International Marketing Campaign Comparative Critique Presentation Essay Example

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International Marketing Campaigns in Tourism: Malaysia vs. Australia

The purpose of this presentation is to compare two international marketing campaigns, and for this, the tourism marketing campaigns of Malaysia and Australia have been selected. In this presentation, the content and presentation of the marketing campaign through three types of media will be compared. First, television advertisement are assessed, followed by an examination of the two tourism authorities’ websites, and finally, the presentation of the marketing through social media, specifically Facebook. The main focus of the comparison will be on the differences and similarities in the approach, strategy, and rationale behind each country’s tourism marketing effort.

The reason for choosing tourism marketing for the focus of this analysis is that tourism is perhaps one of the most “international” things which can be marketed; a tourism marketing program is primarily directed to visitors from outside the country. The reason for choosing Malaysia and Australia for this comparison is that they are very similar in many respects in terms of their tourism programs and industries. Both are very successful at attracting visitors, and are considered among the most popular destinations in the world. Australia and Malaysia are also competitors in the tourism industry, and direct at least some of their marketing efforts at each others’ citizens. Through the first seven months of 2011, for example, 134,200 Malaysians visited Australia, a figure that represented an increase of 6.4% over the same period in 2010. (Tourism Australia, 2011) Although the figures for 2011 are not available from Malaysia, in 2010 the number of Australian visitors to that country also increased compared to a year earlier, climbing by almost 9% to reach 580,695. (“Malaysia Tourist Arrivals 2010”, 2011) Because of the similarities between the two countries, we can hypothesise that similar approaches and strategies are used for their tourism marketing programs, and by learning these we can identify a “recipe for success” in international tourism marketing.

To start our examination, we begin by comparing the recent television commercials aired by both tourism authorities. The commercials were viewed on YouTube, and a number of similarities and differences between them were noted. The Tourism Malaysia commercial features a montage of scenes intended to help the viewer visualize several “key points” displayed in text during the commercial: “Natural Wonders,” “Cultural Heritage,” and “Unforgettable Vacations.” The commercial concludes with the words, “Malaysia, Truly Asia,” which are also sung as part of the background song, and the web address of the official Tourism Malaysia website is prominently displayed on-screen as well.

The Tourism Australia commercial presents a similar montage of scenes a visitor can presumably see in Australia, shown over a background of vaguely-native sounding music. The words “Welcome to the Land ‘Down Under’…And its surrounds” greet the viewer with the first two scenes in the commercial, which ends with the phrase “Where else but…Australia” shown over Tourism Australia’s kangaroo logo.

Here’s a quick quiz: Name at least one iconic or well-known site in Malaysia and Australia that you would expect to see in a television commercial intended to attract visitors from other countries. While you consider that question, let’s look at the similarities and differences between the two commercials:

The commercials are different in that the Malaysian commercial is only 30 seconds long while the Australian commercial is a minute-and-a-half in length. That may not be significant, but one difference that is quite noticeable is that the Malaysian commercial depicts visitors interacting with local residents in a couple scenes, whereas the Australian commercial does not. Malaysia also features its brand and recognisable slogan quite clearly in the commercial, while Australia does not seem to have such a well-developed (and song-worthy) catchphrase. The two commercials are similar in the respect that they both show a variety of attractive scenes, focus more on natural scenery than urban or otherwise developed sites, use distinctive music in their commercials, and, somewhat interestingly, both depict the visiting tourists in the commercials as Caucasians.

And as for well-known sites in either country shown in the commercials? There are none. Neither commercial depicts iconic attractions such as the Petronas Tower in Kuala Lumpur, or Sydney’s Harbour Bridge.

The reason for this is that it seems that both countries take an undifferentiated consumer-oriented approach in their tourism marketing. (Riege & Perry, 2000) In this approach, they are targeting the average expectations of the widest possible market; another way to think of it is as the “something for everyone” approach. The reason for taking this approach is the nature of the “product” that is being marketed, which is not a product in the conventional sense but can be considered more an “experience.” The “destination” is “an amalgam of all the services and features that a tourist visitor will encounter” during his or her visit. (Buhalis, 2000) Therefore, what the marketing effort is trying to establish is a positive brand perception, where “Malaysia” or “Australia” represents a good experience for the visitor. In that respect then, the marketing effort is not really designed to sell a particular feature or sight to see, but rather an overall impression.

The approach is reflected in the two tourism authorities’ websites as well, but there are greater differences here than there are between the TV ads. First, the Tourism Malaysia website:

The Tourism Australia website, by comparison, is impossible to display here in the same way; because of the large amount of flash animation on the website, it is impossible to make a proper screen capture of the homepage. What greets visitors is a large number of images, such as….

The key differences between the two are the presentation, first of all; Australia’s website is heavily animated whereas Malaysia’s is not. Malaysia’s static page is also a bit easier to use; it is compact and does not require the viewer to “scroll down” to access other material, while Australia’s does. The most important difference, however, is that the Australian page makes a prominent appeal to domestic tourists – people from Australia visiting other parts of their own country, as well as foreign visitors. Malaysia’s website is clearly directed strictly at an international market. The two websites are similar in the respect that both are highly interactive, encouraging the user to navigate through many menus and sub-menus, and the menus are organised according to similar general categories: nature and the outdoors, food, shopping, recreation, and so on. Both websites also prominently feature social media “like” buttons, which is something we’ll take a look at in a moment.

There is a possible reason for the main difference, the inclusion of marketing to domestic tourists in Australia. While tourism is important for both countries, it is a more significant contributing factor for the Malaysian economy than it is for Australia. For any country, tourism is a driver of social improvement and national competitiveness. (Crouch & Ritchie, 1999) The difference, however, is that the goal for Australia is to spread the benefits from tourism more equitably across the country – hence the appeal to Australian holiday-makers – while for Malaysia, being still somewhat less-developed and therefore more impacted by the benefits of tourism, the goal is more unified for the entire country.

Now back to the matter of social media. Consideration of social media in marketing has become an important idea, because it can encourage the development of “virtual communities.” (Wang, et al., 2002) The interaction of people in these virtual communities creates opportunities for “word-of-mouth” marketing, which the marketer can leverage for his own benefit. This kind of marketing has the benefit of being cost-effective – it costs very little or nothing at all to maintain – and it is credible because it is based on real peoples’ experiences, often voluntarily shared with others. So how well do Malaysia and Australia use this marketing tool? First, the Tourism Malaysia Facebook page:

As we can see, it is fairly full of information and activity, and has almost 34,000 fans. The page is not called “Tourism Malaysia”, however, but rather “Malaysia, Truly Asia,” thus tying it clearly to the well-known brand and the other marketing efforts and making it more memorable and easy for new fans to find. Now Australia’s Facebook page on the other hand….

[wait for laughter]

Obviously, social media is a higher priority for Tourism Malaysia than it is for Tourism Australia.

This may reflect the relative difference in national priorities which guide the marketing efforts. For instance, many Australian city and state tourism organisations have their own Facebook pages. Or it may be simply an oversight or an actual failure to recognise the opportunity to leverage social media through Facebook on the part of Australian tourism marketing planners. Sometimes an apparent mistake is actually a mistake, after all, and that may be the case here.

In conclusion, we can say that the similarities between Malaysia’s and Australia’s tourism marketing programs do give us at least one example of a successful formula, that of pursuing an undifferentiated, customer-oriented marketing program that appeals to a wide customer base and the largest possible number of individual interests and expectations. However, the two countries do have some differences in the customers they are targeting, and this is reflected in differences in their two approaches.


“Australian Tourism Advertisment”. (2011) Video. Available from:

Buhalis, D. (2000) “Marketing the Competitive Destination of the Future”. Tourism Management, 21(1): 97-116.

Crouch, G.I., and Ritchie, J.R.B. (1999) “Tourism, Competitiveness, and Societal Prosperity”. Journal of Business Research, 44: 137-152.

“Malaysia Tourist Arrivals 2010”. (2011) Tourism Malaysia [PDF Document]. Available from:

Malaysia Truly Asia. (2010) Official Tourism Malaysia Facebook page. Available from:

“Malaysia Truly Asia — Commercial — Advertisement — Song – 2011”. (2011) Video. Available from:

Riege, A.M., and Perry, C. (2000) “National marketing strategies in international travel and tourism”. European Journal of Marketing, 34 (11/12): 1290-1304.

Tourism Australia. (2011) Official website. Available from: /

Tourism Australia. (2011) “Visitor Arrivals”. Tourism Australia Corporate Website. Available from:

Tourism Australia. (n.d.) Facebook page. Available from:

Tourism Malaysia. (2011) Official website. Available from: /

Wang, Y., Yu, Q., and Fesenmaier, D.R. (2002) “Defining the virtual tourist community: implications for tourism marketing’. Tourism Management, 23: 407-417.