I come from a Land Down Under – Telstra TV ad

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The ad, created by DDB Sydney, features Men At Work’s Colin Hay and a cast of Ozzies in London. An unbranded version of the ad was played to the whole Olympic team just after Australia’s flag bearer was announced. This immediately shows that it is hitting the right note with real people.

I like it for its honest simplicity and emotional effectiveness, versus other efforts to convince us of Ozzie roots / provenance or general “Ozzieness”. This spot seems to strike the right “C’mon Ozzie” chord with the locals versus metaphorical skyward gazing from Qantas or too much deep and meaningful from CommBank with Toni Collette.

A few people have referenced this ad in preference to the Qantas effort and I can understand why. Both use music to bring you the brand, but Telstra hit a better note with the locals.

And we might even assume that it is relevant as these Ozzies will all be phoning home!?

A good tune with the right emotional pull can make even a modest ad, with few rational reasons to believe, a memorable and magical effort. At the end of the day and as Hegarty once said:

“If you can’t say it, sing it…”

OXY – Zit popping man sized problems

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Please note – I wouldn’t look at this if you’ve got food on your mind! It contains explicit zit popping material.

A while ago an almost surgical excising of a zit became an internet viral hit – the on-line pimple squeezing got a lot of views. 5 million endured the 3 minutes in full glory.

Some of those unforgettable moments are in this piece from Naked Comms in Sydney together with a multitude of other zit popping moments.

The venerable Adam Ferrier said:

“We pride ourselves on finding the right solution to the presenting problem. This video, although difficult to watch for some, will tickle the target markets interest and get people to try Oxy.

“The idea came from the simple insight that guys like watching videos of guys squeezing big pimples. It speaks to our target much more authentically than the glossy, cheesy work of Oxy’s big spending competitors. We believe this work will result in mass trial of the brand, and change consumer behaviour towards Oxy.”

An age ago I worked on the brand when it was with SmithKlineBeecham. We thought ourselves somewhat revolutionary for introducing the word “zit” into our ads – famously coining the line “Blitz those Zits with Oxy”. It did well as it appealed to the target in their terms versus Clearasil which was still talking “cleansing”.

That was prior to the connected revolution the target enjoy today so I think it is probably a very smart strategy to re-calibrate the conversation (on-line at least) and show the true gory glory to the target.

The on-line piece concludes on a free sample afer the “man sized” message – it works and should generate trial if it reaches enough people. My only add-on would have been something a bit more brand centric about to close…something like:

“Blitz those Zits with Oxy…”

New Old Spice Olympics ad – “I will live forever”.

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I liked the last set of ads P&G released for the brand. They were in keeping with the “Smell like a Man” theme of previous work and had the same nicely edited touch.

But this work is a head scratcher?

The same tune is applied to what I think is quite a different idea and I’m left wondering if this is stretching the original creative premise too far just to shoe horn in the Olympics reference? It doesn’t really work as part of the previous idea or as a stand alone.

Particularly after P&G did such an original and classy job with Olympic mums?

Perhaps this is a case of “Too much of a good thing” regarding Smell Like A Man theming, and P&G need to find a more original way to build on their classic work if the brand is going to continue to re-establish itself.

New Qantas TV ad – “you’re the reason we fly”

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2007 to present

After much anticipation the new Qantas campaign has launched.

The ad features the new tagline “You’re the reason we fly” with a Daniel Johns track, titled “Atlas”. Somewhat put in the shade by the latest Telstra “Land Down Under” track. The ad also has a new logo, a compilation of 22,000 Australian faces which make up the flying kangaroo.

It’s interesting that the campaign has dropped the famous song “I still call Australia Home” and has also moved away from iconic Australian images.

Featuring real people is a “see-through” strategy to ensure that “real” people feel that this is their airline (and that’s the reason they fly…). It hopes to be relevant to them and that they will relate to it. As an iconic national carrier, that has arguably lost it’s way, this is quite a risk. The notional change from “Australia’s” to “Australian‘s” airline indicated that this was coming.

The question is what does the ad do to either inspire people afresh or change attitudes? And there is a bit of a negative mountain to climb in many travelers minds both perceived (press negativity) and experienced (the entertainment isn’t working, it’s late again etc)

Emotionally it engages through the everyday people it hopes to be relevant to. Some nice shots and as you would expect beautifully produced. The launch campaign is customer-focused, featuring Australian’s from the coast, the cities and the country, a destination-based TVC will follow.

Unfortunately the depiction of everyday people is somewhat generic. The “reasons to believe” or think differently about the carrier are absent.

I believe advertising must have a creative message that sells (really!). I’m not sure what I am asked to buy in this ad or what attitude I am expected to change? In other words it is generic.

The previous ad famously became an anthem for all that was great about Australia (and delivered by Qantas).

This seems to lack any proprietary backbone in terms of what is unique about Qantas. Owning the place was one thing that resonated as it is a national carrier going to all parts of the country (less true these days). Owning the people is quite a different proposition that relies on delivering superb service which judging from on-line comments is somewhat lacking of late.

In comparison to the Virgin ad which stressed a fast pace and determined approach to service (…showing staff, service and boasting a lot of planes no less!), this ad falls short on delivering a message that you can grab hold of and believe in. At this stage in the brand journey, people need a bit more substance to believe in.

The compilation logo treatment has a lot more style than substance and is perhaps too wrapped up in the strategy of “Australian’s” versus a clear depiction of the logo, particularly when there are no other clear brand references in the ad – I believe that you can never assume that everyone seeing it knows who it is for.

I completely get where the ad is trying to position the brand, I’m just not sure it is as convincing as it needs to be.

As a recent article put it the new generation of traveller has no emotional attachment to Qantas and its wider significance to the country, also suggesting that:

Qantas is coming home to an empty house, with a sign pinned to the fridge saying, “Your chicken dinner – or beef dinner if we cannot fulfil your first choice – is in the dog” and an ever-growing stack of bills to pay.

A lot of work to be done to change hearts and minds.

Qantas has said that the TVCs are designed to tug on the “heart strings” and to “re-engage emotionally with consumers”.

The final stage of the campaign, which Qantas has labelled the ‘prove’ segment, will make up the lions-share of the rebrand efforts.

Is this another example of the consumer being gently introduced into the sell via a soft emotionally charged entrée? It seems to be a trend amongst bigger budget brands to “engage” emotionally first then sell second with proof points (Commonwealth Bank, Virgin Mobile, Woolworth’s etc).

The cynical might suggest this could be a clever sales tactic by agencies. But I think it is flawed to assume that consumers are interested enough to stay with brands through these different phases (and connect them). The better option is surely to make a single ad (or connected campaign) which can receive significant weight and generate the desired impact emotionally AND rationally (Hyundai, Cannon, The Guardian etc)

The team at Qantas are skilled marketeers with broad budgets and I hope that the rational reasons to fly with them (the proof) will be delivered in the next ad against this emotionally staged backdrop of relating to everyday people.

The problem with this execution is a basic one – marketing 101 really:

“what is actually proprietary and unique about this ad”?

The answer is very little. Added to which, the ‘You’re The Reason We Fly‘ tagline is exactly the same wording used by the now-defunct Carnival Airlines in the USA.

As reported in AdNews, creative leaders have not suggested Qantas plagiarised the positioning, they have chastised the company for using a “generic” statement that could have been used before, and for “not doing their homework”.

McCann executive creative director John Mescall told AdNews: “It’s not surprising this has happened because it is such a generic motherhood statement. This is laziness not plagiarism.

A lazy, generic approach to advertising and the assumption that consumers will be interested enough in the emotional “art” to act or change opinions, shows a lack of insight into the consumer, the category and a lack of belief in the brand’s selling points (which are absent).

Ultimately everyday people will judge this work versus the previous iconic work and more importantly, they will judge the airline by the delivery of a decent service in a highly competitive market.

Unfortunately, I think that this work will fly by them relatively unnoticed.

Carefree Actifresh – The “Vagina” Word TV ad

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Much of my recent postings have been around the subject of “taste”.

This is taste in terms of what advertising should and shouldn’t say and suggest around traditionally taboo subjects. As well as examples of poor taste propped up by the excuse of irreverence and tongue in cheek (Lynx being a shocker)

Some would argue that taste is a subjective measure of what we as individuals deem appropriate as advertising.

I think that the question of taste or advertising standards is more than that. We need to arbitrate in these matters on behalf of the mass market majority who are exposed to the advertising – particularly when it is on TV. Rather than crushing creativity, this should actually prompt more ingenious, imaginative solutions to communication.

The creative community can argue that we should break these taboos – use the word vagina when discussing feminine hygiene. Show explicit imagery to demonstrate problems (accidents / disease etc). Many might suggest that we are lessening the creative impact by embargoing these words and images.

At the risk of sounding conservative on creativity, I don’t agree.

I think that this ad is a beautifully produced ad. It captures the attention and the dialogue is relevant and motivating to the target. The last thing it needed was the seemingly gratuitous inclusion of the word vagina. I don’t think this inclusion adds anything to comprehension or awareness of the message. It just shocks the casual viewer, as in “did they just say that”?

Are we to imagine that the target didn’t get the message and needed to be alerted to it through hearing vagina in the monologue?

In the words of Johnson & Johnson:

“We have decided to take a bold approach in this campaign with the aim to tackle a subject which has always been taboo.”

I don’t think the language is going to make this a bold ad on a taboo subject.

There is a lot of debate on it at present. Daye Moffitt, brand strategy director at creative agency Moon, offered a female perspective.

“Personally, it makes me cringe, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing and I do think it is a good strategy. The shock tactic helps with getting young women to listen up – it gets their attention in a very loud marketplace.  It’s an effective and memorable ad, certainly.”

With the greatest respect to Daye, I think that cringe is the issue – imagine how parents with teenage boys respond when they hear it.

As anticipated the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau has received over 30 complaints since the ad first screened on Sunday evening. A spokesperson for the ASB said:

 “Most of the complaints are about the terminology that’s used and the nakedness of the woman,”

Interesting that the nudity got so much attention, suggesting how conservative our viewers really are.

The creative challenge reaches beyond the use of explicit or provocative language. And “vagina” can be considered as explicit language to many in the mass market living rooms.

Creativity needs to find new ways of reaching into the consciousness of viewers. Ways that don’t rely on gimmicks, tricks and controversy.

The ad is good, not great, and the inclusion of the word vagina merely serves to draw attention to the word not the problem or brand. Probably at the cringing discomfort of many women who would rather not shout it loud and proud from the living room floor.

These women are after all the target market and discretion in communication is perhaps more relevant and motivating than the vagina monologue.

Status Quo Coles TV ad – Prices are Down, Down, they’re staying down!

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Coles Supermarkets logo.

Every bit of me says I should lambast this work.

Here we have the legends (Grandfathers…) of Rock, the mighty Status Quo, reworking their 1975 hit, ‘Down, deeper and down’, to include Coles’ ‘Down, down, prices are down’.

Quo’s original track was the inspiration behind the supermarket’s grating, but memorable tune introduced last year.

But before I drift off into dismissive hyperbole about the demise of the once great ad industry, a few salient thoughts:

  1. There is a lot of tongue in cheek in this one.
  2. Quo were the inspiration for the tune anyway.
  3. The band seem to be having fun – no doubt acutely aware of the ease of making money from Coles.

The overall impression isn’t therefore that this is a credible Rock band selling out, it’s more a case of here are some ageing Rockers having a laugh at the expense of Coles.

At the same time it delivers the message and as a nod to the original tune is a bit of fun (if a bit of a cringe at the same time). This should appeal to a lot of the mass market and get the tune lazer etched into everyone’s subconscious.

Red guitars on sale in-store apparently.

Funny for a moment, but I only hope we don’t have to endure the joke too often on our screens!

Here are the boys doing their bit: