DAVID SPEERS: Look, it's terrific. I'm an unashamed fan of all things Crocodile Dundee, let me bring in the Tourism Minister Steve Ciobo, thanks for joining us this afternoon.

STEVEN CIOBO: Good to be with you.

DAVID SPEERS: Look, the question I guess a lot of people have, where did the idea come from, was this Tourism Australia itself, who put up this idea?

STEVEN CIOBO: Yeah, it was Tourism Australia's idea and you know, the difficulty with North America, David, is it's such a media-saturated market. There's so much advertising. The hardest thing is to get cut-through to use the phrase they always use to shift the needle. In a market-

DAVID SPEERS: Yeah, especially in the Super Bowl, right?

STEVEN CIOBO: Correct.

DAVID SPEERS: 'Cause all the best ads, for who aren't aware, go right into the Super Bowl.

STEVEN CIOBO: Exactly, and so when Tourism Australia first approached me with the idea, of course my first question was, "Is the Tourism Australia board behind it? Is industry behind it? Are the states and territories behind it?" And they came back and said, "Yes, the board's behind it. Yes, stakeholders are behind it. Yes, we've got program partners." And then of course, the linchpin of all this, was getting such fantastic Aussie talent.

DAVID SPEERS: Well, I want to ask you about that. Did they all, 'cause it's a wonderful lineup of the best of the best.

STEVEN CIOBO: Absolutely, yeah.

DAVID SPEERS: Did they all agree without a hesitation, or did they have to take some convincing for some of them? How did that go?

STEVEN CIOBO: David, these fine men and women of Australia, you know, they're the stars of the screen, they all stepped up, and they all have done their bit for their country.

DAVID SPEERS: Did they do it for free?

STEVEN CIOBO: They didn't do it for free, but they basically, in Hollywood terms, they basically did it for free.

DAVID SPEERS: Right, right. It might have been some flights and accommodations.

STEVEN CIOBO: Yeah, they did it for what they call the SAG minimum, for Screen Actors' Guild minimum.

DAVID SPEERS: Right.

STEVEN CIOBO: You know, but these are stars who, as you know, command millions and millions of dollars. And they did it for nothing even close to that.

DAVID SPEERS: Is it like a union thing, that they have to get paid the minimum?

STEVEN CIOBO: Correct. Precisely.

DAVID SPEERS: They can't do it for free. Okay.

STEVEN CIOBO: Yeah, precisely.

DAVID SPEERS: I get that. Look, some will no doubt cringe at this nostalgic image of Australia, that we're all sitting in the pub drinking beer and wandering around the outback, and that's not really Australia. For the record, as I say, I love it. But how much research, what sort of work goes into thinking that this is going to be the concept, because we've stuck with this concept for some decades now, haven't we? But is it one that just works, is that the bottom line?

STEVEN CIOBO: Look, it does. And as I say, the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. And I mean, if you just look at traction that this had had over the last week or two, before today's big reveal at the Super Bowl, I mean, we're talking about, just the trailers that have gone out, the fact that we've had Chris Hemsworth, Margot Robbie, Russell Crowe, Jessica Mauboy. These guys using their social media platforms, we had over 400 million engagements on social media alone, 400 million, David.

DAVID SPEERS: I think Donald Trump, Jr., tweeted today, too.

STEVEN CIOBO: He did. He did, yeah.

DAVID SPEERS: I'm not sure if we got that there, but anyway he's-

STEVEN CIOBO: I mean, and 80% of that engagement has been in the North American market, which is where we're targeting this. In terms of media mentions, we're at nearly 4,000, which in terms of estimated advertising cost, that's in excess of $30 million. So, on any measure, the fact is this has been a tremendous success already, and this is only the very beginning. This campaign's going to go for another year or two, and it's going to get great traction, we've got wonderful program partners. And I think it really will help to shift the needle.

DAVID SPEERS: It prompted me to have a dig into the Tourism Australia stats today. And look, they're pretty impressive for 2017, I got to say. The US, we have seen growth from the US market, haven't we? I'm just trying to find the number. Here, it's 10% growth, there's an increase in what they're spending. It's all still dwarfed by China, though. That is still our biggest market by far.

STEVEN CIOBO: Absolutely. So, we get 1.3 million Chinese tourists a year. They spend around $10 billion. From North America, we get around 750,000 tourists, and they spend around $3.7 billion. But what we see is huge potential in both markets, but we do see huge yield potential, which means more spending power out of North America. So, this campaign is part of a deliberate drive to shift the needle, as I said. We want to try to get to $6 billion of expenditure from North Americans by the year 2020.

DAVID SPEERS:So, at the moment, we're at $3.7 billion from the US and about what, $700 million from Canada. So, you want to lift that to-

STEVEN CIOBO: We want to lift that, try to achieve $6 billion by 2020.

DAVID SPEERS: And does that mean targeting, because a lot of the American tourism comes from what, four or five different cities mainly? Is this about trying to target a broader range of Americans to come here?

STEVEN CIOBO: The genesis of this campaign, David, is to get cut-through, to get people talking about it. And as I said, the proof of the pudding's in the tasting. I mean, if you actually look at this ad, this had been the most talked about TV commercial in the Super Bowl. I mean, bigger than Doritos, or Pepsi, or Budweiser beer or, you know, those sort of ads. Bear in mind, a hundred, more than a hundred million Americans watch the Super Bowl, the actual online viewership of Super Bowl commercials is more than a billion people. I mean-

DAVID SPEERS: That's around the world, that's the thing, it's not just the US.

STEVEN CIOBO: That is around the world, but importantly, in North America as I said, more than 100 million watch the game. And this is the ad they've been talking about.

DAVID SPEERS: What did it cost?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, this is part of a $36 million package that we're spending over the next two years, a campaign to drive tourism. So, you know, and I don’t look at it as one ad, I look at it as a whole campaign-

DAVID SPEERS: But what did the one ad cost?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, I look at it as a whole campaign over two years.

DAVID SPEERS: Aww, come on.

STEVEN CIOBO: $36 million over two years, David, and let me tell you-

DAVID SPEERS: Big chunk of that was making this ad?

STEVEN CIOBO: David, let me tell you why this is important. Tourism in this country is a $41 billion export industry. It employs directly 600,000 Australians. Now, we need to be able to keep driving this, and if we drive this, this will drive economic growth, and it will drive jobs, and that's what we're in Government to do.

DAVID SPEERS: You would have seen today a lot of talk about, "Let's make another Croc Dundee movie," I'm sure. All of those wonderful actors wouldn't be charging the union minimum rate, if they were doing a feature film-

STEVEN CIOBO: I suspect if it was a feature film, it might be more.

DAVID SPEERS: -that was making a lot of money, they'd want their slice of it. But there'd presumably be some taxpayer help along the way if someone went down that path.

STEVEN CIOBO: You know David, I'm a market guy, so it won't surprise you to know, if a studio wants to do it, they should go for it.

DAVID SPEERS: They should knock on Tourism Australia's door as well?

STEVEN CIOBO: If there was a credible commercial pitch to do this, then absolutely we could have a look at that. I'm sure Screen Australia does that, that's what they do all day long, every day. And we've had some terrific Australian-made films. But it's got to be driven by the studios, not by government.

DAVID SPEERS: All right. Steve Ciobo, Tourism Minister, thank you very much for joining us this afternoon.

STEVEN CIOBO: You're welcome.

Media enquiries

  • Trade Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7420
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555