You Little Ripper: How Tourism Australia’s CMO is selling Australia to the world

Tourism Australia CMO SXSW Sydney samsung ads

Plus: Why SXSW is the perfect launching pad

Tourism Australia

One of the highlights of South by South West Texas every year is Australia House, located in the heart of the action on Rainey Street. Australia House functions as an all-encompassing Australian experience featuring technology showcases, music performances, keynote speakers, and interactive displays by some of Australia’s leading experts in the film, music, creative, and innovation sectors.

Presented by the American Australian Association (AAA), the multi-day schedule included a host of opportunities to engage in panel discussions as well as unique food, wine, and tourism experiences.

One of the founding partners of Australia House is Tourism Australia, which was represented in Texas by its Chief Marketing Officer, Susan Coghill, who spoke with Mediaweek about the value of SXSW and Tourism Australia’s new Come and Say G’day campaign.

Coghill said that with this being the fourth year of Australia House, the concept was just getting bigger and better.

“South by Southwest is the perfect mix of creativity, technology influences, and people that will carry our message and will influence other people’s travel decisions. We love to be a part of that, we love to be a part of that energy, and we love to be part of showcasing the best of Australia. We feel that is our job every single day anyway, but doing that with somebody like South Australia, and to be doing that with the Australian American Association – that relationship between our two nations informs everything we do. It’s really taking advantage of an incredible media moment, and a cultural moment within America to showcase the best of our country.”

At SXSW, Coghill was on the Australia House panel “Enticing Travel through Song, Art, and the Written Word” which featured an in-depth discussion of the power of the arts in tourism storytelling

The campaign saw Ruby, the animated souvenir Kangaroo and Tourism Australia’s global ambassador Rose Byrne taking viewers on a journey around the Australian landscape and experiencing its hospitality. This campaign saw Tourism Australia solicit M&C Saatchi to create its first major global campaign since 2016.

“For our global reopening campaign, we felt it was important to really focus on the warm and welcoming nature of Australians,” said Coghill. “That’s what the world thinks about Australians anyway, we wanted to lean into that expectation. We wanted to have a global moment, a global grand reopening. This is why it was important for us to focus on the global simultaneous launch that we did back in October.”

How Tourism Australia takes on the US

Coghill said that SXSW was also a great platform to continue to promote the campaign due to the fact that US was such an important market for Australian Tourism. 

“The US is a key market for us. It’s number two in terms of visitation and expenditure. The potential here is enormous. There are actually more high-yielding travellers here than there are in any other market. You couple that opportunity with a platform like South by Southwest, which is full of the best, most interesting creative minds, who would fall in love with Australia if they had the opportunity to come down. We use it as a platform to tell them, knowing that they will amplify our message to their circles as well.”

Tourism Australia panel

Colin Daniels, Susan Coghill, and Cam Blackley



When asked about how best to target the American audience as a marketer, Coghill said that the task is made easier due to America’s love affair with Australia,

“Going back historically to Crocodile Dundee, going back to our musical roots and cinematic connections, there is a long-standing perception around Australia. There’s a love and affection for what Australia represents. Smart marketers who are market-oriented and who understands their consumer knows that you have to take the things that people know and love about your brand and leverage that to open hearts and minds, then stretch their understanding and their perception. We want to take the things that people love and associate with us, but then show them new and different parts of them.”

Coghill herself was born and raised in America but considers herself a true Australian. She said the dual understanding of both cultures helps her market the Land Down Under to the Land of Opportunity. 

“I’ve been a citizen for 10 years, so I am American Australian. Not only am I American, but I also have a very international focus as well. I went to school in Paris for a while when I was in university, I lived and worked in Singapore for four years and worked across the APAC region. I used to manage international accounts as well, so I’ve got quite diverse international experience. I know what it means to try and understand the consumer from a different culture, a different market.

“I 100%, bring that experience with me, bring that to bear on this job. Not only in terms of how we approach creative development and the work we get, but also in terms of how my team works with my teams around the world as well, and how we create a really collaborative and supportive working environment. When you’re talking about launching a campaign in America, it certainly helps that I’m American, although I haven’t worked here in 22 years!”

Word of Advice

When asked if she had any words of advice for people trying to break into the marketing industry, Coghill said to take advantage of the resources on offer.

“My advice would be to throw everything that you have at it. Learn as much as you can soak up as much as you can. Never have there been more training and education opportunities specific to marketing and advertising and digital expertise etc. There is a plethora of training programmes and ADMA runs incredible education programmes.

Mark Ritson‘s programmes are incredible as well. You will become a much more enlightened and well-rounded marketer if you take advantage of these opportunities that are out there. Newsletters and blogs on LinkedIn as well as publications like Mediaweek are great resources as well. There’s so much out there that people can take inspiration from and teach that I just feel were never really around when I was growing up so I’m kind of envious of the opportunities and other people moving into marketing.”

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