When a trailer for a new Crocodile Dundee movie, titled Dundee, dropped roughly two weeks before Super Bowl LII, the internet was in shock. A reboot of the iconic Crocodile Dundee franchise … starring Danny McBride? Really? It couldn’t be.
And it wasn’t really, but it did stump people and get them talking for two whole weeks before all questions were finally answered. Dundee was a movie trailer used to disguise an elaborate $36 million Tourism Australia Super Bowl campaign designed to convince American travelers that Australia should be their next vacation destination.
The goal was not just to show people all that Australia had to offer, but truly boost intent to book a trip with a campaign ad cloaked as a movie. That meant creating all the usual movie staples—trailers, social media accounts, an IMDb page and more—to truly convince the world Dundee was a real film.
“We knew that brands that simply reuse assets at Super Bowl fail, and we needed to create work that would achieve massive cut-through,” Lisa Ronson, CMO, Tourism Australia, said. “The 1986 film Crocodile Dundee helped shape the American view of Australia and resulted in a massive spike in travel to Australia,” so it only made sense that Tourism Australia fall back on that strategy again, but with a major twist. A Super Bowl ad disguised as a movie production starring Chris Hemsworth, Danny McBride and even Paul Hogan.
With U.S. travel to Australia on the decline, the country’s tourism group needed to convince Americans that beyond great beaches, food, wine and adventure—something you could find with a shorter flight time in, say, Europe—Australia is worth the 14-plus hour trek. “Everyone has Australia somewhere on their travel bucket list, so the problem wasn’t actually visiting interest, it was moving people from passive consideration into active consideration,” Amy Avery, chief intelligence officer at Droga5, said.
Tourism Australia wanted its Dundee trailer to do two things. One was to make Australia the No. 1 “desired, considered and intended destination to visit,” explained Ronson. The second was to increase the U.S. market by 50 percent, from a projected $4 billion in 2018 to $6 billion by 2020.
Sixteen days before the Big Game, Tourism Australia and Droga5 dropped the first trailer for the fake Dundee movie, after securing a celebrity-filled cast and creating all the proper social accounts and IMDb pages for the faux film. On Super Bowl Sunday, the trailer ran during the Big Game and revealed itself as a Tourism Australia ad, directing people to Australia.com. In the coming days and weeks, the Droga5 team worked closely with Tourism Australia to “follow up with site visitors in digital messaging to be able to retarget them based on key interests they have, whether that’s food and wine or beaches,” and then offering deals on flights and hotels, Avery explained.
1. Work with a flexible concept for the Big Game
On an advertising day as big as the Super Bowl, Droga5 creative director Jim Curtis found having a flexible concept to work with was a huge benefit. If Russell Crowe or Margot Robbie called up at the last minute and wanted to sign on to the project, the team could easily make that happen, and it made the story better. “If I were going to do another big campaign like that again, I would be thinking, what happens if we lose stars or gain stars at the last second? Can I still do it?” Curtis explained.
2. Play the long game
The Super Bowl is a huge draw for many brands, big and small, because it guarantees that millions of viewers will see your company’s ad campaign. That (and a few tweets on social media) should not encompass your brand’s entire Big Game strategy. “If you just focus all your effort on that one day, it’s wasteful,” Avery said. A big part of Droga5’s strategy came in building buzz for the campaign disguised as a movie before the game, and connecting with consumers after the game to drive a roughly 30 percent increase in bookings.
3. Work closely with all partners involved
As soon as the first movie trailer dropped for Dundee two weeks prior to the Super Bowl, up until a few days after the Super Bowl ad drop, Droga5 had a war room set up for all those involved in the campaign—the creatives, client and media agency. “We had a framework for who owned what and how we would communicate, but it was such open data sharing to be able to go back and forth with clients that were really engaged and took part in the project that made it do as well as it did,” Avery said.