Telstra set to connect London 2012 to the voices of Australia in new 'Down Under' spot via DDB Sydney featuring Men At Work's Colin Hay

Ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Telstra and DDB Group Sydney have recruited the voices of Australia to re-create the nation's unofficial sporting anthem, Down Under.

Led by Men At Work front man and principal songwriter, Colin Hay, an A Cappella version of the track will debut during the TV broadcast of the Opening Ceremony of the Games.

Along with Colin Hay and Dorian West, a new version of Down Under has been created in a mass show of support for our Olympic athletes who are lining up for London 2012. As part of the TVC, Telstra encourages Australians to send a Telstra HeroMessage of support to their favourite athletes and teams.

TELSTRA.jpgThe campaign builds excitement with 15 second edits due to air from Monday 23 July followed by the full 60-second spot which launches on Saturday 28 July during the Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Telstra Chief Marketing Officer, Mark Buckman, said the Voices of Australia campaign showcased the strong support from Australians at home and in London for the Australian Olympic Team: "The campaign has been designed to ignite patriotism among Australians and encourage them to support our athletes in London by sending a Telstra HeroMessage.

"A Telstra HeroMessage is a powerful and emotional way to connect with our Olympic athletes and I encourage all Australians to harness the Olympic spirit and spur on our athletes and teams to greatness in London," says Buckman.

Says DDB Executive Creative Director, Dylan Harrison: "What better way to create the ultimate message of support for our athletes and kick-start the London 2012 HeroMessage service than to re-record one of the most identifiable tracks in Australian music history.

"Down Under has always been synonymous with our strong sense of sporting patriotism and the sentiment we feel toward our sporting heroes," says Harrison.

"It strikes a real chord with Australians no matter where they are in the world and we had an overwhelming response from Aussies everywhere wanting to belt out the tune."

Adds Colin Hay: "Down Under is ultimately a song about celebration, and in the case of the 2012 Olympics, a mass calling of sorts to inspire our Olympians so they know they are not alone.

"For my part, to travel around Australia and to London singing "Down Under" and leading the chorus was a great honour. Hopefully our athletes will feel connected by the voices of many."

A Telstra HeroMessage can be sent two ways: via SMS to 0428 MYHERO (694 376) or online at

Company: Telstra
Chief Marketing Officer: Mark Buckman
Director Corporate Marketing: Inese Kingsmill
Brand Marketing Manager: Kieran O'Donnell
Production Company: Rogue Films (London) / Chief Entertainment (Australia)
Director: Tubby Brothers (London) / Stuart McFadyen
Creative Agency: DDB
ECD: Dylan Harrison
Creative Director: Rupert Hancock
Managing Partner: Brent Annells
Media Agency: OMD
TV Trading Manager: Simon Lee


AK said:

Yeah... Voices of Australia 30 years ago... Wicked.

Oh said:

Oh dear.

If in doubt, do a song.

If in serious doubt, make it an Aussie anthem.

Lawyer said:

No doubt they've plucked out Greg Ham's problematic flute line to get around that little legal problem.

fran said:

wicked cant wait to hear it !!

Hilarious said:

Here we go again with 'Down Under' as an anthem for the Olympics. "Where the beer does flow, and the men chunder".

Now there's something to celebrate for our sporting heroes and all Australians really in the true Olympic Spirit, our national alcoholism.

A thirty-year-old, and very dated anthem, trotted out far too many times in 2000 and one that was written by Hay not to celebrate the country, but to criticise the exploitation of our native land by speculation, overdevelopment and greed with his "men plunder" line.

Now for the royalties, the sad old rocker is selling out his one moneymaker again for the likes of Telstra, the very kind of organisation and men he was taking to task those many years ago.

Do you reckon the marketing people have even read the lyrics, or know what they mean? A "head full of zombie" . . . not your average corporate sell, unless you're Green.

The naked man. said:

How ironic that this weekends Good Weekend's piece on Greg Ham's death concluded that the court trials about his flute line contributed to his death.

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree said:

5:57 is right. Reminds me of the blissfully ignorant misappropriation of 'Born in the USA' by the idiot Bush as his election campaign theme.

fran said:

wondeful idea colin hay and go the aussies!!

Ross said:


Do you think that some songs outlive their original meaning? Sometimes taking on different meanings - even ones diametrically opposed to the original? Joplin's Mercedes Benz song has been used numerous times by car advertisers. Surely they can't all have misunderstood the song's intended meaning.

Perhaps since Down Under started blaring out from Australia II, it's taken on a different meaning.


Hilarious said:


Yes, songs can and have over time taken on different meanings, but there's not much of a comparison with Joplin's 'Mercedes Benz' as those lyrics weren't critiquing the car, just the those who pray to the Lord for their material wants, and that Merc was the gold standard, which is why it was ripe for the picking with the advertisers.

In the case of 'Down Under', the character of many Australians, those who drink until they puke (yobbos abounding), or the wealthy who ruthlessly exploit the land and everyone else for their own gain (read the Murdochs, Packers, Tinkers, Rineharts of this country) were the focus of Hay's lyrics, so not exactly what you'd expect to become a national anthem, unless you just disregard the lyrics and take on the 'singability' of the chorus.

I mean what country, other than Australia takes on a pop song, and one from the 80s no less as their sporting anthem? Sweden singing Abba as their skiers win gold? Britain playing Gary Glitter when those rare few go to the podium? And the US with Springsteen's 'Born in the USA'? Never, because that one is a protest song as well, one against the values of America being undermined by the powerful, and unlike Hay, the Boss would never let them use it for the jingoism of national sporting events.

Mel B said:

You know I never knew (or cared frankly) what the lyrics to Down Under meant. I've just always loved the fun of the song. It's a great sing along and a song that Aussies all over the world enjoy belting out. I don't work for Telstra or DDB or anyone involved in this campaign but I imagine that's what Telstra et al were going for in choosing this song.
As for the actual ad, I will wait until I see it to pass judgement on it... Maybe the rest of you creative geniuses should try doing the same.

Not So Funny said:

@Mel B

Not knowing and not caring, sounds like a very intelligent point of view.

Maybe you could try that with a few of the feel good anthems from Germany in the 30s. I hear they were very popular with a crowd.

Ignorance is indeed bliss in the land down and under, drink, throw up, and plunder to your heart's content, and all in the name of some cheerful marketing for the local telcom marketers.

Mel B said:

@Not So Funny

But you are so Funny! You just compared my indifference about a song's original meaning with Nazi Germany? Ha brilliant. Creative genius that.

Also your cynicism about advertising is funny too since you are reading and commenting on an advertising blog. Regretting your career choices eh?

I just looked up the meaning of Down Under, (because I am so ignorant) according to Colin Hay it was a song about "the loss of spirit in Australia". It seems to me then, that there's a beautiful irony in the fact that the song has been embraced and treasured as a unifying singalong harnessing aussie pride and spirit.

Also the fact that it was a major part of the Sydney Olympics including the Men At Work performance at the closing ceremony, also makes it kind of fitting.

An Idiot said:

Mel B, quit while you're behind.

Not So Funny said:

@Mel B

You Spice Girls always have such insightful comments to make here on the blog.

Girl Power lives, and by the way, how is Scary doing these days? She's always been my favourite.

We're not cynical about advertising, just the shit, lazy, unimaginative, jingoistic, trot out your anthem varieties employed once again by Telstra. "So you come from the land down under" . . . really, you don't say. That and a few dancing kangaroos in glitter drag will help to differentiate the Aussies from the rest of the Olympians and their supporters.

Another opportunity missed and the likes of Mel would hardly know it, 'cause it's such a great singalong. Gee Whiz, Murray!

Mel B said:

Mel B is Scary Spice.

You might not like it but I'd put money on the aussie public liking it.Try going further than Newtown to see the real Australia. They like these sorts of ads. Sure it probably won't win industry awards but it will do its job. Maybe if you made a few more, you'd have more work to do and less time to be negative on blogs.

Not So Funny said:

Sorry, Scary, uh Mel. I confused you with Old Spice. Given your attitude toward the tired, done, and redone, it's understandable.

We should probably take your advice and head for the middle, understanding that it's allot more lucrative to sell the great unwashed what they're already accustomed to. How aspirational, and what a tremendous challenge.

By the way, we have plenty of work to do, trying hard to create something unique and original, maybe even inspirational, while you mainstream types are all out at those three hour lunches congratulating yourselves on the the triumphs of your latest rehashed tripe.

Mel B said:

@Not So Funny

It's ok I don't work in advertising. I'm a professional stirrer. ta da!

Not So Funny said:

@Mel B

From the look of it, professional is more than a bit of a stretch, as it's hard to imagine who'd pay for your unique contributions.

Just one last tip, when you're done stirring, try not to lick the straw. You'll just get it all over your face, like you did this time.

Joe said:

The lack of creativity that comes out of DDB Sydney (aside from VW ... which is a brand mantra) is striking.

The Boss said:

Born in the USA was Ronald Regan. I love this. Sure the meaning of the song is lost here, but who could argue that it has transcended the original meaning over the last 30 years? Hopefully it helps Colin Hay pay some of his legal costs.

It's Just A Song said:

@The Boss

"Transcended", now there's a good word. Another is perverted, corrupted yet another, completely transformed and undermined, now there's more than one, but . . .

The process of how a protest song, one very critical of the destruction of a culture, and longing for its lost values is transformed by popular use, repetitious use by radio airplay of the day I'm guessing, and yes of course advertising, into a corporate anthem, without anyone ever bothering to change the lyrics, just counting on the mob to ignore them and focus on the easy-to-singalong chorus.

Naturally it took the complicity of the songwriter, who needed in his doddering years to ride his one hit as far as the publishing rights could take him.

A metaphor for the decline of Western civilisation if there ever were one.

Producer person said:

I think it's really good. Pity the agency didn't think an Australian director was up for the job. Not so patriotic on that front.

Humanbean said:

It's great.

Tru blu 2 said:

Come on guys and old Ex 90s girl band member, stop yelling! Rather than going back and forth with your witty banter why don't we play a game;

Name three songs that Telstra could have used instead of down under. Ah ah and you cant say Waltzin Matilda, I still call Australia home, or advance Australia fair

While you're thinking about this I'd like to draw your attention to what qantas has just done, they changed their iconic song for something more ,,,what's the word....shyte. No more creepy kids singing in the pyramids just random people looking up like they just seen a ghost. And the song! Dont get me started. . I personally think that Daniel johns should send his paycheck back. all he did was a whole bunch of "oohs and aaahhs" harmonising. Qantas is by far the most visible Australian brand internationally and they have taken the iconic nature and the grandure of their ads away.

On the other hand you can be creative with an established catchy tune and dont be an entire hack. These guys were able to combine engaging music successfully as part of their idea - in my opinion. It's got to be the opera house ones from the monkeys. It's got it all from breathtaking art direction and photography great music.

Is this Telstra ad the worse Olympic themed ad out there? - No its not. And as a newly inducted Australian,( I only became a citizen 4 years ago after living here for 12) regardless of its original meaning the truth is that ' land down under' is the most recognisable Australian Anthem - period. I remember Hulk hogan s theme song was 'born in the USA' and I'm struggling to believe that anyone sat there and wondered about the deep and meaningful political meaning of his song as he was ready to belt down Andre the Giant.

Major Rant feel free to skip ----I'm only going on about this cuz I'm sick of the real australia vs hipsters argument. The truth is that we really need to stop being so up ourselves think that our little 30"" pieces of genius really matter to anyone. You wanna be an artist but you are a designer- you wanna write books and screenplays - but you are a copywriter. You wanna show the world your vision as a filmmaker - but you're directing infomercials. It's ok, it doesn't mean that it won't happen or that you're. Of awesome but do it through your own stuff not with some client's budget. At our job we have to solve the problem and make sure it works for everyone even the lowest common denominator. Think about the Internet , it would be so much more advanced if it wasnt for the Internet explorer browsers which none of the cool new things like HTML5 or css3 can't be read. Trouble is you can't ignore them - same as those poor people that don't know what a soy chai latte is. (irony warning)

So let's not bag each other people ! Is just that no matter what , as creatives how good my ad is it will never be anything compared to say- saving a life for example. However a bad ad is a bad ad anywhere and we owe it to ourselves to rock up to work everyday and try our best to be original fresh and innovative - in this case I felt like I've seen this ad before so many times and that's why I'm my opinion it's no good. Is it gonna work-? As in people will like it- yeah they already like the song so yes. Is it gonna win any awards- no it won't as awards prize originality and creativity or even craft in which this execution is lacking on all counts.

charmed said:

i like it, i felt it, and it works.

ohmy said:

shhhhh.... settle down kiddies. Nothing more cringeworthy than seeing two ineloquent writers slogging it out on the blog. I saw it for the first time during the Opening Ceremony, and I thought it wasn't too bad. Most people don't know it's a protest song and it has taken on a different meaning over the years - which is something nobody can control. For what it is, a 'big ad' from a big corporate for a big event, I think it's pretty charming.

take a leaf from this gumtree said:

qantas are you watching? could have should have been you

Andrew P said:

love it.

love the song and love the ad.
well done

Down Under said:

Its very Australian and it's fun. Just enjoy it for what it is.

Ryan B. said:

When you look at the comments for the same ads on CB which, I believe, is mainly a creative blog vs. Mumbrella which, I believe, is mainly a client/media/suit blog you really see a drastic difference between views.

For the same ad, on Mumbrella (take this one) you typically get vastly more positive feedback and chat about how the public will like it. On CB you get chat about how the campaign was "done before" in some obscure (or non-obscure) country that no Australian consumer would know or care about...or that it's just shit.

Both sites are anonymous.

What does that tell us? Might it say that one side is more concerned about the consumer than their personal "reel"? Is one side just creatively "out of it" and the other the only real authority on what's great creative?

Maybe I've got the audiences between CB and Mumbrella wrong, but it's an interesting analysis and comment on the industry...

It Could Be Worse said:


Actually there's "nothing more cringeworthy" than your self-appointment as the judge of ineloquent writing.

"Wasn't too bad," "most people don't know,"nobody can control," "for what it is," "it's pretty charming." High praise indeed, considering how low you set the bar, and what a charming apologist you make for 'big corporate' and 'big event'.

If you were less 'eloquent', you might have said, "for complete shit, it doesn't stink as much as we would expect from Telstra," and with that, you'd be correct.

The Aussie corporate limbo . . . how low can you go?

Don't worry, that's rhetorical.

Ryan said:

I absolutely love it. I don't care that it's an old song song. I don't care that it's not a fresh creative idea. I love it, and every single one of my friends - who do not work in advertising - love it.

Makes them feel good about Australia, and feel good about Telstra.

Job done.

The Boss said:

Just a Song - it would be a stretch to argue that a composition has been 'perverted, corrupted... completely transformed and undermined' when the composer of the song has played an active role in its re-interpretation... He wrote it, he has the right to re invent his work however he sees fit. Political content aside, is this any different than the Opera House TVC that used 'the ship song' which is well known as an overly pretentious, tongue in cheek account of lovemaking? On another note, Colin Hay has been a celebrated & succesful performer for over 4 decades, but I suppose you've been too caught up in protecting the purity of his original works to enjoy his later offerings.

Someone write a new bloody song said:

I think when you look at this, and the recent Qantas monstrosity (ie. Silverchair's Daniel Johns hitting a synth key in the same place over and over), all that is proven is there is a absence of good contemporary songs about what makes us proud to be Australian in a lyrical sense. We have talented people in this country who can sing and work an instrument for god's sake - let's get some new material.

At the moment as a creative, it's darn frustrating to see this. Everyone is out there trawling the back catalogue and blowing the dust off old things each time the olympics or the comm games pop up which is a real shame - particularly when they've been overdone like this ditty.

I hope someone in the music or sound industry is reading this and starts contemplating what they're going to do about it. It's long overdue for someone to sit down, think about who we are as australians and write a strong track that embraces us all as a people and where we're at in a positive way.

If you're out there - start bloody writing - and I mean now.

Dr. Feel Good said:


When every single one of your friends feels good about Telstra, it's time to get some new friends.

The Chief said:

Someone write a new bloody song said - feel free to check out The Drones or Augie March anytime you wish...

Jarvis said:

If you have to watch the Olympics whilst having ads belched at you ever other minute, then this is far sweeter than the average stench.

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