26 JUN 2018: With all due respect to the inestimable Paul Hogan, the mid to late 1980s advertising series featuring the Crocodile Dundee star urging North Americans to throw another shrimp on the barbie was, by my reckoning, only Tourism Australia’s second-best marketing campaign.

The first? The ad poster I once had a pee-k at above a urinal in a London (UK) public washroom suggesting that the user “Don’t look left, don’t look right, look Down Under!”

Alas, it is the former that has been revived three decades later with a now officially awarding-winning campaign dubbed “Dundee: The Son of a Legend Returns Home.”

Released virally and as a 60-second trailer for what was at first believed to be a new Crocodile Dundee movie during the Super Bowl in February, the spot features Aussie heartthrob Chris Hemsworth and American comedian Danny McBride and includes a brief cameo of Hogan himself. The overall campaign is also supported by a host of Aussie A-listers, including Hugh Jackman, Margot Robbie, Russell Crowe, Ruby Rose, Liam Hemsworth, Isla Fisher, Luke Bracey and Jessica Mauboy, though they don’t appear in the commercial.

Recently, the ad won eight awards, including a “coveted” Titanium Lion, at the 2018 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, which is purported to celebrate “unique, boundary-pushing ideas in the branded communications space.”

Tourism Australia's Managing Director John O'Sullivan said the campaign reflects a deliberate move towards more impactful marketing programs designed to help drive conversion. “The US represents a huge tourism opportunity for Australia. The challenge we've always had with this market is that whilst awareness of Australia is high, this falls away significantly when it comes to translating this into bookings. That meant being bold and being prepared to take a few calculated risks, which I think we did by turning to Crocodile Dundee and the Super Bowl,” he said.

Tourism Australia CMO, Lisa Ronson, says the campaign is “already delivering unprecedented leads for our industry partners.” Indeed, Amobee, a firm that tracks digital mentions, reported a 681% boost for the tourist board online in late January.
Even Donald Trump made a rare foray onto Twitter to state, in his inimitable way of both praising and bashing in the same breath, “Kenny Powers as Crocodile Dundee would be the best thing to come out of Hollywood in decades.” Powers is McBride’s TV character on Eastbound & Down.

The original Tourism Australia “Come and say G’Day” campaign, in which Hogan actually uttered the phrase, “I'll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie for you," capitalized on the success of the Crocodile Dundee films, originally released in 1986 and as a sequel two years later, which were an integral part of a boom in Australian culture (also from that time you might remember Men at Work, Midnight Oil, Mad Max and those Energizer battery commercials with crazed Aussie rules football star Mark “Jacko” Jackson?)

The result was massive, prompting 25 percent growth in arrivals each year for the first four years and laying the groundwork for modern Australian tourism marketing.

John Brown, tourism minister at the time, told Fairfax Media, which publishes the Sydney Morning Herald, "We basically didn't have an image before Hogan's campaign. We were seen as a zoo, you know, interesting marsupials and no people."

With such a high bar, it must be said that Tourism Australia marketing in the years since has never reached the same levels and suffered a particularly memorable flop with the cheeky 2006 “Where the bloody hell are you?” campaign, which merely managed to confuse or offend a large segment of its global audience.

And despite its awards for creativity, the current Dundee campaign has similarly left a bad taste for some, largely from its bait-and-switch premise in which viewers believed they were seeing an actual movie trailer until, midway through the commercial, they realize, along with McBride himself, “This isn’t a movie. It’s a tourism ad for Australia, isn’t it?” To which Hemsworth replies, “But listen, you’re the best Crocodile Dundee since Crocodile Dundee.”

Beyond its dismissal as a hoax by some disappointed Dundee fans, the commercial is nearly perfect in tourism terms. McBride is funny, Hemsworth hunky, and Australia visually magnificent, from its beaches to wildlife, restaurants and wine. (Hemsworth, it should be noted, narrates other fabulous Tourism Australia ads that can be found on YouTube and elsewhere on line)

But what the commercial really shows is that there are many, many people craving another Crocodile Dundee movie – at least one expanding on the Son of… premise and starring Hemsworth and McBride. Personally, Margo Robbie would get my vote for the female lead. And to echo Mick Dundee himself (“that’s not a knife, THAT’S a knife”) – now that would be a marketing campaign!


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Michael Baginski

Editor at Large, Mike Baginski is well known and well respected within the industry across Canada, the US, in the Caribbean, Mexico and numerous other destinations outside North America.

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