Two weeks before the Super Bowl, trailers began surfacing online for a reboot of the 1986 Australian movie Crocodile Dundee. In the supposed sequel, Dundee: The Son of a Legend Returns Home, Dundee is missing and his American son, played by Danny McBride, goes Down Under to find him with the help a local expert, portrayed by Chris Hemsworth. Ostensible behind-the-scenes photos of the production emerged online, posted to Twitter, as did an official-looking website—which went as far as to include the name of company, Rimfire Films, that produced the original Dundee movie. And the stacked cast, which also included Aussies Hugh Jackman, Margot Robbie, Russell Crowe, Isla Fisher, and Liam Hemsworth, touted the film on social media.
It turns out it was all an elaborate ruse by Australia’s national tourism body, Tourism Australia, to encourage Americans to visit the country. The group aired a commercial during Super Bowl 52 today (Feb. 4) that started out like the other fake trailers—until midway through, actor Chris Hemsworth, who is Australia’s global tourism ambassador, revealed that the whole thing was a shameless showcase for Australia’s beaches, wines, and restaurants.
The Super Bowl spot was part of a broader $27 million marketing campaign, created by ad agency Droga5, to target US tourists. It’s the group’s most expensive marketing effort since original Crocodile Dundee actor, Paul Hogan, starred in a pitch for the government agency in 1984, Tourism Australia said.
“Crocodile Dundee put Australia on the map for Americans in the 1980s,” said John O’Sullivan, Tourism Australia’s managing director, in a statement issued by the agency. “The film helped shape their view of Australia, showing them Australia’s natural beauty and Australians’ friendly and welcoming nature. And it’s still relevant today, with our research showing that Mick ‘Crocodile’ Dundee is still a character Americans believe warmly represents the Australian way of life.”
By 12pm eastern time on game day, Tourism Australia had built more online buzz than most other brands that pre-released or teased their commercials online ahead of the Super Bowl. ISpot.tv found that the fake trailers captured nearly 11% of pre-game social media buzz—including online views, and engagement on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Google search—around Super Bowl commercials. It racked up 43.4 million video views and 578k social engagements, the firm found. That followed only two other brands: Amazon’s Alexa, and a joint advertising campaign for Doritos and Mountain Dew.