Luhrmann Promotes 'Australia' by Promoting Australia
You probably know Baz Luhrmann by reputation, if not by name. He directed Strictly Ballroom, a tribute to the art of dance; Romeo + Juliet, his altar to the written word; and Moulin Rouge!, a garish but dazzling musical homage to pop culture.
He's just completed his latest film, Australia. I don't know much about it, but -- here's an interesting twist -- he's promoting it through a tourism gig.
DDB Worldwide -- which represents Tourism Australia -- tapped Lurhmann for its "Come Walkabout" campaign, which is technically for Australia but also for Australia. In the debut spot, a mystical (and naked?) little boy encourages a stressed woman to defect from her unraveling life.
"Sometimes we have to get lost to find ourselves," he whispers as she sleeps. "Sometimes ... we gotta go walkabout." In scenes to follow, she and her estranged lover are reunited by the sensual, childlike thrall of Australia. Tiny copy describes the transformation: "She arrived as Ms. K Mathieson, Executive VP of Sales. She departed as Kate."
Come walkabout, the ad whispers in conclusion.
It's cheesy but it works, a trick Luhrmann habitually plays on a jaded culture. I like it, in part because there's so much of him in it. He's spent most of his career blurring invisible lines -- between film and Broadway, cinematic storytelling and the written word, high culture and pop culture.
In "Come Walkabout," I'd say he brings tourism -- a wince-worthy market driven by cheap gimmicks -- to a worthier place. The spot doesn't attack us with shots of Australia's landmarks, or with swanky tourists laughing and clinking glasses. It moves slowly; it captivates.
It also turns a common problem into a character-driven narrative: why do we forsake our well-being for jobs that demand more and more of us? A vacation (to Australia!) brings stressed professionals back to equilibrium -- and back on a first-name basis, absolved of titles, with loved ones.
See Steve's take. (He's also got a link to the second ad.)