Australia's Tourism Ministry intends to spend the equivalent of A$290 million ($135m; €83.02m; £57.19m) over the next thirty months asking US viewers: "So Where the Bloody Hell Are You?"

This genteel invitation to visit the fair and urbane land Down Under is the tagline of commercials due to air this week on major US TV networks.

Given that Oz-inhabitants are not noted for their decorous euphemisms, it is difficult to understand why the latest Visit Australia campaign has created such controversy when aired both at home and in near-neighbour New Zealand. According to Australasian critics, the tagline is a profane turnoff.

'Not so,' protest the tagline's proponents, arguing that they are targeting educated, adventurous tourists who understand that the line is a play on the widely held view of Australians as friendly and unpretentious.

Tourism Australia, the national agency responsible for the promotion, says it has tested the provocative tagline on 47,000 people in seven countries (and three kangaroos), reports that the response has been overwhelmingly positive (except for the kangaroos).

And even Australian prime minister John Howard declares that the slogan is very effective and "anything but offensive."

The tagline was created by the Sydney office of UK ad agency M&C Saatchi.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff