Saturday, July 31st, 2010
Tourism advertising and branding of Australia is hurting Australian companies exporting technology and innovation, according to a new study. Based upon interviews with 50 Australian CEOs of mid to small businesses, the response is very clear. Being positioned internationally as a nation of boofheads, serial BBQ’ers and boozers makes it difficult to be taken seriously when selling complex and advanced technology overseas.

The interviews were conducted by Kimon Lycos, who is a leading expert on Business-to-Business marketing, and Adjunct Professor with RMIT University. Each interview covered a range of topics designed to understand how companies believe they can become more competitive when exporting and commercialising technology for global markets.

An overwhelming response, was the continual positioning of Australian’s as the “joker in the pack.” 89% bemoaned the run of high profile advertising campaigns, starting with Paul Hogan’s “throw a shrimp on the barbie,” then, “Where the bloody hell are you?” and now the song and dance, “There’s Nothing Like Australia.”

“If the world was a town, then Australian’s are, by our own voice, known as the village idiot,” says Kimon Lycos. “It is very difficult to export high-tech products, given the long sales cycles, and commercial requirements at the best of times. The string of international branding creates a cringe factor when declaring the country of origin being Australia.

“Further, 73% described the difficulty of establishing in the US, with American subordinates/employees considering Australian managers and suppliers to be inferior, and not worthwhile listening to. Those who took a consensus building path with US based subsidiaries, found the process frustrating and ultimately not very rewarding. Those who took a hard line, and quickly established the pecking order enjoyed a faster swing in attitude away from that Australian’s are all “Dundee’s,” says Kimon Lycos.

The findings also reveal that the cringe factor has transformed 38% of CEO’s into hometown snobs, preferring to deal with overseas suppliers or contractors, rather than look at local options.

“When companies seek to expand internationally, the risks are huge. CEO’s of smaller, investor funded companies, become very self conscious and want to be seen to be taking the “right” or “safe” option, which means to snub their fellow countrymen, in favour of saying that they have an international relationship,” continues Kimon Lycos.

This approach was often found to end in disaster, with 71% admitting that they didn’t gain value for money, and that they suspected off-shore suppliers also operate with a poor attitude. Again, especially with US based suppliers who “don’t listen,” “display arrogance”, and “seek to establish the agenda”.

On a positive note, 89% of the CEO’s believe that brand Australia has helped relationships, by being portrayed as laid back, easy to conduct business with, and trustworthy. The trick is to breakdown the negative stereotypes, in order for potential customers or partners to discover what really exists underneath.

Contact Profile

Kimon Lycos

Adjunct Professor, RMIT University, and MD of B2B marketing communications agency, Mihell & Lycos
Kimon Lycos
P: 0400 263 740


technology, innovation, export, marketing


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