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Transcript of interview with Neil Mitchell: 3AW: 26 August 2009: Building Brand Australia.

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26 August 2009 

Subject: Building Brand Australia  

3AW Mornings with Neil Mitchell 

NEIL MITCHELL: Simon Crean is the Trade Minister, he's got $20 million to spend identifying Australia, and promoting it, working out what it should be. Simon Crean, good morning.


NEIL MITCHELL: We don't need the money - have a listen to this.

[Plays promotional advertisement]

NEIL MITCHELL: What else do we need?

SIMON CREAN: [Laughs] Well, I think we need more, Neil. You see, look - context - Australia is the country that's come, out of all developed countries, the best out of this global recession. We are in Asia and connected to Asia, which is the fastest-growing region in the world. But the more I travel in the region, the more I come to understand that people don't understand the full range of what we've got to offer. They like the fact that we're good at sport, they love the fact that we've got nice beaches, and we're a nice destination to come to. But we want them to see it as a place that's a place to invest in, set up their businesses in, to raise families in, to get educated in. This is a breadth of offers that Australia is so good at. We know it, but the rest of the world doesn't.

NEIL MITCHELL: And you want to encapsulate that in a campaign, in a slogan, in a logo?

SIMON CREAN: We've got to define much better the breadth of what we have to offer. Now New Zealand does it well, 100% Pure.

NEIL MITCHELL: You know that's 10 years old, that campaign? A 100% New Zealand...

SIMON CREAN: Yes, but it's a very effective campaign.

NEIL MITCHELL: Yeah, it is, yeah.

SIMON CREAN: We don't have to invent a logo, I mean I think the kangaroo is fantastic, but I'm not a marketer - leave that to the creative experts. This is not just trying to find a new logo, it's trying to get greater definition into what we know we're good at. We've got ten

Nobel prize winners in this country. We are an exporter of education services par excellence. A good case in point, the Indian students thing. Not only safety Neil, this is debasing the brand, because our brand is quality education. There's no point - we've got Indian students saying, "we came expecting a course that wasn't delivered". We've got to protect that brand, but we've got to promote it, and this this is what I want the campaign to be.

NEIL MITCHELL: So where's the $20 million go, what do you spend it on?

SIMON CREAN: Well, it's $20 million over four years. The up-front cost is simply the design, the rest of it will be the how we go about promoting it. But we've got a golden opportunity at the Shanghai Expo next year, to launch this on the international ... there's going to be 70 million people going through the Expo, Neil, and China is going to be the fastest growing economy in the world, for years to come. What have we got to offer China beyond resources? We now know they want clean energy, not just resources, but that's a brand. Clean energy, a clean energy super power, supplying to an energy-hungry world.

NEIL MITCHELL: But surely it depends on what we're trying to sell, if we're trying to convince somebody in California to come to Australia for a holiday, we've got one approach, if we're trying to convince somebody in India to come here to study, it's another approach, if we're trying to convince China to come and buy some natural gas, its another approach. Is there really one over-arching approach?

SIMON CREAN: Yes, you see, what I find as I go to these countries is that they have got no idea of the breadth of what we have to offer. China was a good case in point recently. They're going through a massive urbanisation exercise, 400 million new homes they're going to have to build in two decades. We took up a business mission of designers, architects, town planners, smart building construction products, smart lighting, all of that sort of stuff. China wants our help in that regard. This is an export of something that we've become very good at, quality urban living. Why can't we export that to the rest of the world? But we've got to give them the perception that we're not just a beach, that we are smart cities, we are clever cities, we are an inclusive people, we have good social infrastructure, good community involvement. It's this brand, it's this notion that we've got to sell a lot better.

NEIL MITCHELL: Well you travel a lot, if you were to sum up what the image of Australia is at the moment, what is it?

SIMON CREAN: I think Australia has amazed the rest of the world at its ability to dodge the bullet on the global recession, and people are taking much more notice...

NEIL MITCHELL: We're not quite there yet, are we?

SIMON CREAN: No, I don't claim victory, I'm just telling you, you've asked me the perception they've got, they think we have. I keep having to bring them back to earth and say, "well we're only a small country of 22 million people", but why have we done it? Because we understood two decades ago that our future was ...tied inextricably to Asia and it still is. We understood the importance - if we're going to trade with the rest of the world, we have to become a more competitive nation. We have to become more productive, so we did. We set about the big reforms that have positioned us. It's a much…

NEIL MITCHELL: So what's the image? I mean we've dodged a bullet but what do they see us as? Do they still see us as the beach?

SIMON CREAN: Clever and quality.

NEIL MITCHELL: They do see us as that already.

SIMON CREAN: They - what, the beach? I think they see us as the beach, I want them to see us as clever and quality as well.


SIMON CREAN: And beach. Yeah. I mean, I want them to come for the holidays, this is, I mean I've been working with Martin Ferguson on this in terms of tourism but it's taking it beyond the place that you simply come for a holiday. We want them to see us as a place you

come to either buy a quality good or service or a place that you would draw that good and service if you were trying to do something in your own country.

NEIL MITCHELL: That New Zealand campaign you mentioned, 100% Pure New Zealand, that's worked for them?

SIMON CREAN: I think it has, but they've got it - they haven't got the same diversified economic base as us, Neil. It's worked for them in food, I've got no doubt about that. But you look at Australia. It ... has got clever manufacturing. I think we can, for this state, get good positioning in the automotive sector in China, for example. Why? Not because we can compete with the cheap end of [indistinct] but because we have a capability in design, in smart engineering, all those sorts of things. But I also understand that our future is going to be around the services economy. It's already 80 per cent of our domestic economy but it's only a third of our exports. Now how do we promote better the fact that we're not just a great commodity supplier, a great agricultural supplier ... an evaluated dimension of both of those, but we're a great service supplier as well.

NEIL MITCHELL: So it's open…

SIMON CREAN: Who knows, you could be broadcasting over there. I know you go over for the ANZAC days but our broadcasting, training broadcasters, as these economies open up, as they're looking for an increasingly diversified population that is looking for variety and quality in that service space. Australia is in a great position to be able to take advantage of these opportunities.

NEIL MITCHELL: How will you decide this? You'd [indistinct] for tenders.

SIMON CREAN: Competitive tender.



NEIL MITCHELL: Ad agencies presumably.

SIMON CREAN: Yeah, well we'll put it out for competitive tender. It's not just an ad. It's a concept, it's a design, it's - and this is what I grapple with. I know what the problem is but I don't know precisely how to define it. That's why you've got to seek professional advice, but I'm delighted that we're getting a lot of interest in this. I mean our office has been running hot. I think this is a great concept, they're sending forward ideas. What we've really got to do is to capture the best of that and get some creativity, some thought processes going in, how do we better promote what we know we're good at. Because if we have to sell to the rest of the world, we've got to define better what we're good at.

NEIL MITCHELL: Yeah but we're not great self-salesmen in this country, we don't - we put ourselves down, which I don't think is a bad thing actually.

SIMON CREAN: And I think that is one of the qualities that people like. There's almost a humility, a sort of…

NEIL MITCHELL: Well unless you're the Prime Minister.

SIMON CREAN: [Laughs] No, well he's got - you haven't seen his humble side.

NEIL MITCHELL: [Laughs] No I haven't.

SIMON CREAN: We have. We have, I'll share it with you one day.


SIMON CREAN: No, no, but I think that we do need that preparedness to not just let people think we punch above our weight - because we do - but promote better the fact that we can.

NEIL MITCHELL: Does it necessarily mean having a famous Australian selling it or not?

SIMON CREAN: I don't know. Let's…


SIMON CREAN: Let's see what the creative proponents come up with. We've got lots of great Australians, they're well-known overseas, but…

NEIL MITCHELL: Did you see the survey, the list - a list of Australian personal brands just done by the marketers today. Kylie Minogue is number one, Elle MacPherson, Shane Warne, Dame Edna, Greg Norman, Steve Irwin, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman. Kevin Rudd's

number nine.

SIMON CREAN: Oh, he's up there in the top 10.

NEIL MITCHELL: You can have him doing the ads.

SIMON CREAN: We don't even have to pay him.


NEIL MITCHELL: Eddie McGuire's number 13, you should…

SIMON CREAN: That should keep the $20 million down if we use Kevin.

NEIL MITCHELL: Yeah okay, so when do we think it'll be up and running?

SIMON CREAN: Well what I'm aiming for, Neil, is to have this launched domestically by the early part of next year, say February, but then for the Shanghai Expo, which begins in May. I want to take every opportunity we can to showcase us to the fastest growing market in

the world but the breadth of our offer, to that fastest-growing market in the world. To pitch to the regions, not just to Beijing. To understand that there is huge opportunity in China, the two economies are interdependent, we've got to strengthen that interdependency.

NEIL MITCHELL: I'll just make the point again though, you're not going to have the same campaign in China as you are in West Coast US, surely.

SIMON CREAN: No, but we'll take advice on that. Surely people will have to understand, but I - somehow we've got to get a concept out there, an ability to present the fact that we, in all of those I think the two things that we can promote really well, three things if you like; education, clean food, food bowl to Asia, clean nutritional quality food, we can kill them in that market if we promote it well.

NEIL MITCHELL: That's an unfortunate choice of words.


SIMON CREAN: Perhaps stop the killing in that market if we take the Melamine scare. No but think about it, and clean energy. You look at - this gas deal isn't just the gas itself, it's the sequestration, the carbon capture, what the world is looking for in terms of climate change.

Methane gas, in essence, methane gas is clean coal. It leaves the coal in the ground and takes the gas.

NEIL MITCHELL: You sound like an advertising man already. All you need is a ponytail and a push and you can do it yourself.

SIMON CREAN: No, I'm a passionate man, I'm determined. I believe in this country, I've got great belief in this country, Neil. I think that there is a huge potential and the fact that we've grown when the rest of the world has gone into recession and the fact that we're in the region that is still growing, as a developing world, we can get great market share if we're smart about it. Now part of that is opening up the markets, that's why so active in the trade negotiations. Another part is investing in the things that keep us competitive. The education

revolution, the infrastructure stuff, but the other part of it is getting people to understand the breadth of what we've got to offer.

NEIL MITCHELL: Thank you for your time.

SIMON CREAN: Thanks, Neil.

NEIL MITCHELL: Trade Minister Simon Crean.


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