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Interview with advertising agency representative following the Prime Minister's comments on Australia's image

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: In a moment, we'll be talking to Mo from the Mojo advertising team, and his response to criticisms by Prime Minister, Paul Keating, that the Paul Hogan ads portrayed Australians as yobbos and, effectively - well, sold us short.

He's taken on the Poms, doesn't like the Queen, doesn't like the flag, and now, Prime Minister, Paul Keating, has taken another national image, Paul Hogan and the Aussie shrimp, and he's taken that on, as well. And if you're caught with a can in your hands, you, too, don't fit the new image of Australia.

On Adelaide radio, yesterday, Mr Keating said it was a pity that Paul Hogan's 'shrimp on the barbie' image was being promoted when it didn't accurately reflect Australia's cultural diversity, subtlety, and scientific achievements. In fact, he implied that it sold us short as a nation.

The man who came up with the 'shrimp on the barbie' campaign begs to differ. Alan Morris is the 'Mo' from the Mojo advertising campaign which launched Paul Hogan's barbecue prowess, and is with me now. Good morning.

ALAN MORRIS: Good morning.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Alan, did you get it all horribly wrong?

ALAN MORRIS: According to Paul Keating, yes. I guess that he got the Sarich engine horribly wrong. He seems to have supported lots of different things; he's now playing with our crown jewels.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: All right. Now, tell me about the Paul Hogan 'shrimp on the barbie' ads and that campaign. What do you think they achieved? What sort of image were you attempting to project?

ALAN MORRIS: Nothing crass, at all. We were trying to attract as many tourists to this country as we possibly could. Before Paul did the 'shrimp on the barbie' campaign - and that's your description, not mine - we had less tourists, per capita, than had New Zealand. New Zealand is about as attractive a tourist destination as was Alaska. Fortunately, that campaign tended to encourage more than two million tourists to come to Australia. We achieved over two million tourists, in numbers, the year after that campaign ran.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Did it play on Australian stereo-types?

ALAN MORRIS: I guess that's fairly true, but when you consider that Australian stereo-types are okay - at least in the United States, where they didn't even consider that Australia was a tourist destination. We were number 22 on top of mind awareness for tourist destinations. Top of Mind Awareness means if you ask an American 'Where would you like to go for your holiday?' - we came 22nd in the Top of Mind Awareness. When the campaign ran in the States - about six months later - were number one, number two, in terms of places 'I wish to go for my holiday'.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: The image that was projected - do you think it was a yobbo image?

ALAN MORRIS: No, not at all, just as much as the image presented for Winfield cigarettes was of Paul Hogan. He certainly wasn't, in Winfield cigarettes, wearing thongs and stubbies and sitting on a can of Fosters. He was dressed as an opera buff - of course, I'm going to get a lend of him.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Yes. Actually, Paul Hogan has never struck me as being a yob. He's almost the classical, urbane, urban Australian, even when he's in the outback.

ALAN MORRIS: I don't think he even uses five-letter words and stuff like that. The man's a genius. Maybe Paul should take some elocution lessons from him.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: What sort of Australia do you think Paul Keating's trying to project?

ALAN MORRIS: Oh, he's trying to take bad news off the front pages by inventing all sorts of other things.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: What, the politics of diversion?

ALAN MORRIS: Oh, goodness me. I'm sure that .... father fought for the flag that we proudly hoist from our flagpoles as well as my father fought for that one. There's other things to talk about other than the trivialities of Paul Hogan or the trivialities of the flag.


ALAN MORRIS: Kids out of work.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: What sort of image campaign do you think Paul Keating needs to, perhaps, correct his image, then?

ALAN MORRIS: I think he probably should present himself more closely as a person who farms pigs. He seems to be very well-qualified to do that.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: How do you think Paul Hogan would react to this sort of criticism, being described as a yob?

ALAN MORRIS: Oh, it's beneath his dignity. I think Paul has much more dignity than the other Paul. I don't think he'd worry about such trivialities from a new boy.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Why do you think Paul Keating's a new boy?

ALAN MORRIS: Oh, absolutely. He's had the job six months, hasn't he, by default?

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: You don't mean a new boy in terms of discovering his Australian identity?

ALAN MORRIS: Absolutely. I've not observed any comments in the past of him being so patriotic. Have you?

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Well, no - not as Treasurer, anyway.

ALAN MORRIS: No, that's fairly true. Oh, as Treasurer, I guess, if he signed a cheque that suggest - oh, Paul Hogan, incidentally, did those commercials for free and for gratis and for nothing. I think it's pretty difficult to now be so critical of somebody who donated something for their country.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: All right. I wonder what sort of tourism campaign, then, Paul Keating would design.

ALAN MORRIS: I think he'd probably have 12 people going to the opera each year, from Japan, maybe.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: You don't think you're being a bit harsh?

ALAN MORRIS: Oh, 13 - I'm a generous person.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Alan Morris, I know you've got a big day ahead of you. Thanks for talking to me, this morning.

ALAN MORRIS: My pleasure. Good morning.