The National ANZAC visitor centre

November the 11th 2018

represents 100 years since the end of World War One

Albany in Western Australia, 450 kms south-east of the Perth was the point of muster and departure for the convoys transporting the tens of thousands of Australian and New Zealand service men and women. Albany was chosen as it had a natural defendable harbour. Albany did not forget the men and women of these convoys and conducted the first Anzac Dawn Service; a tradition which is now one of the most sacred Australian ceremonies. So it is fitting that the City of Albany have established a respectful, authentic, and moving tribute to the service men and women.

Over the years, I have visited the Albany region many times [twice in 2018. And there is more to Albany than the National Anzac Centre; to me the stretch of coast east and west of Albany is one of the most magnificent coastlines in the world. It is, perhaps, some comfort to know that for many service men and women the last memories of home were of a place of such beauty and the distinctive Australian sights, sounds, and smells.

You may be asking –

what has the National ANZAC Centre go to do with marketing?

The ‘textbook’ view of marketing is that consumers approach pleasant experiences and avoid unpleasant experiences. However, for marketing academics there is no one right answer – there are always exceptions. Exceptions do not disprove a theory, instead they strengthen a theory and highlight that sometimes other factors need to be considered. Exhibitions, like the National Anzac Centre are confronting – it is not approach in the textbook sense. Places where your own beliefs are challenged, where your knowledge of history requires an audit to separate facts from an assortment of collected myths.

Sites such as the National ANZAC Centre are [sometimes] described by marketing academics as thanatourism – visiting places of grief. Thanatourism sites receive less attention than they deserve, as most people have little awareness of the concept. However, many will be familiar with thanatourism sites such as – ANZAC Cove in Turkey, Pearl Harbor Memorial, the beaches and cemeteries of Normandy, the Abbey at Monte Casino, Anne Frank’s house, the battlefied of the Somme, Aushwitz-Birkenau, the battlefield of Culloden.

Therefore, from a marketing perspective consumers may be attracted to unpleasant experiences, if it helps them to make sense of the world around them. This also highlights that products are not restricted to physical goods. Sure, there is a shop at the ANZAC centre, and other sites I have visited, however, the determinant product components are the ideas, experiences, people, place, and services which are produced by organisations and consumed by the [most often paying] visitors.

For thousands of years society has influenced marketing and marketing has influenced society; therefore, marketing principles and practices can be used to meet the challenges facing society, to inform and educate, to move society from one way of thinking to another. Thanatourism sites are often of national historical importance and should be like all marketing the truth well told.

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