BEN DAVIS: The Minister for Trade, Tourism, and Investment, and he joins me on the line. Steven Ciobo, good afternoon.

STEVEN CIOBO: Good afternoon, Ben.

BEN DAVIS: Are you at the Super Bowl?

STEVEN CIOBO: I could not be in a more different position. I'm actually in my office at Parliament House in Canberra. You know, for some people, it's the Super Bowl of Australian politics, but-

BEN DAVIS: Mate, you obviously don't know how to pull a rort. I mean, every other politician knows how to pull travel rort, you could have got, you would have been front and centre, if you wanted to.

STEVEN CIOBO: No, mate. I've got, you know, I'd rather be talking about it, and the benefits of this latest marketing campaign with blokes like you, and other Aussies.

BEN DAVIS: Alright. And, is it going to work? Is it going to bring, I think it's brilliant stunt, don't get me wrong, I mean, the way that it was drawn out, and there was drip, drip, drip, and people thought there was actually going to be sequel to Crocodile Dundee. I thought all of that was amazing, don't get me wrong. I think the ad itself is amazing, I'm just wondering, is it going to equal bums on seats on those planes coming to Australia?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, Ben, if we look at the early results, and, as they say, the proof of the pudding's in the tasting. Let's have a look at what we've been able to achieve in the last week or two, in the lead-up to this, plus the actual release of the advertisement itself. We've had more than 400 million social media engagements already. And, that is, 80% of that, is in North America, which is, of course, our target audience. We’ve had nearly 4,000 news items around this advertisement, and the campaign, and that, of itself is a potential viewing audience of more than 3 billion people. So, I mean, these are extraordinary numbers. And, if you look at the actual advertising value of it, that is, already, more than $30 million. So, on every level, this has been a tremendous success so far, but you're right. What's gonna matter is how many more tourists we get over the next 12, or 24, months, and that's why this underpins the campaign for the next two years, we're putting $36 million into this. And, the reason we're doing it, Ben, is because tourism, in terms of international tourists, is a $41 billion export industry that employs 600,000 Australians directly, and I want to make sure we keep it growing.

BEN DAVIS: It's the age-old challenge, isn't it? Getting Americans to come to Australia. They love us, they love watching us on the TV, they love the movies and everything else, but it's a long way to travel to Australia. And, we have had some pretty sharp campaigns in the past that I think have been quite good, but they just haven't managed to tick that box of getting people to book the ticket, and to come here. Distance is the big challenge, isn't it?

STEVEN CIOBO: Look, always. And, also, getting Americans to understand that, when they come to Australia, they don't have to do every part of Australia. They don't need to go to Cairns, to the Gold Coast, to Sydney, to Melbourne, to Perth. You know, it's actually getting them to realize, they can come for, four, five, six, seven days, and then go back, and then do more on the next trip. I mean, not a lot of Aussies would view it in reverse, where they try to go, you know, from San Francisco, to LA, to Miami, to New York, in one trip. So, we need to break down that perception. But, ultimately, the hardest thing in the North American market is to shift the needle. And, what I mean by that is, it's such a media-dominated market, that getting that traction, getting that cut-through, is critical. And, that's why this campaign has just been so clever. And I cannot, you know, as Australia's Tourism Minister, I cannot thank enough the fact that we got Chris and Liam Hemsworth, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Margot Robbie, Jessica Mauboy, Hoges himself, you know, all the, [inaudible], these guys stepped up to the plate, in a massive way, to do the right thing by their country, and as a consequence, we've got great traction in North America.

BEN DAVIS: Did those big stars charge for their appearances?

STEVEN CIOBO: They charged the absolute minimum that they're legally allowed to charge, under the Screen Actors Guild. So, in other words, mate, what they did, was save Australian taxpayers millions and millions of dollars. Aussies know that Margot Robbie, these days, she could command millions of dollars for an advertisement. But, they did it because they love their country, they're passionate about their country, they want to work with Tourism Australia, and they have been wonderful.

BEN DAVIS: Well, the challenge is to get as many eyeballs as possible on your ad, and you've certainly done that in a big way, so well done. I don't know who came up with the idea, but well done to them. You could always claim credit.

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, it's the team at Tourism Australia. They're the ones that have been at the forefront of this, and, they really have done an outstanding job with this, as I said. The traction has been really strong. Now, what we need to do it make sure it doesn't just end with a whimper now, and that's it. What we do is, we back it in, now, for the next 12, 18 months, 24 months, and that's why it's so good that we've got such strong industry support. Qantas is on board, a number of other key tourism operators are all on board. We've got states and territories stepping up to the plate, now. So, it bodes really well, to helping to drive more American tourists, which means more economic growth, and more jobs.

BEN DAVIS: Full credit to Tourism Australia. We'll talk again, Steven Ciobo. Thank for your time.

STEVEN CIOBO: Thanks, mate.

Media enquiries

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