Some Crocodile Dundee buffs may have been teeming with anticipation over the past few weeks as teasers for a reboot of the franchise movie made the rounds on social media.

But, perhaps to many fans’ dismay, a Tourism Australia NFL Super Bowl commercial that aired on Sunday informed the world that all the hype was actually for its ad for Australia, and there will be no upcoming movie. The commercial and accompanying campaign is aimed at getting more Americans to visit the land down under.

Australia’s national tourism board has confirmed the commercial and trailers are part of its $27 million Dundee U.S. marketing campaign – its largest U.S. campaign since Paul Hogan’s “Come and Say G’Day” effort in 1984. This 2018 marketing blitz is Tourism  Australia’s largest ever for a single overseas market.

Super Bowl advertising can be a risky business. Brands may spend millions of dollars to reach tens of millions of people they hope will be customers, and the payoff often isn’t worth the money and effort.

Turkish Airlines, for example, ran its third consecutive Super Bowl commercial this year but said it’s unsure how many bookings it can attribute to these ads as the metrics can be complicated.

The U.S. is Australia’s third largest overseas market and second largest for visitor spending as Americans spent $3.7 billion in the country in 2017. But for years Tourism Australia has had challenges getting more U.S. travelers to board a plane and visit the country, and it views the Super Bowl as one of its best shots to break through.

The 60-second commercial aired during the game’s second quarter before Justin Timberlake’s half-time show, and featured Tourism Australia’s global ambassador, Australian actor Chris Hemsworth, and American actor and comedian Danny McBride.

The commercial, “Dundee: The Son of a Legend Returns Home,” initially reads like a movie trailer. It portrays McBride as Mick Dundee’s long-lost American son, who travels to Australia to explore the country and find his father, while getting some help from Hemsworth. In the last 15 seconds of the ad, Hemsworth reveals that McBride is in a tourism ad for Australia and that “there are a lot of good flight deals to Australia right now.” Hemsworth calls on travelers to visit Australia.com, Tourism Australia’s consumer website, to book travel and learn more.

Qantas and American Airlines launched sales from the U.S. to Australia on Sunday as the ad aired, said John O’Sullivan, Tourism Australia’s managing director, with Qantas offering flights for less than $1000 roundtrip from the U.S. to Australia.

Return of Crocodile Dundee

The new Dundee campaign and the Super Bowl commercial is part of Tourism Australia’s larger, two-year content deal with NBC, the 2018 Super Bowl U.S. broadcast network. The campaign will include more Tourism Australia ads on the network, O’Sullivan said.

NBC’s “Late Night With Seth Myers” will also be going to Australia in late February after the Winter Olympics to highlight the country, as part of the deal, for example.

The average Super Bowl ad cost $5 million this year for a 30-second spot, about the same as the 2017 game but up more than 85 percent since the 2008 contest. The Tourism Australia ad ran for a minute. More than 110 million people were expected to watch the game, and O’Sullivan said Tourism Australia set up a “social media war room” in Sydney to respond to travelers’ reactions and questions in real time.

Two other travel brands, Turkish Airlines and Universal Parks & Resorts, also aired ads during the game, hoping to convince a swath of U.S. travelers to book trips.

Chris Hemsworth has been Australia’s global tourism ambassador since January 2016 and is still performing well for the destination, said O’Sullivan, who added that the tourism boards plans to keep working with Hemsworth for the foreseeable future.

“Crocodile Dundee and Hoges did an outstanding job 30-odd years ago of captivating American audiences and putting Australia onto their travel wish lists,” said Hemsworth, in a statement. “I’d like to think the inspiration the film has provided for this new Tourism Australia campaign will ultimately translate into similar success,” he said.

Besides Hemsworth, fellow Australian actors such as Hugh Jackman, Margot
Robbie, Russell Crowe, Ruby Rose, Liam Hemsworth, Isla Fisher, Luke Bracey, and Jessica Mauboy also had cameos in the Super Bowl commercial.

The digital component of the campaign went live on Australia.com as the commercial aired on Sunday and features a suite of videos with some of the actors talking about why they love Australia. The campaign will run through June.

The World’s Largest Audience

O’Sullivan and Lisa Ronson, Tourism Australia’s chief marketing officer, said the Super Bowl is the perfect platform to grab the attention of U.S. travelers.

Ronson said the commercial was expected to reach 48 percent of people that Tourism Australia believes have demonstrated an interest in visiting Australia. That engagement includes interacting with the destination’s social media or searching for flights or hotels.

Some 48.2 percent of this year’s Super Bowl audience was projected to be female while 51.7 percent was expected to be male, according to a report from Hitwise. The company projected that there would be a 15 percent year-over-year increase in 18 to 24-year-old viewers and a 5 percent increase in viewers ages 55 to 64, but predicted declines in viewers ages 25 to 64.

Those are interesting statistics given many shows and networks consider the 25- to 64-year-old demographic to be their bread and butter. Tourism Australia said it isn’t going after a specific age group.

Tourism Australia’s Most Wanted: U.S. Travelers

In Tourism Australia’s fiscal year ending September 30, 2017, more than 700,000 U.S. travelers visited the country, a 10 percent increase year over year.

In comparison, some 152,000 Canadian visitors visited during the same period and spent $740 million in Australia. The Candian Dollar is nearly equal to the Australian dollar, and the U.S-Australia exchange rate is still favorable for Americans.

O’Sullivan said that he’d like the year-over-year increase in U.S. arrivals to be at about 15 percent each year by 2020, the year Tourism Australia hopes to make Australia the most desirable overseas destination for U.S. travelers. O’Sullivan also said the goal is primarily focused on growing U.S. visitor spending with more arrivals.

The Dundee campaign and the lofty 2020 goal was the main topic at the Australian Tourism Summit in Pasadena, California last week. “A favorable exchange rate and highly competitive airfares make this the perfect time for Americans to visit Australia – as well as the perfect time for us to capitalize on the American opportunity,” said Steven Ciobo, Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism, and Investment, during the Summit.

Ciobo said the U.S. market is a key component of Australia’s transition to a services-based economy. “The latest tourism numbers that track the industry’s performance show that the tourism industry continues to grow faster than the national economy and has done so for the past three years,” he said. “And the importance of tourism will only increase as we start to move away from being heavily reliant on the resources sector and more focused on service exports.”

Ciobo said the U.S. market is projected to be worth between $4.5 and $5.5 billion to Australia by 2020, but could be worth as much as $6 billion if the destination continues to heavily invest in marketing campaigns like Dundee.

More airlift and direct flights from the U.S. is also making it easier to visit Australia in recent years. “The Turnbull Government believes in putting its money where its mouth is and that is why we have provided record funding for Tourism Australia,” said Ciobo. “I am pleased to say that there are also 20,000 potential new hotel rooms in the investment pipeline currently.”

Ciobo cited Tourism Australia’s social media channels as an excellent example of a cost-effective marketing tool. The destination’s Instagram and Facebook accounts, for instance, are some of the most followed accounts for a travel brand.

But it’s interesting that in an age of targeted social media advertising and cord-cutting, Tourism Australia is betting on the nostalgic power of Super Bowl commercials and TV advertising to make the most effective connections with high-spending travelers.

Other brands like the Priceline Group have also recently upped their TV spending, but the Super Bowl is a completely different ball game and while some commercials resonate long after they air, many don’t have much staying power.

Photo Credit: Chris Hemsworth (left) and Danny McBride appeared in a Super Bowl commercial for Tourism Australia, and will be featured in the country's largest marketing campaign for the U.S. Pictured is a teaser for the fake Dundee film that was rumored to be in the works in recent weeks. Tourism Australia