The Northern Territory’s official slogan could be changed to “We Are The Territory” after taxpayer-funded research found the current “Boundless Possible” tagline has left locals uninspired, confused and, in some cases, furious.
“The Territory — Boundless Possible” slogan was launched in 2018 to entice new residents to the NT
Focus group results obtained by the ABC show it has failed to resonate with Territorians
A new tagline has been recommended but the NT government has kept it under wraps
But despite spending more than $130,000 on the rebranding efforts, the government has kept a recommended new catchphrase secret for more than a year.
The marketing makeover only emerged after the ABC obtained internal government documents detailing the results of brand testing with focus groups and influencers last year.
The Boundless Possible slogan has been the subject of much ridicule since it was first unveiled in 2018 as part of a broader $1.5 million brand “narrative” designed to entice new residents to the region at a time when the population was declining.
The government had hoped that Territorians would act as “ambassadors” of the campaign, but instead many simply mocked the grammatically flawed catchphrase.
The cash-strapped government’s decision to subsequently spend $400,000 on a one-minute Boundless Possible television commercial during the AFL grand final in 2018 also attracted significant criticism.
“The only thing that this government showed the rest of the country is that their ability to manage the books is boundlessly incompetent,” NT Opposition Leader Lia Finocchario said at the time.
FOI documents reveal $138,000 rebranding exercise
The newly-obtained internal documents — released as part of a Freedom of Information request — reveal the government asked advertising agencies to develop a refreshed brand identity in late 2020.
In its creative brief, the government said that although the marketing campaign had proven successful interstate, it had failed to resonate with local audiences.
“While the spirit and intent of the brand remains, the ‘Boundless Possible’ tagline is now often used with negative connotations within the Territory,” the brief stated.
Locals have “struggled” with the incorrect grammar and “incorrect assumptions” have been made about the logo’s similarity with Dubai’s former tourism brandit said.
The brief stipulated that the prefix of “The Territory” should remain in any refreshed branding, but it said the Boundless Possible slogan could either be “re-presented, updated and/or replaced”.
It also said any changes should be strategically distanced from the polarizing “CU in the NT” slogan, which was developed by a private company and was not sanctioned by the government.
Boundless Possible campaign ‘far from reality’
Five companies tendered for the makeover, with a selection panel giving the $138,000 contract to an agency called KWP, who partnered with market research firm McGregor Tan.
Participants in their focus groups said the Boundless Possible campaign, including its longer narrative about living in the Territory, presented the NT “in an idealized way, far from reality”.
Another said: “It’s a lovely sales pitch, but it’s not believable anymore.”
Others said the campaign was “too wanky” and was pitched at a privileged demographic.
Someone said Boundless Possible was “the most stupid name ever developed”.
Focus groups assess slogan options
In its report to the government, KWP concluded that Boundless Possible does not resonate with Territorians.
“They consider it to be appropriate for external markets, but meaningless to them,” the report said.
It noted that the focus groups had called for a marketing campaign with a humble tone that reflected the community spirit of the NT, without shying away from its social, economic, and climatic challenges.
“Using something that better reflects the true essence of being Territorian was recommended,” it said.
More than a dozen alternative taglines were tested in February last year.
The focus groups eventually selected another slogan — “We Are The Territory” — as their favourite.
“Overall, the tagline was perceived as a powerful and inclusive tagline that can be used to bring all Territorians together, although some felt indifferent or slightly skeptical about it,” the report said.
Another slogan — “No Place Like It” — was ranked second, but some felt it could easily be co-opted in a negative way.
“As an example, ‘Twenty-five break-ins in Alice Springs last night – No Place Like It’,” one participant said.
Updated tagline delayed due to pandemic
In response to questions from the ABC, the NT government said the recommended new slogan had not yet been made public because of disruptions caused by the pandemic.
“The priority of the Northern Territory government during this period has been public health messaging and keeping Territorians informed about the COVID-19 pandemic,” a spokesperson said.
“Releasing a new tagline for the intra-state component of the Territory masterbrand was paused whilst we considered changes in community sentiment through the transition to a ‘living with COVID’ phase of the pandemic.”
The spokesperson said the Boundless Possible tagline remained a “core component” of the overall masterbrand and was still used in interstate and international markets with “strong results”.
For NT audiences, “an intra-state tagline or taglines are under consideration as we pivot to our new normal”, they said.
“The work with KWP, in particular the market research undertaken, is valuable and continues to inform ongoing and future marketing and communication strategies and campaigns,” they said.
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