Kylie Minogue has brought back her Neighbours character Charlene Robinson in a bid to lure Brexit-fatigued UK tourists to our shores.
It has been over a decade since the controversial ‘Where the Bloody Hell are You?’ ad.
But as last week’s hunt for a missing Scott Morrison showed, the phrase has remained firmly in the minds of Australians.
Now Tourism Australia has launched another cheeky video it hopes will be just as memorable – but without the controversy.
Still, already the campaign shows signs of being perceived as just as cringeworthy.
It has also drawn criticism from those who think the ad sugar-coats current political issues in Australia and is a sparkly, unrealistic portrayal of the country that almost entirely leaves our cities out in the cold.
In the Matesong musical video written by Offspring’s Eddie Perfect, Minogue journeys through different Australian settings including lying under a car in the guise of 1980s darling Charlene.
The singer, 51, said she was wary of climbing back into her mechanics overalls but loved the Ramsay Street throwback experience so much she’s kept them as a souvenir.
“I was ready to chicken out but I didn’t want to be half-arsed about it,” Minogue told News Ltd, adding the retro trip felt “really” bizarre.
“I had the scrunchie in my hair and everything, oh my God.”
The Melbourne native, who has lived in London for more than 30 years, admitted the perfect beer she poured for the ad at Byron Bay’s Northern Hotel was her first ever: “I just kept thinking … it can’t be that hard.”
Minogue is joined on the video by comedian Adam Hills – well known in the UK for his The Last Leg talk show – and there are cameos from sports stars Shane Warne, Ash Barty and Ian Thorpe.
In a departure from his world-beating spin, Warne is seen sending down a medium fast delivery as Minogue fields during backyard cricket.
“Phew, I can finally talk about this now,” Minogue said in a promo message after the three-minute video debuted on UK TV in the coveted spot just before the Queen’s Christmas message.
“It’s been so hard keeping this a secret.
“I hope you enjoyed that – and that was done with nothing but pure love.”
In the video, Brexit-fatigued Britons are invited to take a break from “what ails ya” and “call on your friends in Australia”.
The video is meant to convey mateship and show off Australia as a relaxed place to escape heavy topics and “turn off the news … kick off your shoes” and enjoy “grub”.
“Glorious United Kingdom, lean on your wingmen and women,” Minogue sings.
Other lines in the song include:
- “Don’t bite your nails to the cuticles, hang with aggressive marsupials.”
- “Sisters and brothers, we know you think you’re above us … but deep down you love us … you just repress emotions.”
- “Negotiating tricky trade deals is a shocker … but look! There’s a quokka.”
- “We speak your language … except for the vowels.”
There’s no mention of “bloody hell” in the ad but there are plenty of beaches including Cronulla, Rottnest Island and the Whitsundays. (Other famous locations including Taronga Zoo, and the Northern Territory gets a guernsey too.)
It finishes with Minogue saying, “So see ya soon then, yeah?”
Time will tell whether that more acceptable ending is a hit with UK viewers. But Australian critics have already been canning the ‘Philausophy’ campaign that – including the new video – reportedly cost some $38 million.
The ad celebrates backyard cricket, beer, the outback and sausages in bread, and is perhaps the first song to ever rhyme “shocker” with “quokka”.
The latter created some confusion with the Brits, and led to Tourism Australia having to explain the quokka is “the happiest animal on Earth”.
Plenty of other Twitter pledged to now come Down Under as soon as possible (“I’m not a Pom but this spoke to me”), although the golden screen image of the nation was challenged by some:
Musician Perfect tweeted on Thursday morning that Minogue was a “total delight”.
This year I got to write a song for Kylie Minogue and she was a total delight. https://t.co/BqlyCr7CCZ
— Eddie Perfect Official (@TheEddiePerfect) December 25, 2019
Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison said in a statement the timing of the launch capitalised on the northern hemisphere winter.
It’s “a time when many Brits are thinking about an overseas holiday, providing the perfect opportunity to engage with a captive audience and remind them why they should make that next trip to Australia,” she said.