The World: Insider's view - Australia

Australians are proud of their national character and the unique environment in which they live.

Two of Australia's highest-rating TV programmes in the past decade have been about backyards. It's a fact: we love our backyards.

As technology brings the world to our backyards, we've begun to appreciate what we have even more. We've long thought of ourselves as "The Lucky Country", but we now see ourselves as the luckiest country. And we are starting to see this as something we need to protect.

Australians revel in the opportunities greater access provides, but we also want to ensure that, in this global culture, we don't lose our "Australian-ness". We aren't sure how to define this exactly but words such as mateship, fair go, can-do, irreverence and genuine are a good start.

Nike's recent campaign to support its sponsorship of the Socceroos - the Australian national football team - played straight into the Australian spirit.

History said Australia hadn't qualified for the World Cup for 32 years, that we'd never scored a goal in the tournament, that we didn't stand a chance in the same group as Brazil. But the idea we were just going to the World Cup to make up the numbers was rejected outright.

Never underestimate the Aussie spirit. We love being the underdog. We were going to the World Cup to create history, not respect it. From this the idea "Stuff History" was born, connecting Nike and football- crazy kids in a common goal.

Nike tapped into the Australian psyche. It leveraged and celebrated "Australian-ness" at a time when we are looking to dial up these values. And it paid off with recognition of Nike as a major sponsor far outweighing actual investment.

But it is not just our "Australian-ness" that we are looking to keep alive in our backyards. As our suburban lawns turn a lighter shade of brown; our attention is shifting to the bigger backyard, the country itself. Concerns about the environment and, in particular, water conservation are gaining momentum.

As we become more aware of our own role in keeping Australia lucky, we are responding to businesses and brands that are playing their part as fellow Australians.

More than ever, we are asking big businesses to show their true colours. Openness and honesty resonate with Australians like never before. A few companies are responding well. But Australians do not believe companies are doing enough, although there is a gap between perception and reality here. Many companies have major social and environmental programmes; they just haven't worked out how to connect these with consumers.

The impact "doing the right thing" has on our purchasing behaviour is yet to be fully understood, but it stands to reason that Australians will give preference to those that are helping protect their backyard.

- Nicole Milward is the managing partner of Publicis Mojo Australia.

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