Put a Dollar in the Swear Jar… Australia

As Australians, we are known for our sometimes crude yet lovable sense of humour, which does tend to incorporate a lot of words some may find ‘uncouth’. However, sometimes when this humour can get lost in translation overseas, and be received as distasteful or rude. Thus how do we incorporate our Australian ‘lingo’ into advertising without causing offence?

There are three main digital campaigns that spring to mind when talking about the Australian language and controversy.

The first one of these is the infamous Tourism Australia ad of 2006. The clip was meant to entice overseas visitors to our country and featured a scene of the rich landscapes of Australia. Furthermore, use of spokesperson Lara Bingle, an Australian model, was also used as an embodiment of the Australian lifestyle. However, as Australians, we all remember that infamous line at the end of the ad – “so where the bloody hell are ya?”. The 180 million dollar campaign created headlines across the world – how could we use ‘swear’ word to promote our country?



CU in the NT campaign

Further controversy was created in 2016 by online advertising for the Northern Territory. Similar to the Tourism Australia ad, the clip showed scenes of an idyllic paradise, but once again the catchphrase caused unrest. “CU in the NT” which hints to a popular but very rude Australian colloquialism beginning with ‘C’. The slogan caused a stir worldwide and was branded as ‘obscene’ by the Australian Advertising Watchdog.


Despite the controversy caused by both, both Australia and the NT did see a rise in tourism. So why is this?

Research by marketing specialist Andrew Wolf found that the use of swearing in advertising can actually aid in its success. The use of swearing envokes an emotion in the viewer, “resulting in an emotional connection that brands count on”. Furthermore, it is believed that swearing can also be used as a mechanism for brand authenticity, as consumers see the use of the is word as “keeping it cool“. Finally, for companies and brand that want to portray a sense of confidence and boldness, swearing in advertising is perfect for them – as it takes guts for a company to put themselves on the line for possible repercussions.

Thus, I leave you readers to question whether it is was right to advertise Australia alongside words which are considered vulgar? Furthermore, do you think it is a clever marketing strategy for companies to employ the use of swearing in advertising, or just plain dumb? Let me know what you think below!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s