Organic reach is elusive. It doesn’t have to be

Emily Tormey May 2019 Video, Travel

YouTube Works is an annual advertising effectiveness awards program, developed and run in partnership with Kantar. Tourism Australia, Droga5, and Universal McCann are the 2019 winners of the most influential or buzzworthy campaign for “Dundee: The Son of a Legend Returns Home.” Here’s how they pulled it off.

Organic reach is like the golden ticket of marketing: Everyone’s looking for it, but it’s hard to come by. That was Tourism Australia’s dilemma when devising a U.S. campaign it planned to launch in the lead-up to the 2018 Super Bowl. After all, it knew it couldn’t outspend its global counterparts, and the “tyranny of distance” meant it had its work cut out to persuade Americans to take the trip.

Enter Crocodile Dundee. When the original film was released in 1986, the impact on tourism in Australia was both massive and completely organic. A remake of the film would conceivably drive vast, organic reach that could act as a launch pad for the team’s paid marketing strategy and highlight Australia’s differentiating factor: the irreverent humor of its people.

Sixteen days before the Super Bowl, the marketing team and their agency partners at Universal McCann and Droga5 released a teaser: a 38-second trailer starring Danny McBride, for a sequel to the 1986 classic. A week before the Super Bowl, an extended cameo was released featuring beautiful scenery, well-known Australian celebrities — from Margot Robbie to Russell Crowe — and most importantly, classic Aussie humor.

Then, on the day of the Super Bowl, Tourism Australia flipped the script, releasing another trailer that revealed what nobody had suspected: This wasn’t a real movie; it was an ad. “It duped us all,” wrote the New York Times, one of the many media outlets that covered the innovative marketing campaign.

The ad was a huge organic hit, becoming 2018’s most-viewed Super Bowl campaign, and later, the 2019 YouTube Works Awards winner for most influential or buzzworthy campaign. The team capitalized on this success by remarketing to key audiences to nudge them through the funnel. The result was Australia’s most successful tourism campaign in the U.S. Visitor spending increased 30% and U.S. tourist visas increased by 11.5% in the six months following the campaign.

Of course, not every brand can pull off a movie trailer. But to recreate some of the “Dundee” magic in your own campaign, focus on doing these three things.

Go with native content that feels right at home

Movie-related content is wildly popular on YouTube. For example, in the year leading up to January 2018, watch time of episode and movie recaps increased 50%.1 By launching a campaign disguised as a trailer, Tourism Australia was tapping into an already captive audience.

Illustration: Blue and white film slate with yellow refresh button overlay. Stat: Over 50% increase in watch time episode and movie recaps in the year leading up to January 2018.

The team also promoted the movie trailer on the social channels of the celebrities featured in the fake film, and it was picked up and rehosted by movie trailer channels like JoBlo, which has over 2 million subscribers. By mirroring the cadence of a true Hollywood release, the campaign generated almost all of its pre-Super Bowl engagement completely organically, which the team built on with some paid promotions.

Whatever platforms you’re using for your campaigns, if you want to reach people organically, seek inspiration from the type of content they’re already engaging with.

Grab people’s attention — when they’re already paying attention

If there’s one event that generates a whole lot of interest in ads, it’s the Super Bowl. That’s why Tourism Australia chose this moment to reveal that, what everyone had assumed was a trailer for an upcoming movie, was in fact an ad. From then, the campaign flipped from “film” to “tourism” and directed people to Australia.com, where itineraries were offered through a dedicated campaign marketplace.

By aligning its campaign with a tentpole moment that’s been described as “the one time of the year people actually want to watch ads,” Tourism Australia was again able to reach a captive audience that was actively looking for entertaining ads.

Together these efforts generated over 14,000 press mentions and $85 million of earned media. Following the reveal, Australia.com reported a campaign lead conversion rate 4X greater for paid advertising and 10X greater for organic content on a year-over-year basis, generating over 367,000 leads.

Don’t stop at organic reach. Capitalize on it

“Dundee” succeeded in capturing broad organic reach, but Tourism Australia also saw an opportunity for more tailored content. The breadth of organic impressions captured in the first phase of the campaign resulted in a large pool of viewers that could be remarketed to. The team also had a hunch that tailored content works harder at driving intent.

That’s why they created follow-up videos focusing on Australia's unique selling points. For example, some featured scenic coastal towns like Byron Bay; others featured Australian wine. The team then served these ads to people who had previously expressed an interest in things like beach vacations or who were actively researching trips to similar locations. This contributed to higher intent: 66% of exposed American consumers were more likely to visit Australia, with an 83% increase in intent to book a trip.

Organic reach can seem elusive. “Dundee” shows that by creating relevant content that feels native to a platform, brands can amplify reach organically — and then capitalize on that interest with a paid campaign that drives action.

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