- It was a bloody fantastic idea.
- It couldn’t be real.
The latter point made the former sting that much worse. The idea of Danny McBride and Chris Hemsworth bounding around the outback — hanging with roos and hunting for Ol’ Mick seems like incredible fun. Just the sort of buddy comedy romp audiences could get behind.
Alas, it had to be a fake. These sorts of reboots usually come with lots of build up — script announcements, tweets from set, magazine covers, and media junkets. Dundee, on the other hand, just seemed to drop from the sky without a major studio or U.S. distributor. It was clearly some sort of gimmick… but what, exactly?
I was right, as it turns out, but calling this shot doesn’t make me particularly clever. Tourism Australia is pretty well known for being innovative. Remember back when Modern Family sent the whole gang Down Under for a vacation (“Crocodile Dun-phy”)? Australia Tourism pulled the strings behind that, too. They’ll gladly spend money to make money and seem to keenly understand that all roads to tourism success in the US market run through pop culture. It’s where we go for our highest office, why wouldn’t it shape our vacation planning?
Meanwhile, the US tourist is the right target for the land down under. Australia is loaded to the gills with all the infrastructure, iconic scenery, and English-speaking that Americans love. Or, as Australia’s Minister for Tourism, Steven Ciobo, puts it: “Focusing on the US, the world’s largest economy and third most populous country, just makes sense.” It’s as simple as that: Lots of people with lots of money means huge economic sway — a fact our own government is blatantly ignoring at the moment.
But how did the decision to focus on the US market turn into a fake movie trailer? The NYC-based ad firm Droga5 came up with the concept and Tourism Australia was quick to hop on board. They brought on actors and things blossomed from there. Mick Dundee is still very much an icon– deeply emblematic of Austraila’s rugged, brazen, always smirking, punching-first-and-swilling-beer-later persona.
“Crocodile Dundee put Australia on the map for Americans in the ’80s,” Tourism Australia Managing Director John O’Sullivan said.
He’s right. The 80s-era fascination with Australia was centered on the “Top End” — the vast expanses of the upper half of Australia’s Northern Territory. This is the land filled with crocs and roos and only a very few hearty souls. It’s where you’ll find Kakadu National Park, a rich Aboriginal history, and dusty pubs perfect for cussin’, drinkin’, and fightin’.
Times have changed and the American understanding of Australia has broadened at least a little. The full movie trailer/ ad widens the lens to encompass Melbourne’s dining scene, the Hunter Valley wine region, the Great Barrier Reef, and the endless beaches of… literally every state in Australia has stunning beaches. Drog5’s idea to make a fake movie trailer about a fish out of water wandering the land gave the tourism board a good chance to show off those very same assets.
Slick move, ad bros.