Faaez Samadi
Jun 11, 2018

Get creative right, then rest will follow: Tourism Australia CMO

Lisa Ronson said the spectacular success of the tourism body’s ‘Dundee’ Super Bowl campaign was fundamentally down to having a great idea.

Leigh Terry & Lisa Ronson speaking on the Convergence stage at Innovfest Unbound 2018 in Singapore.
Leigh Terry & Lisa Ronson speaking on the Convergence stage at Innovfest Unbound 2018 in Singapore.

For all the importance of data, research, planning, channel strategy and the numerous other factors that make up an advertising campaign, the fundamental tenet is having a great idea, said Lisa Ronson, Tourism Australia CMO.

Speaking at Innovfest Unbound to Leigh Terry, APAC CEO of IPG Mediabrands, who worked with TA on the media side for the campaign, Ronson said deciding to target the Super Bowl was a huge step to take, but one they were comfortable with because all stakeholders had bought into the ‘Dundee’ creative, produced by Droga5.

“We obviously looked at all the data and insights around how Australians are perceived overseas, so we knew it would resonate,” she said. “But the creative idea was the key to everything.”

The campaign tricked the world into thinking a Crocodile Dundee reboot was coming, featuring Danny McBride and Chris Hemsworth. Following a teaser campaign starting in January, the Super Bowl ad revealed it was all a hoax and instead an advert for TA showcasing Australia as a tourism destination.

Ronson said the campaign worked because it was such a departure, particularly in the tourism sector—it was the most viewed and shared advert of the Super Bowl, outstripping local stalwarts such as Pepsi and Budweiser.

“There’s a sea of sameness in the tourism category—‘I’ve got a beach, mine’s better’,” she explained. “The data told us Americans are travelling more overseas, and the dollar is strong, so economic factors were in our favour for doing it this year.

“Where marketers often get it wrong is thinking innovation is all about technology. Technology is an important part of it, but you need the creativity and other parts as well.”

The campaign cost A$36 million, TA’s biggest single spend on an ad campaign. Ronson said getting people on board was initially challenging because the tourism authority is a government body.

“We focus on ROI, but we never want to be seen as wasting taxpayer money,” she said. “Once we show that, it makes it a lot easier to sell the story to ministers and the like. If the idea is right, based on data and insights, and if you can tell the story the whole way through, it will work.”

A telling factor, Ronson said, was regarding the the litany of Australian Hollywood stars involved in the campaign—Chris and Liam Hemsworth, Margot Robbie, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Paul Hogan.

“The two linchpins were Paul Hogan, who owns all the rights to Crocodile Dundee, and Chris Hemsworth,” she said. “They bought in straightaway. Then on the strength of the idea, all the other celebrities did it for nothing, they wanted it to succeed.”

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