we are talking to appreciate that as they shun vacuum-sealed packaged food from supermarket shelves and the over-processed falseness that abounds in their everyday lives.

The music is dark and sinister

The region and its community are very passionate and the experience of food and wine is sensory.

So to heighten the sense of passion and sensuality in this very adult communication, we added music that evoked many of those attributes.

This highly distinctive piece of music from one of Australia’s most internationally celebrated songwriters, Nick Cave, was only used to capture and enhance the mood and is not a narrative.

As an aside, although lyrics are incidental to this communication, the song is often misinterpreted.

There are many, many interpretations of the song meaning, but I suspect Mr. Cave and co are the only ones who know the absolute truth.

From my understanding and research, it is not a song about a murderer or the bogie man. It comes from a Brazilian folk hero (Cave lived in Brazil for several years) – the man with the red right hand, who meted out justice and reward to poor families. Those who were good were rewarded; those who were evil were not.

There are no obvious Barossa icons or landmarks in the ad

Although there were a number of suggestion made after the ad was created, including the Seppeltsfield Mausoleum, The Whispering Wall and the wineglass topiary trees at Rowland Flat, we never intended using these or other landmarks.

The reality is there are very few landmarks that are recognisable to anyone other than Barossa residents or very regular visitors.

Moreover, it is vital to understand this campaign, like its sister campaign for Kangaroo Island, is a completely new and unique form of tourism advertising. We have moved far beyond the clichéd and predictable form of destination marketing and into the world of experience marketing.

Our target audience are experience seekers. They have already ticked the Big Apple, Great Wall of China and Uluru off their bucket lists. Now they want to go beyond the superficial and be truly touched by an experience.

This is why this ad campaign features so much evocative imagery and music. It transcends the hackneyed and pushes Barossa and South Australia to the forefront of tourism advertising and creates a new genre.

To date it has been a poorly performing viral ad

As it was never intended to be a viral ad, this observation leaves me particularly unfazed. This ad is destined for cinema and television screens primarily in Sydney and Melbourne, but of course in other regions and cities like Adelaide too.

It is also one element of a fully integrated multi-channel campaign that will roll out of the coming months.

I would like to point out the laughable naivety of the person who attempts to determine the success of anything in the viral arena by only measuring its views on a solitary You Tube channel. Such a schoolboy oversight demonstrates the critic’s complete lack of understanding of social media and its use.

During the course of the creation of this campaign and the follow up work, my team and I have worked in and visited the Barossa on numerous times over the past months. I can say without fear of contradiction, the response to the ad has been overwhelmingly positive. The praise has been genuine and effusive. From foodies and winies. The phone calls, emails and social posts have been equally praiseful and far outweigh the negatives.

At the end of the day everyone is entitled to his or her opinions and the only real measure will be the success or failure of the campaign.

I look forward with great confidence to that moment and will be delighted to share those facts with you then.

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