Fri, Mar 10, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Bloody hell: Britain bans Aussie tourism ad from TV

AGENCIES , SYDNEY AND CANBERRA

The oath-laden slogan of Australia's new tourism campaign -- has been banned in Britain.

Australian Tourism Minister Fran Bailey said Britain had banned the TV ads, which end with a bikini-clad woman on a beach asking "so where the bloody hell are you?"

"The regulators have clearly misplaced their sense of humor -- and this from a country that brought us Benny Hill, [the] Two Ronnies and Little Britain," Bailey said in a statement yesterday.

The decision by Britain's Advertising Standards Authority will keep the A$180 million (US$131 million) campaign off British TV screens, although the ads would still screen in British movie theaters and appear in print.

The setback was nevertheless hailed as as a marketing coup by Scott Morrison, managing director of the Australian government's tourism promotion agency, Tourism Australia.

"This is a marketer's dream," he told Australia's ABC Radio. "It will be driving people to the Internet like there's no tomorrow."

A clearly shocked Morrison claimed the ban would give the controversial campaign even more attention.

"The Brits will have a good giggle about it," he said.

"We are already running in the United States, we are already running in New Zealand -- if you can run the thing in Utah, I imagine the UK will have to have a good think about how close they are in touch with community standards," he said.

He admitted that Japan, Korea, Thailand and Singapore would get expletive-deleted versions of the campaign.

"We're being a bit cautious up in Singapore and have taken a proactive stance there," Morrison said.

The campaign features all the standard vistas of Australia -- beaches, deserts, coral reefs -- as well as traditional icons like the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

"We've poured you a beer and we've had the camels shampooed, we've saved you a spot on the beach. We've even got the sharks out of the pool," the introduction goes.

Then, from a bikini-clad blonde, comes the slogan: "So where the bloody hell are you?"

The campaign has been controversial from the start. Australian Prime Minister John Howard sprang to its defense but declined an invitation to repeat it.

"I'm not somebody who uses that expression, certainly not on radio," a flustered Howard replied to an interviewer.

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