Welcome back: How the global agencies are coming back from the dead in Australia
We are, I think, about to hit a very interesting period for Australia’s creative agencies.
Intriguing things are happening in what even a couple of years ago would have been unexpected places.
And by unexpected places, I mean the local offices of some of the big but previously moribund global brands. In particular I’m thinking of Havas Worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi, McCann and Ogilvy.
Often such agencies can get by on being the local outlet for a global alignment where the client would struggle to fire them if they wanted to.
But in reent months, that’s where some of the most interesting trends – and work – have been emerging.
Now, it’s fair to say that Havas Worldwide – which rebadged from Euro RSCG last year – has quietly created one of the most distinctive positions in the market.
A trademark is beginning to emerge around Havas’ work.
Virtually every campaign that emerges from Havas has as big a consumer and social media PR story at its heart as it does a creative execution. In large part, this is driven by executive creative director Steve Coll, best known for creating the Cannes Effectiveness Lion winning Walkers Sandwich campaign for AMV BBDO in the UK.
Most recently, that big PR story was the Durex Fundawear campaign launched a fortnight or so ago – the video to accompany the promotion of the cyber controlled underwear is likely to pass 5m views in the next few hours, thanks largely to the amount of media coverage it received.
It’s also possible to begin to see how they can now build on this “Durexperiment” positioning as they develop the brand. It’s got real global potential too.
Now I must confess, I have felt at times there was a touch of cynicism at the heart of some of these ideas when it came to the gullibility or perhaps willingness of the media to play the game if there’s entertaining content to be had. But I must also confess that as the case studies have started to stack up, the evidence is that Coll understands how to get coverage for his brands better than many PRs do. I t depresses me a little that the press is complicit, but it also works. In that approach Coll reminds me a little of Trevor Beattie (Hello Boys for Wonderbra and FCUK ) in his pomp.
And Coll made an excellent case for it when he came to Mumbrella House for a Hangout last month:
Havas can now claim to be the most PR-savvy creative agency in Australia.
The trademark in this case is story arcs.
These are the people who brought us the story of Rhonda, which has been a phenomenally successful continuing series for AAMI.
Somewhat more controversially though, Ogilvy is bringing the same approach to Vodafone.
Now personally, I’m not a fan of the developing story of an engaged couple who knock off issues like network guarantees and data usage as they get ready for their wedding.
But I’ve got a feeling that the campaign may be more effective than it is creative. And it certainly suggests a credible strategic approach. If Ogilvy can become known as the agency that makes story arcs work (and the last people that really did so were BWM with their Telstra Big Pond Rabbits series featuring father and son Patrick and Daniel) then that’s a great thing to stand for.
It’s a fair point of view to suggest that McCann got lucky with viral success of the brilliant Dumb Ways To Die campaign for Metro trains in Victoria (more than 45m views now). But putting it alongside last month’s ad of the month title for Mastercard – based on a decent sized sample of the general public – suggests that executive creative director John Mescall is an ECD who knows how to captivate ordinary consumers.
But for me, the agency which is most rapidly bouncing back is Saatchi & Saatchi. Until the arrival of the new management team of CEO Michael Rebelo, ECD Damon Stapleton and planning director Jason Lonsdale, it felt to me that they were just about a lost cause. Writing about them was profoundly depressing.
Over the weekend, the TEDx audience also got to see this rather charming piece of art from Saatchis:
As our often cynical commenter AdGrunt said of Saatchis new St George ad yesterday: “Welcome back.”
Welcome back indeed.