14th Mar 2004 The advertisement for RM Williams boots looked innocuous enough. But was there a hidden message? View large

Dear Sir,

I am writing about your advertisement, in a QANTAS magazine I think, that shows five boots and has the caption:

Visitors to Australia please note: Dress code applies.

Well, I must confess a certain disquiet when I first saw the ad. It is hard to pin down but it was one of those feeling that you get at the movies when the wind is blowing, a shutter bangs against a window, a mangy sort of cat loiters somewhere dark, birds (crows, always crows) are flying in silhouette against the sky and sharp, discordant music pumps up your anxiety levels. Clearly something sinister is afoot.

Then I realised that all the boots in the picture were right feet so if anything was sinister, it was being so elsewhere. I relaxed a bit after that but I was still intrigued as to what was the meaning of right foot boots for a visitor to Australia.

Could it be a political stance? Are they being told that this is a right wing (or in this case, leg) society and that we wont stand for anything else? That our leaders like nothing better than sinking the boot in? The whereabouts of the other boot is left to your imagination.

Or is the image in your ad just a gentle reminder that our most enduring national image is of the kangaroo and that any visitor is also expected to hop?



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