Written by By Atika Sharma, CNN
Australia’s smallest town wants its world-famous resident Chris Hemsworth. The actor was so moved when he visited Toowoomba — Australia’s only 24-hour supermarket in case you were wondering — that he has vowed to renovate a local restaurant in the town’s name.
But the heroic gesture only succeeds at highlighting the town’s greatest weakness: its internet-based campaign has seemingly given Toowoomba added weight online, rather than inspiring the world’s biggest celebrity.
The recent guerrilla marketing stunt was inspired by Hemsworth’s visit to Toowoomba last year. Last week, the actor was invited to eat dinner at The Festival in Curramulka, Australia. The eatery, which opened in 1984, sits on a large property with 84 rooms.
The character-driven story is told from the perspective of Paul (played by comedian James Macmillan), a punter living on the property.
The six-minute film is narrated in a tellingly unromantic manner — a palpable commentary on the quaintness of Hemsworth’s iconic town, but not a novel one for the locals.
“But Chris wanted to share an evening in the business with people that don’t have an outlet like he does,” said Macmillan, who said he was surprised by the decision.
“The office worker has no outlet to chit-chat about his day,” he added. “You sit there and try to talk to him because he just is, an Australian hero, isn’t he?”
For Macmillan, the film showed how the actor’s popularity with Aussies relates to Hemsworth’s character in “Thor,” an Asgardian warrior.
Hemsworth accepts the challenge
Macmillan asked Hemsworth if he would lend his name to the restaurant.
“I said to him, ‘Wow. What is wrong with you, Chris Hemsworth?’,” Macmillan said.
“He said, ‘I just think I’ll get in there and fix it.’ “
The name of the new restaurant is still up for grabs, but it will be called Paul’s Toowoomba. The actors posed for photos outside the venue with the staff.
The project has earned the town one of the top Google trends this week. At the time of writing, the interest in Hemsworth’s volunteer effort was outpacing that of news headlines about online gambling website, Betfair.
“The feedback on that (unusual) hashtag definitely went to the town,” Macmillan said. “It is just the biggest tourist attraction in Toowoomba.”
Comparing Australia’s largest film premiere ever, playing at the Oscars, to a smaller town in Queensland, Macmillan acknowledges that the idea was an unusual one.
“Most people would think we are some kind of small town or town that will be built someday,” he said. “I think the majority of people would not think we have a big potential to gain from tourism. And that’s cool with me.”
He said the town had lost out on a chance to be featured on the big screen for “getting in on the conversation in a fun way.”