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Bonds Shop Your Shape Hipsters vs No Show TV ad

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I’ve posted a succession of great Bonds work.

It is one of the best examples of campaign consistency. Sexy, fun ads for the target that are really great product demonstrations. Relevant, interesting and motivating from an emotional and rational point of view.

The Bonds Industries logo

All with well crafted soundtracks (particularly the Baby “Zip It” work). And great product names / descriptors. Simple, but effective.

I hope with the changes at the company they stick to the plan – all too often the need for change in a campaign can be client rather than consumer.

Bonds remain a cool and clever brand.

Some other examples: blokes, babies, hipsters, rollers, others

NAB Freedom Pizza Big Brother break in

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User big brother 1984

I like this effort from Clemenger BBDO Melbourne for NAB.

It fits with their ‘different’ positioning and actually has a point in terms of the product offering to ‘free’ people from locked in contracts.

Even though it didn’t come off, nice bit of social media work.

Not so convinced of the rationale behind NAB putting a $20,000 reward to the first housemate who chooses to leave the Big Brother house. Surely this could be better spent?

And Big Brother should expect more remote control planes, fly-bys, kites, sign writing and any other form of intrusive, interruptive brand work. Nine were not amused, but isn’t there an advertising opportunity in there somewhere?

John Hegarty Bursts the Cannes Bubble – “Make the bloody work better”

I’ve glanced at the commentary coming from Cannes annual advertising shindig. A lot of local Australian reports have bemoaned the fact that local agencies haven’t swept the board with awards. In fact Australian agencies such as Clemengers seem to have done quite well?

It was therefore interesting to see John Hegarty who is founder and worldwide creative director of BBH, returning to the basics and telling the industry to pull it’s creative socks up in his speech at Cannes as reported in AdNews.

The great thing about John and his leadership of BBH is that he doesn’t change. His principles and practical approach to advertising remain basically the same, they just evolve with experience. I am biased having worked there, but it made a lasting impression as John was one of the best marketeers I ever met, as well as having countless creative credentials.

Despite the chagrin of many in advertising who are scratching their heads as to why awards and recognition aren’t flowing their way, John puts it simply:

“Make the bloody work better. We must be the only industry in the world that actually thinks you can succeed when the work’s getting worse. We don’t talk about this enough.

“Obviously Cannes is about this, but what are we doing about it, how are we changing the way we’re working to create better work.”

I think that this is outstanding for the fact that it is true, the fact that BBH have been at the forefront of creativity and that John has the guts to throw off the Emperors new clothes and look at the industry with fresh eyes as a respected veteran of the business.

Not to say that there isn’t great work out there. There just isn’t enough of it. There seems to be a lot of “lazy” advertising, dictated by the need to get the campaign on-air on-time. I’ve seen creativity rushed and ruined as a result of a notional deadline to get it on-air.

John went on to say that advertising needs to stimulate and solicit the right response in the consumer along the lines of:

“Wow, I want to have a conversation with these people’, as opposed to ‘I’m doing my best to ignore them and they’re doing their best to trip me up in some way or another’. Isn’t that awful, we’re an industry that tries to trick people into watching what we do, why isn’t it inspiring, so people want to watch it.”

The discussion about the effectiveness of introspective “teaser” campaigns (Commbank, Blackberry etc) falls into this bracket of trying to “trick” and entice people into guessing the campaign. This assumes that consumers can actually be bothered?

Advertisers being big (in spend terms…) with teasers and tricks, but not necessarily clever in terms of creatively attracting consumers, are then bemused as to why effectiveness awards allude them and their CMO’s are replaced every 18 months?

Consumers don’t like to be deceived or have to guess who or what is behind a campaign, even if advertisers think that this brings engagement. It is more likely to bring annoyance and antipathy towards the campaign and brand. Consumers are wise to it and the novelty has worn off.

Advertising is a tool to drive awareness, engagement and sales and should be judged on these parameters. Advertisers are at risk of talking to themselves and then wondering why no one is listening?

The truth is that advertisers are not making ads that are truly relevant, interesting and motivating and that reach a mass market quickly and efficiently with the message.

As John says the ads aren’t good enough. Many advertisers are seduced into making advertising for social engagement on-line and PR notoriety first. Whilst this is important in contributing to a campaign idea, it can’t replace the effectiveness of producing strategically sound mass market creative to impact consumers and change opinions into new behaviour (i.e. buying stuff).

What was the last TV ad (TV still reaches the most households), that made you say “I really want that” or “they look like a great company I want to hear more from” or “wow, that changes my opinion!”

Hopefully hearing this from John will provoke the industry into some positive thought and action.

His book lays it out pretty clearly and is boiled down to the basics of the two most important points to remember if you’re a creative:

• The truth is the most powerful strategy

• The power of irreverence

The truth of product propositions seems to be getting lost in the “art” of advertising. The same rules still apply. Great products and services with genuine unique selling points (product truths), creatively delivered to attract the attention of consumers – this is what still works and sells.

When it comes to handling a situation or tackling an idea, John couldn’t stress more the importance of these two aspects of truth and irreverence in his book. Ask yourself, what is it exactly you’re trying to do? You should always challenge the accepted norm. Of course, he highlighted the fact that when it comes to clients, you can’t always break prejudice, it’s all about how you make the limits they give you distinctive. A nice challenge to the traditional brief.

He follows up with the first of many interesting anecdotes, featuring one of the most influential creative minds in advertising, Bill Bernbach. After the Second World War, Germany’s economy was kaput and they were in desperate need of a boost. One of the key elements they had to offer was their cars and they needed to sell them badly. They decided to approach an American named Bill Bernbach to try to generate sales for the Volkwagen Beetle. Now here was a car which was completely unappealing and actually not all that good, but Bernbach saw an opportunity in advertising a key feature about it. It was small. In this world of everything getting bigger, and bigger meaning better, Bernbach identified that the beetle went against the grain, and instead of trying to hide from supposed disadvantage, he turned the spotlight onto it and came up with the now famous line: “Think small”…and as they say the rest is history.

I hope that John and his blunt appraisal drives clients and creatives to make history and produce the campaigns that the industry can be proud of and that the consumers deserve.

CommBank “can” press campaign

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This campaign is still creating lots of trade talk.

I for one was critical of the fact that the promise of what the bank “can” do was not delivered in the TV ad.

As suspected, the follow up justification is now coming thick and fast.

As a rational message I like the press. Particularly the simple, clear and well branded message endorsed by a gold medal.

More of this and the consumers have a real reason to look at the claim and the bank.

CommBank “Can” Campaign – Kaching, Concierge, Sandcastle and Lollipop ladies

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Commbank has succeeded in getting a lot of attention through a teaser “can” campaign and launch ad with Toni Collette as posted below: Can

We now see the follow-up.

I was anticipating a bit more of a hard sell on product and service based attributes?

The “kaching” app is nice (any fees?). But the beleaguered commuter and lollipop ladies aren’t really selling me much of a service and I think a more motivating proposition is to give the potential customer real, rational reasons to switch banking based on leadership.

I still think the campaign needs to convince consumers why Commbank “can do something” no one else can or how Commbank will do something better than the others?

Hugs and feel goods don’t have the relevance, interest and motivation to get me through the door. Bank rates, service delivery and unique products other than apps could…

Here’s the series as launched:

Nice ads and well executed, but is a nice bank, with feel good friendly representatives enough to convince consumers to act in testing times?

The press which appeared after this post, does the best job so far of putting the rational support behind “can” (Can Press Campaign)

Interesting to see Mumbrella report some consumer feedback…

Commonwealth Bank “Can” and “Can’t” Campaign with Toni Collette – “An Ode to Can” and the latest TV ad

After being teased with “can’t” we now see the “can” campaign in full from Commonwealth Bank.

Much has been written about the merits of the teaser campaign, about those that ambushed it and if it was effective against the target, assuming that we know who it is targeted at and what effect “teasing” has on a target inundated with advertising messages? I think “teasing” is a figment of the agencies imagination and the consumer rarely notices the message, despite a massive amount of expensive media.

This campaign has plenty of polish. M&C Saatchi work their magic in film and their creative team wrote a very nicely crafted poem as well (see the bottom of the post for the words), delivered impeccably by Toni Collette, who is surprisingly appropriate for the tone of the ad.

You are invited into the prospect of a great big brand reveal in the ad. Nike? A charity? Perhaps a vocational career? Saving the world or rain forests?

And then it’s a bank?

Some more cynical consumers might say that banks are the antithesis of “can”. They could pass on the interest rate cuts in full, but “can’t” due to the bottom line, economy, shareholders etc. Banks certainly suffer in a financial crisis and are often and sometimes wrongly (who helped me buy the house again…?), portrayed as the pariah of the masses. They are arguably no longer a badge of honor for employees – all post GFC issues that are very real if you are trying to attract and retain customers and the best staff.

So back to the bank ad, it positively glows with warmth and radiates assured positive vibes…the choice of Toni and the strategy to read a nice poem about the “possible” entertains and entices beautifully. It is a very slick, simple piece of work that you enjoy viewing.

But what is it aiming to achieve?

I wonder if a large part of the client “buying” the campaign is to do with internal communications? If all Commbank staff adopted a “can do” mentality, the customers might be happier which equals more money and happier staff, which equals happier customers and more money (over simplified I accept).

I am less certain about the relevance of “can” to the bank’s consumers when delivered so conceptually via a TV ad. Are people likely to be left feeling inspired, perhaps taking up that hobby after all, but left confused about what it means to their banking?

The consumer might be doubting the message given their experience.

They might be thinking where is “can” when they ask if they can lower their interest rate on the mortgage, or when they ask if Commbank can better a competitors rate? The “can do” concept is contrary to the current perceived truth and I am left wondering what facts back up this “can do” claim? If there are new products and services in this regard, the campaign could be a golden opportunity to make this known? If this is a precursor to all the answers about what Commbank “can do” then it could develop nicely. Perhaps if you go in and ask you just might get a deal (…a bit like Bing Lee)?

But this particular ad is all about emotional not rational values. And perhaps this is where it misses an opportunity to “sell” in the minutes worth of poetic action. Why not do both?

Advertising should close the deal. It should engage you emotionally and entertain you, whilst convincing you rationally of the product or services it wants you to buy. It is a sales tool (sorry, but it really is). It gives you reasons to believe and then act. With a significant media spend on TV, I feel both emotional and rational messages should be in the ad to drive engagement and “sales”.

This is arguably a very unfashionable and even old-fashioned view of the art of advertising. One held by the likes of John Hegarty, Dave Trott and the like (try DT’s blog for more).

Consumers should be credited with the capacity to look at advertising and discern the sales message amongst the shine of a polished ad. This is what great advertising does – engage and sell.

I may be doing a disservice to the Commbankers who will certainly have a clever “can” direct mail out there, giving some rational reasons as to what Commbank “can do” tout de suite! This could be the entrée to a campaign about all the proof points as to why Commbank can? But such a good ad would be a great ad if it delivered a reason “why” or “how” Commbank “can” in these 60 seconds.

The current reality is that the press is full of contradictory stories on the problems in the sector and Commbank has taken a fair share of criticism over job cuts and mortgage rates, leaving consumers with a different perception of the product to that presented in the ad. and testing the credibility of the “can” promise with consumers. Consumers are suspicious of banking institutions and are lacking confidence in their motives.

This ad is wonderfully produced, full of emotional engagement, but what is it hoping to achieve without some rational reasons to believe in the bank’s products and act? Maybe the next bit of the campaign is the hard sell?

Commbank doesn’t need to build awareness, it doesn’t need to change the colour of the logo, it needs to change negative attitudes based on what consumers perceive the banks to be and give skeptical people rational reasons to move from their bank to Commbank. The hardest bit is done – it captures the attention in a positive manner, but what am I motivated to do?

I don’t think that the current mortgage rate and GFC driven negative perceptions to banking / individual banks can be altered by just the warmth of a positive, well presented, but ultimately generic “feel good” statement. This is a luxury most advertisers can’t afford and most CFO’s won’t support. Customers treat this category seriously and need compelling reasons to break up with their bank and get a better deal elsewhere. This isn’t selling cosmetics it’s selling control and care of your cash.

The excellent NAB ads: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDbvAEcP_2k took the decision to be “on your side” and “break up” with those other bad banks. BUT it also had one of the lowest mortgage rates of the high street banks. Clever, creative and insightful advertising backed up by a strong product proposition.

ING got it right with a simple, well branded ad that showed the interest rate. Less likely to win awards, but more likely to win customers for who it is relevant (I want to save money), interesting (orange apes?) and motivating (the best rates).

The Saatchi and Commbank marketing team are all top players in the game. As noted, this could be the opener to a campaign full of answers for the rational side of the pitch of new products and services, all predicated with what Commbank “can” and will do for you.

They have a new set of TV ads out here…New Commbank Campaign so judge for yourself. I think the best rational support is delivered in the press ads posted later here: CommBank Press Campaign. The most recent work takes yet another direction with James Magnussen.

Ultimately I still believe that this TV creative could have been a much more effective ad if it had the rational “what we can do for you” sales message incorporated, complementing the engaging entertainment. A much bigger creative challenge, but with much greater rewards.

But hang on…What about BT?

An interestng post script to this high-profile campaign are the reports in Mumbrella and AdNews of plagiarism, even if it is from the same agencies earlier work in 1999 for BT in the UK. The similarities are striking – the original BT work was pitched as follows:

“Focusing on the idea that chief executives hate the word ’can’t’, poster sites on major routes into London will initially carry a teaser campaign reading simply ’Can’t’.

“After a few days, the teaser will be transformed into ’Can’ with paint, eggs and graffiti, above the line, ’BT. You Can.”

An interesting conversation between agency and client no doubt as it potentially takes the polish off this one, but then how many ideas are truly original and who but a few of us actually remember 1999?

Ode to Can.

There’s a four lettered word
As offensive as any
It holds back the few
Puts a stop to the many.

You can’t climb that mountain
You can’t cross the sea
You can’t become anything you want to be.
He can’t hit a century
They can’t find a cure.
She can’t think about leaving or searching for more.
Because Can’t is a word with a habit of stopping
The ebb and the flow of ideas
It keeps dropping
itself where we know in our hearts it’s not needed
And saying “don’t go” when we could have succeeded.

But those four little letters
That end with a T
They can change in an instant
When shortened to three.
We can take off the T
We can do it today
We can move forward not back
We can find our own way.

We can build we can run
We can follow the sun
We can push we can pull
We can say I’m someone
Who refuses to believe
That life can’t be better
With the removal of one
Insignificant letter.

Any good and fair work done by CommBank (plagiarism aside) has been potentially ruined by their on-line attempt at humour – a joke set in London featuring a back-pack bomb hoax. Now removed by CommBank, but widely reported. Interesting proof if it were needed of the reach and impact of some viral on-line efforts.

High Profile = High Parody

As a more lighthearted close, here is a Sportsbet parody of this more than earnest effort by Toni. Sportsbet have offered a ‘can can’ dance off to see who would host each others ad for 24 hours and donate $50,000 to charity – CBA declined on the basis that they don’t gamble with charity donations (…and this is more NAB territory!). Perhaps they might have chosen a more human answer and capitalised on this PR opportunity?

And Finally…Gloss vs Gold?

So after all is said and first posted, what is the final (final!) take on the campaign?

Fundamentally I think that this is a big idea. Nice to see.

An idea that relies on a big voice and a lot of support in all areas of the business. Also being executed well in terms of spend and ‘touch points’

It started in a esoteric, ethos sort of way, which lost it for me – a bit too much emotion without the support. It subsequently (and as of Sept) has reverted to much more traditional ‘proof point’ rational advertising. Saying exactly what Commbank can do. Not award winning, but useful delivery of attitude changing info with the emotional engagement of a can do attitude:

This is an idea with many, many facets to the campaign.

I still believe that the campaign would have been more effective in changing hearts and minds if the campaign that melded the emotional and rational messages from the start. It is always a lot to assume that people follow every twist and turn of a big campaign. However loud it shouts.

A lot of money was spent saying ‘can’ and teasing the consumer into being  interested. Despite the new sexy image of banking, I still don’t think finance is just about the gloss (the poem opener) when people are counting their gold (i.e. what is the best rate for me?).

Perhaps more might have been devoted to ‘can do what exactly’ from the opener?

And some of the best, most innovative things Commbank have done – make a Kaching payment app in the face of an amazing omission from the new iPhone, and give your iPhone an invaluable tool to look for and buy your new house.

Nice to see something different generating plenty of opinions.