TOM ELLIOTT: All right, so it sort of starts off as a new version of Crocodile Dundee, and then the American bloke who's allegedly the son of Mick Dundee, realises he's in a tourism ad for Australia. To me, the fact that we have to go back to 1986 and reuse one of the more hackneyed bits of Australian movie making, I think, is a pity. Joining us on the line, though, now, the Federal Minister for Tourism, Steve Ciobo, good afternoon.

STEVEN CIOBO: Good afternoon, Tom.

TOM ELLIOTT: Did you approve this ad?

STEVEN CIOBO: I certainly did, and when Tourism Australian came to me with the concept, I asked a couple of preliminary questions, of course, which is, does the board of Tourism Australia support it? Does industry support it? Do the states and territories support it, and will we have program partners? They were able to tick all of those boxes. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting, as they say, Tom, and this has generated tremendous cut through in the North American market.

TOM ELLIOTT: Really?

STEVEN CIOBO: Oh, yeah. We've had, in the last week or two, since the teasers went out, and now the advertisement's gone to air, we've had more than 400 million social media engagement around it. And bear in mind that 80% of that has been in the North American market.

TOM ELLIOTT: Okay, I know that's what we want to do, we want to get Americans to come and visit here, but is reinventing or reusing the Crocodile Dundee thing, is that really going to work?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, mate, neither you nor I are the experts when it comes to this marketing, I'm afraid to say. Whereas the team at Tourism Australia, they've been doing this for quite a while. They research all of this, they do focus groups, they understand the market, and as I said, with more than 400 million engagements already, more than 20 program partners that have come on-board. In terms of the actual viewership around Super Bowl, more than 100 million Americans watch it, and if you look at the actual discussion around this advertisement, all the news clips, the fact that CBS News is talking about it, this is the most talked about advertisement from the Super Bowl. Bigger than Budweiser, bigger than Doritos chips, bigger than Pepsi. You are talking about a potential viewing audience on these programs of more than 3 billion people.

TOM ELLIOTT: What do they say?

STEVEN CIOBO: So, great cut through.

TOM ELLIOTT: Okay. All right, all right. I grant the people are talking about in America, what are they saying though? I mean, I know there are probably millions of things that have been said, but what has been the general reaction to the ad?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, the general reaction has been incredibly positive, and I can't thank enough the fact that we've had some outstanding Aussie talent, like Chris and Liam Hemsworth, like Margot Robbie, Jessica Mauboy, even Hoges himself, who have all stepped up to the plate. They've been involved in this campaign. They've been driving it through their social media, they're doing radio and TV interviews around it, as well. They're doing it for an absolute minimum fee, which is what's called the Screen Actor's Guild minimum, which is a requirement that they charge that absolute minimum. The fact is, Australian taxpayers have saved millions. And on that point, Tom, I might just correct something you said in terms of the introduction, when you said TA, that is Tourism Australia, spent $36 million making this ad, that's actually not correct. It's $36 million campaign over two years, where we've got program partners like Qantas, you know, hotel chains, car hire chains, they're all coming into this, they're also contributing, and this will make a difference in terms of the cut-through that we're getting in that market.

TOM ELLIOTT: Do you reckon we'll ever get away from the Crocodile Dundee theme? I only say this, because I remember 15, 20 years ago, I went to the States, and you meet people, and I'd say to them, "What do you think of Australia?" And they go, "Oh, Mick Dundee, one."

STEVEN CIOBO: Yep.

TOM ELLIOTT: Two was Steve Irwin. So, the entire country is reduced to blokes who wrestle crocodiles for a living. Are we ever going to get away from that?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, look, I think it's a fine balance. I mean, take for example what this advert does. I notice you played an excerpt before. What we're trying to do is draw the link between the kinds of perceptions and icons they know about Australia, but also, what we are able to do now. So, that advert that you played before, some of the audio of, part of that focus is upon redirecting people to say, "Did you know Australia is producing some of the best wines in the world and some of the best restaurants in the world?" Bear in mind, we're not aiming this at every single tourist in North America, but we're after the premium tourists. The ones who are big spenders when they come here, because they're the ones that help to drive our export of tourism, and that in turn, means more jobs for Australians.

TOM ELLIOTT: Can I just ask you one more question, why were there no images of Melbourne or Victoria, as far as I could tell? Why was it all Sydney, and not the north of the country?

STEVEN CIOBO: So, earlier today, I was chatting to ABC Gold Coast, and they asked me how come there are no images of the Gold Coast in it, and this is the thing. We don't fall into the trap of trying to tick every box by showing every single town and region across Australia.

TOM ELLIOTT: Yeah, but Melbourne's a pretty big part of Australia.

STEVEN CIOBO: Of course, it is. It's more than a big part, I mean, it's a critical part of our tourism offering, but what it's about is producing something that was credible, something that would fly in terms of the whole pretext of this, which was the Dundee film. So, what's featured heavily is the footage et cetera, around building the story on the old Crocodile Dundee film originally, and now updating it with the new cast and new actors, and that's why, because it was credible, it got traction.

TOM ELLIOTT: All right. We'll leave it there.

Media enquiries

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