Promoting Australia through a rather special Family

Last night Australian’s got to see the new campaign which will hopefully ignite new waves of tourism from America . . . the latest episode of hit-show Modern Family. But there is some debate as to whether it is an effective tourism promotional opportunity.

ModernFamily_NTKThe Modern Family brand is incredibly strong and the strength of this brand has also ignited the individual brands of the major cast members. Hence, last night’s episode featuring the family’s holiday to Australia is essentially a half-hour celebrity endorsement for our picturesque land.

But not just any celebrity endorsement!

Unlike previous campaigns using Australian faces, this promotion features celebrities Americans trust. By using the big stars of Modern Family, the American fans are called into action because they have a strong relationship with these stars and can actually see themselves in the situation as these promoters are also visiting in the same circumstances that they potentially would. This ability to relate leads to a much more powerful promotional tool than using Australian stars.

However, despite these strengths, the episode isn’t exactly loved by reviewers for taking advantage of Australian clichés and stereotypes. Is that really a bad thing?

Think of yourself as a tourist in a foreign country. While we may like to think that we can blend in and act like a local, on the whole we stand out like a sore thumb with our fanny packs, runners and oversized water bottles. That is because the whole reason of going to a foreign country is to see the touristy sites and do the touristy activities.

If you are in Italy, then you want to see the Colosseum, the leaning tour of Pisa and eat Spaghetti Bolognaise. If you travel to New York, chances are you want to see Broadway and Times Square, walk the Brooklyn Bridge and eat a hot dog from a street vendor. If you are flying to Australia, you are probably going to see the Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef and eat a meat pie with dead horse.

Stereotypes and clichés are not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, they make us feel more comfortable because they match our expectations. And if you are going to spend thousands of dollars on a trip somewhere like Australia, these touristy clichés are probably right at the top of the ‘To Do’ list.

While the episode may not have been critically acclaimed by reviewers, it has certainly received all the necessary acclaim from the reviewers that matter . . . the fans. QANTAS (the Australian airline featured in a large number of scenes from the episode) has received a 25% increase in US website views, there has been an avalanche of positive word-of-mouth from US fans on social media and the episode is currently sitting at number one on iTunes charts. And that sounds like a pretty good result to me!