Australia is trying to lure more European backpackers with a $10 million campaign launched in London.
Tourism Australia organised a pop-up beach at one of the city’s busiest train stations as a backdrop for the launch, but faced a few challenges.
Shipping sand into Victoria Station was out of the question so the ‘beach’ was the concrete floor of the station.
The lifeguards were all young Britons employed by a promotional company for the photoshoot — and none of them had ever been to Australia.
One of them told the ABC he was engaged to an Australian and “hoped to move there”.
Officials suggested taxpayers would have been outraged if real lifesavers had been flown in.
Although, they could have found volunteers from among the thousands of Australians living in London, who would have been more than happy to play the role of lifesaver.
In another near-miss, security officers at the train station were not pleased television crews arrived with tripods and ordered they be taken down.
Eventually, a compromise was reached to allow the use of tripods for a short press conference with Tourism Minister Steve Ciobo and reality TV celebrity Lucy Watson, who starred in Made in Chelsea.
(Don’t worry, I didn’t know her either, but apparently she has 1.3 million Instagram followers and is considered to be a ‘good get’ when it comes to publicity.)
But — celebrity or not — the security officers were still fretting about the tripods and threatened to shut the interview down halfway through.
Post-Brexit Britons still welcome in Australia
Public relations stunts can be a minefield.
By the time Australian High Commissioner Alexander Downer arrived and innocently inquired as to whether any of the promotional lifesavers were actually Australian, it was game over.
At least there were no budgie smugglers in sight — something to be grateful for.
Despite the hiccups, Tourism Australia wants young Britons to ignore the uncertainty over Brexit and know they are still very welcome in Australia.
This tourism Australia launch in London is a fizzer. Victoria station says cameras have to go for health and safety. And where's the sand? pic.twitter.com/orlekdEbn1
— Jacquelin Magnay (@jacquelinmagnay) October 25, 2016
“It’s a chance to reinforce what a great time it is to come to Australia,” Mr Ciobo said.
“In Australia right now instead of being cold and grey, it’s warm, 28 degrees, blue skies, great beaches.
“We’ve reduced the cost of working visas and people can stay for up to two years to stay and work in a variety of places across Australia.”
Tourism Australia targets backpackers in London
"targeting Irish, French, German & Italian"
White Australia lives onhttps://t.co/1TAqP2fuNK
— Bruce Ross (@brucerossbrc) October 25, 2016
The campaign is targeting Irish, French, German and Italian working holiday-makers.