Baz Luhrmann to direct Australian tourism ad

LONDON - Antipodean film director Baz Luhrmann is to produce and direct a TV commercial for Tourism Australia, which will coincide with the marketing campaign for his forthcoming epic film 'Australia'.

Earlier this month, DDB Worldwide scooped the £85m account for the tourist board. It was thought that the agency would spearhead the global ad campaign, which would break in October and be designed to ride the wave of publicity ahead of the November release of Luhrmann's new film.

However, Tourism Australia today issued a statement saying that Luhrmann himself and his production company Bazmark would create the TV element to the campaign.

Geoff Buckley, Tourism Australia's managing director, said: "The combined weight of the film and this campaign will provide Australia with its most powerful push in decades."

Australia's $85bn tourism industry is currently experiencing slow growth because of rising oil prices and the credit crunch. Tourism Australia hopes the marketing push will reverse that trend and attract more visitors, especially from the US.

Michelle Gysberts, vice-president of Tourism Australia's Americas, said: "A further objective is to demonstrate that a vacation to Australia can easily fit into a typical American vacation schedule."

Luhrmann's contribution will form the main thrust of the campaign and will run on TV screens, in cinemas and online in the tourist board's international markets. Print work will be developed by DDB in consultation with Bazmark.

Luhrmann said: "When Tourism Australia came to us, we were reticent at first because we did not want to confuse the promotion of the film with a tourism campaign.

"The more we talked, the more I realised that we both had the same aims -- to celebrate the truly unique and transformative power of this ancient and extraordinary continent. With this in mind, we agreed to put our team into the conception and realisation of a contemporary campaign which, while not aping the film, reflects this singular and attractive truth."

DDB won the account in July, following a final contest against Saatchi & Saatchi. The review process started in February and involved Publicis Mojo, Singleton Ogilvy & Mather, Whybin\TBWA and incumbent agency M&C Saatchi.

The "Australia" campaign has been conceived to celebrate the continent and will feature themes of romance, adventure, transformation and Aboriginal music.

Luhrmann's 'Australia' movie stars Nicole Kidman, who appeared in the director's ad for Channel No 5 and 'Moulin Rouge', opposite 'X-Men' star Hugh Jackman.

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