South Australia’s latest attempt to promote itself as a destination of choice has fallen flat with locals, and is being widely condemned on social media as offensive and ageist.
- The SA Tourism Commission’s latest ad features a solitary old man breaking down into tears
- Intended to entice tourists by making them fear the regret of not coming, it has been slammed on social media
- Critics have labelled the ad “depressing” and “ageist”, but the commission has defended its product
The ad Don’t Feel Sorry For Old Mate… headlines the South Australian Tourism Commission’s summer marketing campaign and was released over the weekend.
It features a solitary elderly man, called Dave, at a range of tourist spots, including a vineyard and a jetty.
The final scene shows the man undertaking the roof climb at Adelaide Oval before starting to cry, with a voiceover then proclaiming: “Don’t feel sorry for old mate. It’s his own damn fault he didn’t visit Adelaide sooner.”
Social media users have been left baffled, slamming the ad as “confusing”, “condescending” and “ageist”, with one commenting it would not “entice anyone to visit our state”.
“Don’t like it at all. It’s not funny or quirky, [it] just mocks an old man who is lonely,” one Facebook user said.
Another wrote it was “so depressing” that it “needs the Lifeline number at the end”.
“If it truly is an advertising campaign, then it’s a terrible mistake,” another said.
“Who is going to feel in any way encouraged to visit Adelaide after seeing this? I am appalled and surprised money was wasted on such dreadful sentiments.”
That feeling was echoed by others who described the ad as “sad”, “horrible” and “just shocking”.
“Apparently you aren’t allowed to enjoy life passed the age of 50. Travelling retirees should be one of our biggest target markets, but not with an ad like that,” one said.
An ABC Radio Adelaide listener described it as “offensive to our state and older people”.
The release of the 30-second video comes less than 12 months after a previous campaign was savagely ridiculed.
Not ‘everyone’s cup of tea’, commission concedes
SA Tourism Commission marketing executive director Brent Hill conceded he expected “some scepticism” but said the campaign was “designed to get people talking”.
“You’d be crazy if you made an ad like this and didn’t expect to get some response,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide.
“That’s obviously what it was designed to do — we definitely wanted to put something out there that was getting a message across. We knew it wasn’t going to be of everyone’s cup of tea.
“We want to punch home that message that too many people were saying ‘we’ll get to Adelaide one day’.”
The SA Tourism Commission has also released other ads promoting food and wine. (SA Tourism Commission)
The ad is part of a larger campaign including an Instagram account set up for the fictitious Dave to post his latest happy snaps.
“With a heart full of regret, [Dave] wrote a blog about the seven things to do in Adelaide in your 70s. But really, these things you should do, see and explore are for everyone,” the commission stated.
Adelaide advertising identity Sputnik applauded the strategy but questioned the execution.
“Brent said it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea,” he said.
“I’d love to know who’s cup of tea it will be, because older people seem to be a bit offended by it and younger people seem to be offended by it in a whole different way.”
But Mr Hill defended the ad, saying “time will tell” if the strategy is a success.
“While there are lots of positives around Adelaide, there are still some dated misconceptions and perceptions around churches and it being quiet or boring,” he said.
“Much of this perception though is based on dated knowledge — people haven’t been for a while, or are hearing third-hand from others.”
Mr Hill said the target market was people from interstate aged 25 to 45.
“The campaign is designed around Adelaide being a little more confident in who we are,” he said.
“It’s a competitive landscape out there, and we need to cut through. Our message — come down, see it for yourself, and don’t put it off.”