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Aussie minister swears by ad despite UK TV ban

Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre disapproved of an ad featuring a bikini-clad model asking, "Where the bloody hell are you?"

india Updated: Mar 09, 2006 18:56 IST

Australia's tourism minister said Thursday that Britain's television advertising watchdog has banned a promotion containing a mild swear word, in a decision she labelled comical and out-of-touch.

Tourism Minister Fran Bailey said Britain's Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre had taken offence at Australia's latest pitch to holiday-makers, which features a bikini-clad model on a beach asking "Where the bloody hell are you?"

Bailey said the decision meant the catchline could not be shown on British television, but would still be seen in cinemas, print advertisements and online across the country.

"The regulators have clearly misplaced their sense of humour -- and this from the country that brought us Benny Hill, the Two Ronnies and Little Britain," she said.

"The reality of course is the regulator has given Australia a huge leg-up with their decision. This will generate priceless publicity, all of which helps generate interest in Australia."

The government launched the 180 million dollar (132 million US) international campaign last month.

Conservative Prime Minister John Howard defended the slogan as "anything but offensive" when it attracted criticism in Australia, although he refused to repeat the catchphrase on radio.

There had been concern that some Asian audiences might find it offensive and alternative versions were prepared for those markets, but Bailey said extensive market testing in Britain had generated positive feedback.

"The regulator is out of touch with British opinion," she said. "Based on our research and the initial feedback, the British are loving our cheeky sense of humour."

The advertisements, which feature Australians drinking beer, frolicking on the beach and relaxing in the Outback, are a return to the successful 1980s "Toss a shrimp on the barbie" campaign featuring "Crocodile Dundee" star Paul Hogan.

Recent campaigns have concentrated on the cultural experiences on offer in Australia and were considered too highbrow for an audience that basically wanted to see a kangaroo and enjoy the beach.

First Published: Mar 09, 2006 18:56 IST