Hogan hero: Why this is our best tourism ad ever | VIDEO

Tourist figures no raw prawn

Thirty years ago this month Paul Hogan took the US by storm as the loveable ocker who urged Americans to put a shrimp on the barbie.

The exact line uttered by Hoges in the tourism advertisement that became so ingrained in the psyche of the US was: ''I'll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie for you.''

It was part of the ''Come and say G'day'' campaign and still stands as one of Australia's most memorable tourism promotions.

''Everybody remembers this ad even though it was made for the North American market and only actually ever ran there,'' Tourism Australia corporate affairs general manager Karen Halbert said.

Bill Baker, a branding expert who co-managed the campaign in the US for its duration from 1984 to 1990, said the ad is still ''top of mind'' for many Americans.

''No Aussie tourism campaign has come close to matching it,'' he said.

Soon after Hoges appeared on US television screens, Australia became a must-see destination. Within three months, it rocketed from No.78 on the most-desired holiday list for Americans to No.7. Arrivals doubled over the first three years and for four years the growth rate was more than 25 per cent annually.

Mr Baker said the campaign, launched at a National Football League game in Los Angeles in January 1984, succeeded because for the first time it went beyond Australia's known attributes of wildlife, outback and Great Barrier Reef.

''It engaged Americans on an emotional level, inviting them to immerse themselves in the relaxed Australian lifestyle. It used friendliness, the Australian accent and a cheeky sense of humour.''

John Brown, the then tourism minister, has said the campaign paved the way for the modern tourism industry in Australia. ''We basically didn't have an image before Hogan's campaign,'' he said. ''We were seen as a zoo, you know, interesting marsupials and no people.''

The Hogan ad and his Crocodile Dundee movies that followed provided a catalyst for tourism in areas such as Kakadu. The crocodile-shaped hotel, the Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn, and its sister property Cooinda Lodge, will run a Paul Hogan weekend in late February.

There will be shrimps on the barbie, Paul Hogan fancy dress and screenings of his films, Kakadu Tourism executive officer Ken McNaught said.

Mr Baker does not think a similar ad could work again because global campaigns have moved to online engagement and interaction.

Such is the case with Tourism Australia's latest effort, ''There's nothing like Australia''.

This campaign started by asking Australians to post their favourite holiday photos to an interactive site.

It has followed up with advertising showing iconic Australian destinations with a moving soundtrack, ''It's Like Love''.

And the latest phase of the campaign is ''Restaurant Australia'', a push to promote the high quality of wine and food here, way beyond the shrimp on the barbie.

G'day world: 30 years of selling Australia

The big success: Come and say g'day (1984-1990)

In the first three months of this $15 million campaign, remembered for its "shrimp on the barbie" line by Paul Hogan, there were 70,000 inquiries from Americans about holidaying in Australia. Holiday visa applications for Australia from US increased by 54 per cent with 285,000 calls in 1985 to the campaign hotline.

The big flop: Where the bloody hell are you? (2006)

Model Lara Bingle is seen on a beach in a bikini and asks ''so where the bloody hell are you?'' The colloquialism is lost overseas. Canada complains and the UK bans the ad because of the swear word. Ad has to be re-written for Asia. A $180 million failure.

...and the rest

Australia: a different light (2004)

A $360 milliion campaign, featuring Richie Benaud, Michael Parkinson and poet Les Murray seeks to sell Australia's unique brightness "both figuratively and literally" to the world.

Come Walkabout (2008)

Baz Luhrmann followed his film Australia with a $40 million global ad campaign for Tourism Australia featuring the movie's young Aboriginal star Brandon Walters.

Sydney Oprah House (2010)

In a $3 million exercise, US talk show host Oprah Winfrey filmed two episodes of her show in Australia in 2010 and brings 300 audience members with her, all expenses paid, to visit icons such as the Opera House and Uluru.

There's nothing like Australia (2010-current)

This digital age campaign, seen in 25 countries in 17 languages, called for photos of people's favourite Australia holiday destinations to create ''mosaic'' of the country on an interactive site.

Best jobs in the world 2013

Tourism Australia emulated Tourism Queensland's success by offering six ''best jobs'' around Australia. There were 600,000 applications from 200 countries for various positions, including a ''chief funster'' to attend parties and events in NSW.

Destination Australia: Then & Now

OVERSEAS TOURIST ARRIVALS

1984

1.015 million

2013

6.3 million

THE TOP NATIONS

1984

NZ, UK, US, Japan, Germany

2013

NZ, UK, China, US, Singapore

US VISITOR ARRIVALS

1984: 159,418

1989: 312,145

2001: 502,106

2010: 488,582

2011: 465,695

2014: 501,600

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The story Hogan hero: Why this is our best tourism ad ever | VIDEO first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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