In Advertising: Barossa. Be Consumed.

In 2013, a TV Commercial advertising the Barossa Valley in South Australia had people a bit baffled. Let’s take a look at it:


The Barossa Valley is renowned for its beauty, and its wine. The track featured in the ad, Red Right Hand, comes famously from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and is now one of Cave’s signature tracks.

The song, on the surface, is about a murderer. About going to a place from which you will never come back.

Well, this is what people think about South Australia to start with: murder. Think Snowtown as just one popular culture reference. In fact, when I moved to SA years ago, everybody back home asked me why, and whether or not I valued my life.

Um, what a statement.

Let’s take the song further, though.

This is what Wikipedia tells us:

The liner notes for Murder Ballads points out that the phrase “red right hand” is from a line in John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost that refers to the vengeful hand of God. The opening song on the album, “Song of Joy”, states of a murderer: “It seems he has done many, many more, /​quotes John Milton on the walls in the victim’s blood. /​The police are investigating at tremendous cost. /​In my house he wrote ‘his red right hand’. /​That, I’m told, is from Paradise Lost.”

The aforementioned appearance in Paradise Lost (Book II, 170 – 174) is: “What if the breath that kindled those grim fires, /​Awaked, should blow them into sevenfold rage, /​And plunge us in the flames; or from above /​Should intermitted vengeance arm again /​His red right hand to plague us?”.

The term itself appears to be Milton’s translation of the term “rubente dexetra” in Horace’s Ode i.2,2

Although the title of the song derives from a reference to God, the figure who is the subject of the song itself is heavily implied to be Satan

If you cast your mind back to the Kapunda Killer — and realise that Kapunda isn’t far from the Barossa Valley, you can construct this meaning in the most ghastly way possible. Investigations by police into the Kapunda killing really were at tremendous cost. You can read the amazing story about that by clicking here.

Taking a step backwards, the line red right hand is purportedly from Milton’s Paradise Lost. You could determine that the Barossa Valley is a lost paradise, one that people forget about, filled with gorgeous things and people, and places from which you wish you’d never have to leave.

But ‘never have to leave’ being permanent? This is still the impression we’re getting from this advertisement.

Milton’s Paradise Lost is essentially this story:

Milton’s story has two narrative arcs: one is of Satan (Lucifer) and the other is of Adam and Eve. It begins after Satan and the other rebel angels have been defeated and banished to Hell, or, as it is also called in the poem, Tartarus. In Pandæmonium, Satan employs his rhetorical skill to organise his followers; he is aided by Mammon and BeelzebubBelial and Moloch are also present. At the end of the debate, Satan volunteers to poison the newly-​created Earth and God’s new and most favoured creation, Mankind. He braves the dangers of the Abyss alone in a manner reminiscent of Odysseus orAeneas. After an arduous traverse of the Chaos outside Hell, he enters God’s new material World, and later the Garden of Eden.

Think about this advertisement

The advert itself is titled Be Consumed. In it, you have scenes of country life. There is a girl, a pure girl, dressed in white and naturally made up, walking through the back of a property. She kills a chook, plucks it, and serves it for dinner. Clearly people go spotlighting and kill bunnies. There’s dessert, and fresh fruit, and wine. The barbed wire, blades, axes, cellars, flames, dirt, and more fire.… prior to the appearance of a tall, unidentified man in front of an apparently innocent girl who has been out all night, in the raid and the mud and the fire, don’t particularly paint a comforting view of the Barossa.

Of course, the intention was to demonstrate the naturalness of this lost paradise. That people are back to basics. That the food is good, and of the earth. That the people still kill their own animals, make their own wine, enjoy meals together. That the big wide open spaces are there to be enjoyed. That you can run around in bare feet in the mud and you won’t get hurt. That you brave the dangers of the world to enter this hidden world, the Garden of Eden.

It’s just unfortunate that the imagery and the soundtrack really overshadow the message.

This advert went viral. Why?

I’m actually not particularly upset about it. I think it’s brilliantI know that the Barossa is an odd place. I’ve heard stories from friends who used to live there. I know all about the weird fetishes and strange things. I also know about all the amazing things: the incredible nuts, the brilliant wines, and the gorgeousness of the place.

And I adore the fact that someone, whoever they are, created this advertisement that has gone viral because of the total stir that it has created. I first heard about it on Twitter by the ever-​ranting, gorgeous Helen Razer going on about ads and South Australian killers. I have friends all over other social networks sharing the TVC and making horrified comments about it.

Every single action is doing one thing: Sharing the advertisement. Making more people aware of it. Sharing the imagery of the Barossa Valley, and making this place known to the broader world.

That is a big win, right?

Your message can have a huge impact

Sometimes when you think about the copy written for your advertising, it’s not about getting it right. It’s about getting a reaction.

The message in this advertisement is truly that the Barossa is an amazing paradise, one that’s been hidden away, lost from sight, filled with things that we’ve forgotten. Perhaps even the occasional bloody events in the Barossa’s history are as much a part of it as its food and beauty.

It’s true.

This advertisement does more than advertise the Barossa. It’s filled with a real sense of place. Its messaging is on-​point and even (maybe weirdly?) on brand. It’s been well considered, deeply understood, and is part of a greater strategy to drive interest.

What has advertising to do with content strategy?

Advertising is one of the tactics you can use as part of your content strategy. Marketing is not content strategy, but messaging and output channels absolutely are. The strategy you have for your business includes marketing, it includes advertising. The strategy is the overarching piece that ties them together. The way you communicate (ads like this are acts of communication) will be most effective when it has been created as a willful part of your strategy.

Are you at this stage of creation in your strategy yet? Take our quiz and get a recommendation about where to start. One thing’s for sure: If you do singular pieces that go bang, but don’t move you forwards, your strategy needs work.

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