The man behind those tourism ads

Jeff Darling's 'Be Consumed' ad for the Barossa, featuring a song from Nick Cave, attracted praise and criticism.
Jeff Darling's 'Be Consumed' ad for the Barossa, featuring a song from Nick Cave, attracted praise and criticism. 

The man behind the controversial Barossa Valley commercial for the South Australian Tourism Commission is at it again, this time with a similarly moody ad focusing on Adelaide and involving an astronaut floating around the city to the soundtrack of an INXS hit song.

Director Jeff Darling is also the force behind the Kangaroo Island "Let yourself go" advertisement released early last year and credited with a surge in tourist interest.

His Barossa "Be Consumed" ad, screening in cinemas and on television, has also resulted in record tourist inquiries, but the ad has raised eyebrows since it started screening last May.

It shows evocative images of the Barossa countryside and tables of food, but also a woman plucking a chicken, a man holding dead rabbits and a girl in a white dress lying in dirt. It's all set to the eerie soundtrack of Right Red Hand by Nick Cave.

The ad was featured on the Gruen Planet, where it was praised by the panel, even though host Wil Anderson joked that a state known for serial killers shouldn't be using such imagery.

Mr Darling said the key approach to all three of the "touchy-feely" ads had been to emotionally connect audiences to the places.

"The aim has been to leave them with a sense of experience and feeling for the destinations.

"It's not about ticking boxes (to show every attraction). That's just wallpaper."

Mr Darling welcomes criticism that the Barossa ad is too dark.

"I think it's great people see it like that. These things need to be challenging, otherwise it gets boring and people overlook them. Yeah, it is a bit dark but it poses the challenge that there is something there and are you brave enough to experience it."

The latest ad launched in Sydney on Sunday and will be rolled out around the rest of Australia in the coming months.

It shows Port Willunga beach, McLaren Vale, the Adelaide Hills, as well as iconic elements of the city including Adelaide Oval, Rundle Street and the city's laneways.

"It tries to express the atmosphere, experiences and feelings of the places," said Mr Darling who has also worked on tourism ads for Jamaica, Abu Dhabi and the famous Qantas "Still call Australia Home" ad.

"One of the protagonists in the Adelaide ad is an astronaut who falls to earth and slowly discovers the environment. The final caption is 'breathe', so the final moments are about the character taking off the helmet showing they are able to breathe in this new city they have discovered."

The soundtrack of the INXS hit Never Tear Us Apart is by young Brisbane singer Emma Louise, a Triple J Unearthed winner.

The South Australian Tourism Commission's acting marketing director Emma Fletcher said: "There's lots going on in the city. There have been licensing changes so small bars are popping up and the nightlife is gaining momentum. Adelaide Oval has reopened after redevelopment and the river precinct is going to be redeveloped. We feel like things are happening and now is the right time to push Adelaide."

However, not everyone is happy with the new Adelaide advertisement, with the South Australian opposition's tourism spokesman David Ridgway labelling it a waste of taxpayer's money and claiming the ad is designed to help the State Government in the lead up to the new election.

Lonely Planet recently rated Adelaide as one of the top 10 cities to visit in the world this year.

"Adelaide is effortlessly chic – and like a perfectly cellared red, it's ready to be uncorked and sampled," the travel publisher said.

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