Bringing back an icon: The strategy behind Tourism Australia’s Crocodile Dundee campaign

Resurrecting a three-decade-old icon was Tourism Australia's solution to North Americans' reluctance to travel Down Under. Mumbrella's Paul Wallbank explains how the organisation tapped into Hollywood's enthusiasm for remakes and used programmatic to reinvent Australia's brand.

“In 2018, it was time for an iconic Australian to come home,” says Geoff Ikin, general manager, global media, PR and social, Tourism Australia.

“One of the best-performing ads we’ve done was ‘Shrimp on the barbie’. 34 years ago. Nothing has cut through more than that,” he says.

“When we started to look at it, the best known Australian was Crocodile Dundee. He still resonates the highest among the American audience.”

The challenge for the Australian tourism industry is that while Australia ranks as one of the destinations Americans most want to visit, few actually make the journey. So the campaign to attract high-value US tourists using the unique nature of Australia and the experiences it has on offer was born.

Ikin was speaking at yesterday’s Programmatic Summit in Sydney where he described the strategy and technology behind planning the Crocodile Dundee campaign’s Super Bowl launch which has seen a total of 126,000 leads generated from Australia.com in the three weeks after the event.

“In tourism it’s hard to cut through. Everyone is enamoured with the beautiful pictures of the coral beaches, the turtle shots everybody loves, but that doesn’t differentiate us.

“We have our core pillars of food and wine, adventure and wildlife, but for us to cut through we had to look at things a little bit differently.

“Hollywood is obsessed by reboots at the moment. When we chatted to Paramount studios in the lead up to this, they told us the movies they have on their slate is 90% remakes.”

The campaign initially masqueraded as a trailer for a legitimate Crocodile Dundee sequel – in which US actor Danny McBride played Crocodile Dundee’s (Paul Hogan) son. The trailer was released on social media and featured cameos from Chris and Liam Hemsworth, Isla Fisher, Margot Robbie, Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman.

It wasn’t long before social media, commentators, ad land and consumers began suspecting the ad was in fact a tourism campaign, particularly with the impending Super Bowl.

The campaign, which Ikin claims has achieved a conversion rate five to six times higher than previous efforts, was partly driven by programmatic services as the organisation aimed to improve the attraction of the nation to high-value American tourists.

In targeting the US high-value customer Tourism Australia tapped into its first, second and third-party data to validate and optimise the customers, and the Super Bowl fitted the bill with its audience of 103m viewers, including 43% of the target market.

Ikin’s principles for the programmatic nature of the campaign was to own the ecosystem, set up smart data exchanges and have a detailed infrastructure setup.

“We do want to make sure from our brand metrics that we are number one. We want to be number one for desireablitiy, consideration and the intention and, finally conversion. We want to grow the pie by a billion dollars by 2020.”


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