On Jan. 19 the internet went bonkers when a trailer dropped for a new "Crocodile Dundee" movie starring Danny McBride and Chris Hemsworth. But with no forewarning that a remake of the Australian 1986 comedy was in the works, excitement soon turned to skepticism.
Within the week of the release of the first trailer, several outlets had rightly assumed that it was all the marketing stunt crafted by Tourism Australia for the Super Bowl.
At Tourism Australia and Droga5, the agency behind the campaign, there was an early expectation that the "secret" wouldn't necessarily stay a secret. That's hard to do when your chief marketing officer takes a meeting in a busy Australian café with Chris Hemsworth.
Still, there was no plans for either to admit to the trailers. And the two went ahead releasing three additional teasers in the weeks leading up to the game. They tapped a big roster of high-profile Australians to be part of the rouse, including Hugh Jackman who took to Twitter to announce his involvement, and Russell Crow.
Other celebrity appearances included Margot Robbie, Isla Fisher and Ruby Rose.
Quickly fans of the original movie starring Paul Hogan began petitioning for a real remake to be made.
Ultimately, and expectantly, all of the hoopla was for a Tourism Australia Super Bowl commercial—the first for the organization as it spends the next year focusing its outreach in the U.S.
While Americans have a high affinity for Australia, when it comes down to actual visitation in falls down to No. 25, says Lisa Ronson, chief marketing officer at Tourism Australia. European countries make up the lion share of visitors to the down under.
And what better way to reach Americans than with the movie that helped put Australia on the map in the states.
"Crocodile Dundee is still so endearing as a character and what we are trying to do is take that character and bring Americans into a modern-day Australia," Ronson says. "Australia can be an abstract destination for Americans, so we are trying to break it down and demystify it."
To pull off a stunt of this magnitude required a whole lot of planning, and of course, a whole lot of secrecy.
Droga5 Creative Director Kevin Weir and Associate Creative Director Jim Curtis couldn't even let their own families know why they were traveling to Australia.
"We couldn't post on social media when we were in Australia for a month," Weir says. "And when the teaser went out we couldn't take credit for it. So it will be fun on the day of the Super Bowl to finally tell people what we were up to."
For Curtis, who is from Australia, it was especially difficult to go home for a month and keep it under wraps.
To create the feel of an actual movie trailer, they shot four or five full scenes and then edited down those scenes into the Super Bowl commercials and used some of the scenes as teasers. "We started with a lot of footage and cut it down from there so it would feel like a proper trailer," Curtis says.
Of course they also studied a whole lot of movie trailers and how big films promote themselves.
It helped that they also got to work with Russell Boyd, who served as cinematographer on the original movie and won an Academy Award for "Master and Commander."
"Having him on set brought a level of continuity to the idea," Curtis says. "He shot it in a way that just felt right."
If you look closely at all of the trailers, "everything we show is beautiful and really tourism under your nose," Weir says.
"We tried not to underestimate people and their detective skills; people are smart and have a lot of time on their hands. A movie coming completely out of nowhere is bound to make people skeptical," Weir says. "We threw a lot of misdirection out there and it will be interesting to see the breadcrumbs to sort of figure it out."
"In a strange way, because there is that ambiguity over exactly what it is, it got more attention than if it was wildly accepted that it was a movie," Curtis says.