Tourism Australia Walkabout in Transformation Campaign

Tourism Australia today launches the ‘Transformation’, an advertising campaign conceived and ultimately produced by film writer/producer/director Baz Luhrmann. Two television commercials, “New York” and “Shanghai”, tell the stories of overworked business executives whose lives are transformed by an encounter with Australia.

Tourism Australia Shanghai encounter

Australia’s Minister of Tourism, Martin Ferguson said: “Australia’s tourism industry is currently facing a difficult period and this significant change in direction from Tourism Australia comes at a very important time.”

“The advertisements being unveiled today are the first instalment of a campaign which will take advantage of the massive publicity push around Luhrmann’s soon-to-be-released film Australia. Baz Luhrmann has produced a campaign which Tourism Australia believes can convince people to holiday in Australia. This will be the highest profile and most sophisticated campaign ever undertaken by Tourism Australia and it is rightly a source of great hope for our industry.”

Nick Baker, Executive General Manager Marketing for Tourism Australia said the campaign was unlike any other tourism campaign. “It’s cinematic in style, is based on a story with a beginning, middle and end, is sophisticated and highly emotive,” he said. “It is not the traditional slide-show of pretty pictures of places and people.

“The idea stems from Baz’s film, which tells the story of Nicole Kidman’s character, Lady Sarah Ashley, who has lost her sense of self but who finds adventure, romance and her true self when she comes to Australia. We’ve made that core storyline into two short-film-like stories of contemporary people who are stressed and disconnected from their loved ones and their true selves, and who find their centre and their release in Australia.”

An Aboriginal child (played by Brandon Walters) appears in each of the ads, with the words, “Sometimes we have to get lost to find ourselves. Sometimes we gotta go walkabout.” The dark and cold environments of the northern hemisphere winter are contrasted with the life giving sunshine and water of the Australian summer.

Billabong (New York)

An overworked sales executive has her life transformed by an encounter with Australia. “She arrived as Ms K. Mathieson, Executive VP of Sales. She departed as Kate.”

Click on the image below to play the video.

Boabs (Shanghai)

He arrived as Mr Lee, Assistant Finance Manager. He departed as Lee Ming.

Click on the image below to play the video.


The Tourism Australia campaign follows on from the success of the Chanel No. 5 collaboration between Baz Luhrmann, Nicole Kidman and Sydney film production company Revolver Film.

The Tourism Australia campaign was developed at Bazmark Inc, by executive creative director Baz Luhrmann, copywriter Paul Taylor and art director Tony Banks (Day & Age, Melbourne), music supervisor Anton Monsted, executive agency producer Amanda Luhrmann..

Filming was shot by director Bruce Hunt via Bazmark and Revolver Film, Sydney, with director of photography Mandy Walker, executive producer Michael Ritchie, production designer Karen Murphy, costume designer Eliza Godman.

Editor was Drew Thompson at Guillotine. Sound was designed and mixed by Simon Kane for Song Zu. Digital effects and film finish were completed at Animal Logic.

Original music for Shanghai was composed by Maja Petrovna Hilcisin, who has been writing for the Australia film soundtrack. Original music for New York was composed by Elliott Wheeler at Nylon Studios, with executive producer Mark Beckhaus and sound engineer Wayne Connolly. Music was recorded at Trackdown Scoring Stage, Fox Studios.

The music for the New York spot was composed and recorded within a 48 hour timeframe in early September. Film directors Baz Luhrmann and Bruce Hunt called Nylon Studios on a Friday night a month before the launch, asking for a demo to be completed by the following Monday. Elliott composed two pieces on the Saturday before recording them with a string ensemble from Sydney Symphony Orchestra on the Sunday morning.

Once the creative team had chosen one of the tracks further work included the addition of multiple layers of piano tracks to create a a signature sound for the main piano melody, and careful sound engineering and mix by Wayne Connolly. Encouraged by warm response to the soundtrack, Wheeler has written an extended version with lyrics recorded by Abby Dobson from Sydney band Leonardo’s Bride.

Elliott Wheeler talks about the challenges of writing poetic music that represents the move from fragility, coldness and isolation to warmth, romance and self discovery.

“We wanted to use strings, but not on such a scale that we’d be dictating to the audience what they were meant to feel, so in the end we went with a much smaller chamber ensemble. We put a lot of energy into finding a balance between the intimacy expressed in the dialogue, and the grandness seen in the cinematography.”

The two television commercials are being rolled out in 22 countries. Eleven print advertisements, shot in every Australian State and Territory, have been produced in conjunction with DDB Worldwide. Tourism Australia’s new advertising agency. DDB will produce Tourism Australia’s next international campaign to be rolled out post-June 2009.