GLOBAL MEDIA INDUSTRIES ADVERTISING ADAPTATION (2016)
ADVERTISING ADAPTATION: AUSTRALIA TO SAUDI ARABIA
Australia’s 2006 Tourism campaign, ‘So Where the Bloody Hell Are you?’ (Macleod 2006) promotes the luxurious, recreational and laid-back Australian lifestyle in a cheeky and adventurous way. The advertisement opens showing a pub in the outback; farmers in cool clothing enjoying a beer served by a female bartender wearing minimal clothing. A woman is shown, casually dressed, leading a train of camels through the desert. A woman wearing a bikini walks out of the water and onto the sand, before a young boy in board shorts surfaces from under the water in a swimming pool wearing white zinc on his face. A leisurely golfer looks up from his activity, as kangaroos bounce through the course. Sea planes land on the water and swimmers explore the open waters; showcasing the leisurely exploration that Australia has to offer. Three young women stand on Sydney Harbour watching an evening fireworks display, as a blonde woman says, “We’ve turned on the lights.” Aboriginal dancers covered in body paint rehearse traditional dances in the open desert, before we again see the young woman in a bikini on the beach, as she says, “So where the bloody hell are you?” As the camera cuts to a long shot we see her standing on a sunny white beach. This advertisement features Australian slang, leisure activities and tourist opportunities; highlighting the Australian lifestyle in a rather ‘in your face’ and in-depth way. Some countries however, have taken offence to the nature of the last line of dialogue; with Japan, Korea, Thailand and Singapore showing versions of the campaign without the explicit language (Macleod 2006).
In July 2014, IGI Global published a study where Middle Eastern tourists visited the Gold Coast, Queensland. They recorded data on the extent to which Australian accommodation management met their culturally specific needs. The number of Middle Eastern tourists visiting Australia has increased by more than 400% in 20 years (El-Gohary et al. 2014, p. 138), and this demographic is therefore a substantial market; crucial to be catered to appropriately. Results encompassed recognising the religious customs of Middle Easterners, such as providing arrows that point towards the “Qiblah” direction in Islam’s holy city of Mecca during prayers. The article states that, “…if Australian tourism aspires to attract…this tourism sector, the industry…must understand and cater to Middle Eastern tourists distance requirements.” (El-Gohary et al. 2014, p. 146).
In order to present this advertisement in Saudi Arabia, several things need to be changed to make it culturally appropriate for a more conservative audience.
- The consumption of alcohol in Saudi Arabia is illegal, as, due to a history with alcohol abuse, the consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited by the muslim god Islam (Michalak & Trocki 2006, p. 531). There are harsh punishments for those caught producing, importing or consuming alcohol within the country. No legal bars exist in the country, and secret locations where home brewed alcohol is served sometimes takes place in hidden rooms in villas (Drug and Alcohol Rehab Asia 2008-2016). The pub scene in the advertisement therefore, will need to be deleted or modified for this new audience. The opening scene could begin at the camel train scene, modifying or adding to the woman’s dialogue to compensate for lost dialogue in the pub scene. Alternatively, the opening scene could take place in an alternative location, perhaps a cafe or a restaurant that does not show any serving or consumption of alcohol. The existing scene could just be modified to exclude the vision of alcohol, however, since bars don’t exist for the reason of having no purpose for them, it would probably be most suitable to just change the location entirely to avoid any implicated alcohol reference.
- The people in the advertisement must be wearing more conservative clothing. It is forbidden and even illegal for women to show their hair or skin, especially knees or collarbones in public. Women wear a whole body-covering robe called an abaya, as well as a headscarf. Men wear a white thobe and a checked towel on their heads called a guthra. These customs were established upon the 18th Century Al Saud monarchy who began following the rules of Islam, named ‘Wahhabism’(Saudi Arabia’s Dress Code for Women, 2015). These rules exist in the nation until today, growing more valued and enforced over time. For an advertisement to be sufficiently noticed and valued in Middle Eastern Culture, it will need to show the respect of adhering to these ancient customs in order to be successful. In a questionnaire conducted by academic Nadia Yusuf (2014, p. 68), 70% of panelists believed that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is closed to the idea and customs of tourism. This shows that, in order for this advertisement to be received in this culture, we must follow these clothing customs as closely as possible; replacing the minimal choice of clothing such as bikinis and shorts to more covered up, traditional Islamic dress to avoid any reason for the audience to reject it.
- The ending dialogue will need to be changed to less offensive language. As well as this, the language will need to be changed to the local language Arabic in order to communicate the message to the audience. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam; containing the holy cities Mecca and Medina. The government reaffirmed its obligations to Islam after the 1990 Gulf War with Iraq (Campo 2012, p. 1132). Under Islamic religion, it is considered evil to use any form of harsh or profane language. It is believed that, in doing so, one would be helping the ‘Shaytan’(the Islamic devil) (Abdullah 2007). It would therefore be advisable to use less offensive language, in order to avoid any sort of negative connotation of the slogan, ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ Instead, using a tagline with a more positive tone such as ‘Come and explore the possibilities’, will ensure the Australian tourism industry comes across as inviting and non-threatening to a more conservative audience.
Macleod, D 2006, ‘Tourism Australia: Where the bloody hell are you?’, The Inspiration Room, 26 Feb, viewed 16 April 2016, <http://theinspirationroom.com/daily/2006/tourism-australia>
El-Gohary, H, & Eid, R 2014, Emerging Research on Islamic Marketing and Tourism in the Global Economy, IGI Global, USA.
Michalak, L & Trocki, K 2006, ‘Alcohol and Islam: an overview’, Contemporary Drug Problems, vol. 33, no. 4, pp. 523(40).
Drug and Alcohol Rehab Asia 2008-2016, ‘Alcohol in Saudi Arabia’, Drug and Alcohol Rehab Asia, viewed 18 April 2016, <http://alcoholrehab.com/alcoholism/alcohol-in-saudi-arabia/>
‘Saudi Arabia’s Dress Code for Women’ 2015, The Economist, 28 Jan
Yusuf, N 2014, ‘Tourism development in Saudi Arabia’, Journal of Business and Retail Management Research, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 65-70.
Campo, J 2012, ‘Saudi Arabia’, in M Juergensmeyer & WC Roof, (eds), Encyclopaedia of Global Religion, Gale Virtual Reference Library
Abdullah, M 2007, ‘Cursing is prohibited’, Learning our Deen (Islam), 23 July, viewed 17 April 2016, <https://learndeen.wordpress.com/2007/07/23/cursing-is-prohibited/>