With his ‘illustrious’ movie career on hold and the ATO crawling up his pants, Australian actor Paul Hogan has still had time to criticise Tourism Australia‘s latest $50m ad campaign, saying the country should be promoted as it was when he was involved – focussing on the ‘friendly residents’.

We remember Hogan’s famous ‘shrimp on the barbie’ ads in the 1980s (in some cases, barely remember them), but the Lightning Jack actor reckons the new ads should focus on Australias friendly and laid-back people.

“I’m not crazy about it. If I go to your house for a visit and I want to come back, it’s because I enjoyed your company, not your furniture,” explains Hogan.

The ads were created by film director Baz Luhrmann, thought to be a precursor for his film Australia, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, to be released worldwide in December.

Marketing expert at the Australian School of Business, Roger March, has also criticised the ads, asserting that the portrayal of urban couples without children was a ‘high-risk strategy’ because it would not resonate with other potential visitors.

“The target market is now very narrow – stressed-out urban couples without children. Can we expect singles, families, seniors and other segments to relate and respond positively to these ads? And what of people who do not live in cities?” says March.

But Nick Baker, Tourism Australia’s marketing director, says he lacked the budget to make ads to target every type of traveller and the ads aimed at an emotional connection that would be recognised by all.

The campaign will run in 22 major markets around the world from now until mid-2009, with Tourism Australia investing around $40m in the campaign and around $10m on promotional opportunities around the movie when it is released later this year.