When your media budget is small, there’s a greater risk in shunning innovation and creativity than in doing something big and bold, according to the man behind Tourism Australia’s award-winning Son of Crocodile Dundee campaign.

And if using a character from a 30-year old movie seemed like a big risk to start with, that was actually one of the smaller ones the campaign had to contend with.

Quite apart from Crocodile Dundee personifying the warmth and openness of Australians, “when we looked at the data, people really remembered him all these years later,” Jonny Bauer, chief strategy officer at Droga5 New York, told Behind the Winning Idea, WARC’s daily show on Cannes Lions TV.

“People still say ‘that’s not a knife’, people still talk about ‘a shrimp on the barbie’, people still say these things. We thought it could be a great canvas to inject a lot of new meaning behind, with how modern and progressive Australia is as a country today.”

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Alongside that, the agency hypothesised that more people would want to get engaged with a campaign for a movie than one for tourism.

That meant following the category codes; so, teasers, trailers, websites, casts, IMDBs, wiki-pages “all driven by PR to create and galvanise a lot of energy around the potential for this new movie”.

As a campaign with a small media spend, “we knew it had to be something that created cultural relevance in order to amplify the spend that we had, and that if it wasn’t editorialised, if it wasn’t discussed, we simply wouldn’t get the reach with the media budget that we had,” said Bauer.

The second phase was the reveal at the Super Bowl – where the bulk of the media budget went – and the transition of the entire media ecosystem that had been created in order to reflect that, followed by smart retargeting of people who’d become involved with the campaign. (Read the case study in full here.)

The whole enterprise was a mammoth task that required a high degree of commitment from all involved, but “the power of a great idea” held them together.

“So much of tourism work looks exactly like other tourism work,” Bauer pointed out. “A lot of countries have beautiful beaches, great food, interesting wildlife, but what’s the way into that world that can truly differentiate you and you can completely own.”

Sourced from Cannes Lions TV; additional content by WARC staff