Australia is to feature in two episodes of popular Asian reality show, Running Man, as part of a collaboration betweenTourism Australia, Tourism Victoria and the South Australia Tourism Commission (SATC) aimed at attracting more Chinese visitors Down Under. The Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne Museum, Rundle Mall and Barossa Valley are amongst the locations which will provide the backdrop for a series of celebrity challenges filmed recently in Victoria and South Australia. The mega-production involved four days of intense filming and a crew of more than 200.
The Australian episodes are expected to be watched by more than a hundred million fans of the cult series in China and across Asia, when the show airs in January 2016.
As a spin-off of the original Korean series, the Chinese version of Running Man was first broadcast in October 2014 and is now in Season 3. In that time, the show has accumulated a viewership of more than 23 billion and generated over 150 million social media posts. The first three episodes of this season’s show have already generated more than 200 million online views.
Tourism Australia Managing Director John O’Sullivan, who got to play a small cameo role in one of the episodes, said the popularity of the show would build upon the recent success Australia had enjoyed showcasing its top tourism attractions through the eyes of well-known Asian celebrities.
“With its massive celebrities and huge audiences, Running Man is reality TV on steroids. Importantly, the audience profile for people watching the show aligns very closely with our target consumer, which makes the show a very appealing marketing platform for us,” he said.
The Federal Minister for Tourism and International Education, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck said, “Tourism Australia’s research has shown that Australia sits at the top of Chinese travellers’ travel ‘wish list’. Running Man is the perfect opportunity to showcase Australia’s strength in these areas to this crucial market and encourage them to convert that aspiration into actual holidays.”
“The Victorian Government is delighted that Victoria will again provide a backdrop for this blockbuster television format, broadcasting the sights of Melbourne to many millions of Chinese viewers. China is Victoria’s biggest market in terms of visitor numbers and accounts for 31% of all international tourism expenditure across the State so productions such asRunning Man are pivotal in promoting our destination there,” said Victoria’s Minister for Tourism & Major Events, John Eren.
South Australia’s Tourism Minister, Leon Bignell, said the filming of Running Man in South Australia had already generated a lot of social media interest.
“China is an important tourism market. Recent data shows 32,000 Chinese tourists visited our state in the 12 months to June 15. This is a 9.3 per cent increase compared to the previous year. We are on track to reach our goal of 57,000 Chinese visitors by 2020, and Running Man provides a huge platform to showcase our state and help us reach this target,” he said.
Running Man (China) is produced by Zhejiang Satellite Television (ZJSTV). In each episode, a star-studded cast of ‘resident’ cast members is joined by two special celebrity guests, who all compete in a series of challenges in order to avoid elimination.
The Chinese stars featuring in the Australian episodes include actor and singer Deng Chao, model and actress‘Angelababy’ (Yeung Wing), actor Chen He, actor Li Chen, actor and singer Wong Cho-lam, singer and actor Lu Hanand actor Zheng Kai. During the visit, Mr Wong Cho-lam was inducted into Tourism Australia’s ‘Friends of Australia’ program, in recognition of his involvement in previous Tourism Australia marketing initiatives.
Speaking of their time in Australia, all of the Running Man stars agreed that the experience had been “truly amazing’, paying special tribute to the warm welcome they had received from their Australian hosts during the filming.
The show’s Chief Producer, Mr Cen Junyi, and Chief Director, Ms Chen Gezhou, said they were glad to cooperate with Tourism Australia, adding that “the beautiful scenery, world-class travel destinations, friendly people, fresh and tasty food and wine experiences of Australia had significantly enriched the content of the program.”
This is the second time Tourism Australia has brought Running Man Down Under, having successfully lured the Korean version of show to Australia in 2013 when three episodes were filmed featuring Queensland’s Gold Coast, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and Palm Beach as well as Melbourne’s laneways and surrounds. This was the first time the show had ever travelled outside of Asia to film.
Other Asian celebrities Tourism Australia has previously enlisted to help promote Australia include Chinese TV personalities Show Lo and Rainie Yang and Nicky Wu and Ekin Cheng.
China is Australia’s second largest inbound tourism market by volume, with 966,100 Chinese visitor arrivals in the 12 months to September, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures.