Tourism Australia has swapped Kylie Minogue for Ruby the souvenir kangaroo as it prepares to launch a major global advertising campaign to entice international visitors.
With international travel still at around 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, Tourism Minister Don Farrell told ABC Radio on Wednesday he hoped the mascot would be “the new Paul Hogan”.
Ruby is currently appearing on billboards in Singapore, London and New York but will eventually be voiced by Australian actress Rose Byrne, best known for her role in the film Bridesmaids.
It comes following an earlier $40 million global campaign in February that showcased a montage of landscapes.
However, it’s the first to feature a ‘frontman’ since a Kylie Minogue-backed campaign in 2019 was pulled due to the Black Summer bushfires.
Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison said, “We know that Australia consistently ranks high on people’s consideration list, but we need to get travellers to take that critical next step and book their holiday to Australia to experience everything we have to offer.
“Visitor economies around the world are looking to rebuild as we emerge from the pandemic, and that will make the tourism landscape more competitive than ever before, which is why we have made sure Come and Say G’day will cut through and make Australia stand out today and in the long term.”
The organisation’s chief marketing officer, Susan Coghill, said “The use of an animated character in Ruby was a deliberate move that aims to cut through the clutter of destination marketing internationally, and it is backed by research.
“In Australia, we’re so lucky to have a globally recognisable and adorable icon in the kangaroo, and to bring that to life through CGI animation creates a uniquely Australian brand ambassador in Ruby, who translates across both English and non-English speaking countries.”
The global campaign, titled Come and Say G’day, will formally launch on Wednesday, 19 October.
Tourism Minister Farrell launched the ad push in Tokyo, which on Tuesday fully reopened to Australian tourists who have been triple vaccinated. In Japan, the local actress Maryjun Takahashi will be the voice of Ruby.
It comes as Brisbane Airport’s CEO, Gert-Jan de Graaff, said he believes total travel volumes will finally exceed 2019 levels in 2025.
“Airlines need time to restart — some countries are still closed or have restrictions — and we need to rebuild the confidence of passengers to get on flights again,” he said. “However, I am confident that we will see, from 2025 onwards, volumes that will exceed 2019 levels.
“International travel has also picked up at a slower pace than domestic travel. Currently, we’re back to around 50 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels.”
The Kylie Minogue-fronted Matesong advert was pulled in January 2020 as the country suffered its worst bushfire season in a generation, which made global headlines. It featured cameos from Shane Warne, Ian Thorpe, and Ash Barty in iconic Australian locations.