Why Bonds’ Birthday Project will be the campaign of 2012

Birthday ProjectOnce or twice a year, a campaign breaks that gets me really excited about the Australian marketing industry.

Back in 2010, it was Tontine’s date stamped pillows. I knew it was category redefining the moment I saw it.

In 2011, it was NAB’s Breakup.

Now I’m calling the campaign for 2012.

It’s for Bonds, and The Birthday Project breaks today.

It’s a project that makes great use of social media, taps into the public’s affection for Bonds, has got massive PR potential and is the best example yet of the opportunities of mass personalisation showcased so well by the Share A Coke campaign last year.

Like the most brilliant advertising ideas, it’s really simple. Let Australians claim every date of birth – and give them an individualised T-shirt with their own date on.

There are 35,000 dates to claim and the first 15,000 will get a free T-shirt. The rest get a discount voucher.

I am 21.11.70The website where it all takes place integrates with Facebook, where people can upload an image to claim their date. I’m sure that within hours, social media will be crawling with people crowing about claiming their date, urging friends to grab theirs or bemoaning not being fast enough to be first. The first thing I did after claiming my date (I am 21.11.70, by the way) was to urge all of my colleagues to get in there too. Shortly, that same conversation will be happening in offices around the country.

That’s the social element. The PR element is impressive too.

There’s a big launch at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney this lunchtime. Among the items unveiled will be this image by portrait photographer Darren Sylvester.

Click to enlarge

The picture features beloved Australians claiming their dates (note the question mark on Dame Edna’s year). I suspect we’ll be seeing this on TV tonight and in most of tomorrow’s papers.I’m sure you can spot Dame Edna, musician Gurrumul, young sailor Jessica Watson, actor Michael Caton and cook Margaret Fulton.

Interestingly, the advertising campaign to back this leans most heavily on outdoor. There are a selection of 63 ordinary Australians cast via Facebook, mixed with the key Bonds brand ambassadors including the likes of Pat Rafter, Sarah Murdoch and Rachael Taylor.

There are also press and radio components.

Nothing_like_australia_screengrab_2 mumbrellaAnother great social campaign this reminds me of is Tourism Australia’s invitation to the public to upload their best images, which in turn drove the next stage of the campaign. For instance, it’s not hard to picture future Bonds outdoor ads featuring some of the ordinary redheads who uploaded their images – We Are Red, anybody?

There are three main agencies involved. Clemenger BBDO Melbourne drove the original idea. The same people, incidentally, who were behind NAB, that I mentioned above. (Apart from being named AdNews’ agency of the year, winning the whole CUB roster and launching what may be the best campaign of the year, they’ve had a pretty quiet week.) The PR agency for this – which includes the credit for the Darren Sylvester PR element – is Baker Brand. And Mediacom Melbourne is the media agency.

So how does a campaign like this happen? In this case, let’s not forget the client.

You may recall Lindsey Evans was one of the architects of the Tontine campaign when she worked at the now defunct Happy Soldiers. After a period of consultancy Evans officially joined Pacific Brands at the end of the year, heading up the underwear brands.

The story behind the campaign is an interesting one, with the brief going out from Evans last August. It went to Clems and fellow rostered Pacific Brands agency Banjo. The brief called for a campaign to reignite the public’s love and affection for Bonds. It wanted to tap into the long term place the brand has had in Australian life, and the fact that young and old, and rich and poor have all worn Bonds clothing. Evans set a three week deadlines. After two days, Clems ECD Ant Keogh was on the phone to Evans, having cracked the brief. Evans tells me: “From that day on, nothing has changed about the idea.”

It seems to me, it’s also a good demonstration of how important getting the brief right in the first place is.

This is just the first part of The Birthday Project.

I can’t wait to watch it unfold.

Tim Burrowes


  1. AdGrunt
    28 Feb 12
    12:23 pm

  2. Agree. It has mucho “legs”

  3. Davis of the Internet
    28 Feb 12
    12:45 pm

  4. I have the same birthday as you Tim. Does that make me special? Yes, yes it does.

  5. Scott
    28 Feb 12
    1:04 pm

  6. “Aussies have grown up with Bonds since 1915…” reads the splash page.

    I would have thought this patriotic line was a little risky considering it’s only in recent memory that Bonds stopped being Australian made….but hey, maybe all is forgiven with a free T?


  7. Paul Naphtali
    28 Feb 12
    1:05 pm

  8. Great campaign, but no mobile site???

  9. Ash
    28 Feb 12
    1:09 pm

  10. It’d be great if the website would load!

  11. Ms V
    28 Feb 12
    1:10 pm

  12. Really? Thats a big call. I would never publish my full date on any of my social media pages and I would most certainly not advertise it on a tee. I will watch in amazement to see if this has ‘legs’.

  13. Jesse
    28 Feb 12
    1:11 pm

  14. I make a point of never divulging my birth date online for security reasons, especially on Facebook. It’s usually enough info for identity theft.

    And I lost all love for Bonds when they went offshore and into the Chinese sweatshops.

    Bonds were so great when they were an Aussie company and their t-shirts were $7. Sadly those days are gone.

    But I’m sure the campaign will be a huge success.

  15. Drew
    28 Feb 12
    1:13 pm

  16. Great idea however the site navigation is quite difficult & after several attempts to go from step 2 to step 3 I have given up. Is it Flash?

  17. Aaron
    28 Feb 12
    1:29 pm

  18. It’s only an hour or so in and I already have 3 people on my facebook timeline talking about it…..

    Between this and Share a Coke I think we are going to see a wave of mass personalisation campaigns…..

  19. Marc
    28 Feb 12
    1:33 pm

  20. There’s some major website issues…haven’t been able to claim. Can’t get past the photo upload…

  21. Drew
    28 Feb 12
    1:45 pm

  22. Website really is clunky. Can’t be campaign of the year if it annoys everyone!

  23. Alison
    28 Feb 12
    1:49 pm

  24. It’s a great project. But a bit of a shame that the site appears to have crashed already!

  25. Matt
    28 Feb 12
    1:53 pm

  26. I have to agree with Drew – the site’s cool and all, but Nav is quite tricky, and I got Space Invader’s finger trying to scroll to my date. Usually the Holler guys do the online stuff for Bonds, and their work is great – would be surprised if it’s them. Bueller, anyone?

  27. Rach
    28 Feb 12
    1:55 pm

  28. Just did it, and thought great idea, but instructions could have been easier, the little orange box over your photo is not intuitive, and its darn pain trying to slide the slider to your birthdate.

  29. George
    28 Feb 12
    1:57 pm

  30. Good idea, pretty poor execution. The website is riddled with errors/bugs. If you plan for 35,000 engaging in a campaign, get the servers prepped to handle the volume!

  31. Kelly
    28 Feb 12
    2:01 pm

  32. Agree with earlier posters – started to fill out my details, then wondered whether I really wanted the world knowing my name and date of birth, all connected to my Facebook profile.

    I decided it wasn’t worth a t-shirt.

  33. Phil
    28 Feb 12
    2:02 pm

  34. Site is not executed well, but I do love the idea, simple and all about ME!

  35. Holwa
    28 Feb 12
    2:03 pm

  36. Tick tock. 10 minutes later and the website has still not progressed from step 2 to step 3 – epic execution fail.

  37. jean cave
    28 Feb 12
    2:08 pm

  38. I won’t be publicising my birthday or getting into the website anytime soon.

  39. AK
    28 Feb 12
    2:14 pm

  40. Be great if the site worked! Won’t allow me to upload an entry at all and the crop tool is not working – ahh who cares about usability and execution when the idea rocks right!

  41. les wood
    28 Feb 12
    2:18 pm

  42. The website worked fine for me – stop your whinging

  43. Kelly
    28 Feb 12
    2:26 pm

  44. I had to load the site in Firefox for it to work properly.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    28 Feb 12
    2:27 pm

  46. Website fail….

  47. jk
    28 Feb 12
    2:36 pm

  48. Shouldn’t the models in the campaign be in their birthday suits?

  49. Ant
    28 Feb 12
    2:37 pm

  50. But does it work in IE6?

  51. Hardy
    28 Feb 12
    2:37 pm

  52. Agreed. The app hasn’t been tested properly! Can’t make it through to the submission stage.

  53. Peter Mountford
    28 Feb 12
    2:47 pm

  54. I agree with Tim that this is an exciting idea but they could of perhaps simplified the execution so it’s not so intrusive and difficult to participate.

    I think this will be one of the first campaigns of its kind to test how much people are willing to share about themselves online with a company. The idea of giving a company access to all your Facebook info including your photos and personal details as well as your friends birth dates seems like overkill just to get a t-shirt.

    I can see why bonds has done it but just because you can ask for all that information doesn’t mean you should. Time will tell though I guess…

  55. Adrian
    28 Feb 12
    2:47 pm

  56. Good idea. Bad implementation (website issues).

  57. Beau
    28 Feb 12
    2:53 pm

  58. Yeah excellent idea but I can’t progress past Step 2?

  59. David
    28 Feb 12
    3:24 pm

  60. website won’t load – just get a white screen so far and its been 5 mins

  61. beezlebub
    28 Feb 12
    3:57 pm

  62. interesting idea but amazes me that some seem so intent to give away private info for a measly offshore mfred cotton tshirt

  63. Kate
    28 Feb 12
    3:58 pm

  64. Agree that it can’t be the campaign of the year if you don’t make it accessible on i devices. Can’t imagine what made them cut that out.

  65. Client
    28 Feb 12
    4:00 pm

  66. Given that our servers are hosted in Germany and the site still worked well for me….leads me to think some of the people complaining need to have a look at their own I.T.
    Agree the date search was a bit cluncky

  67. Matt
    28 Feb 12
    4:06 pm

  68. Personalisation may just turn out to be the next flashmob – you may have jumped the gun a bit Tim (based on my experience with the crappy website thus far), we’ll see how we go. I hope to be proved wrong.

  69. Chris
    28 Feb 12
    4:19 pm

  70. Birth dates definitely worth a free t-shirt.
    Love it.

  71. I McHunt
    28 Feb 12
    4:26 pm

  72. i’m like the others- stuck at step 2 after 3 attempts. fail fail.

  73. mumbrella
    28 Feb 12
    4:56 pm

  74. Hi Kate,

    The message when you view it on a mobile device is that the site is on the way, so I don’t think they’ve deliberately cut mobile out – rather, not been ready in time for the launch.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  75. richie
    28 Feb 12
    4:59 pm

  76. i like it, but to say it will be the campaign of the year? big call. nothing is guaranteed and consumer behaviour is hard to get right. could be brilliant but could easily crash and burn, esp if they dont get it right in these early stages

  77. Madison
    28 Feb 12
    5:24 pm

  78. Oh shame. the site says ‘A problem has occured. Loading of All Dates failed’. I want to claim my date!

  79. Murray Galbraith
    28 Feb 12
    5:37 pm

  80. It sucks that the only problem I’ve had with it is a fairly major one (photograph crop – same as everyone else but easily fixed) …besides that it’s beautiful.

  81. rob
    28 Feb 12
    5:44 pm

  82. nice idea, not for me though as i value some semblance of privacy…..great for those who live their lives on facebook.

    fortunately these are people who will ignore the inconvenient truth of off-shoring by the company – lets hope it doesn’t come back to haunt them louie the fly style.

    but is it a bit tightarse to have 35,000 dates and only 15,000 t-shirts (discount vouchers for the rest). they make these t-shirts for 15 cents each in sweatshops in china, right? how hard to give one to all participants?

  83. Eric
    28 Feb 12
    6:45 pm

  84. Wow- Great Idea, but the site has let them down. Loading the photo now and have been for about 45 minutes. Not a good case study for the company who built this thing.

  85. Cher Smits
    28 Feb 12
    7:04 pm

  86. Hi , my birthday this year falls on the 12/12/12, very special, as this has ended all sequences, as in 01/01.01, 02/02/02 etc :)



  87. Maree Shanahan
    28 Feb 12
    7:06 pm

  88. 4th March 1954

  89. Dan
    28 Feb 12
    7:15 pm

  90. How annoying that such a great idea has been let down by poor technical implementation. The costs cuttings for the server now seem a bit silly don’t they?!

  91. Anon
    28 Feb 12
    7:56 pm

  92. Great campaign, but this won’t help Bonds sell more clothes

  93. fraser
    28 Feb 12
    8:11 pm

  94. Has the site gone home for the night as I can’ even open it tonight, I’ve tried in multiple browsers.

    I agree the 15,000 t-shirts when there is 35,000 available dates is a bit tight and goes against the brief of reigniting the publics love and affection for the brand.

    Great idea, although the technical execution leaves a lot to be desired. Some more testing wouldn’t have gone a miss.

  95. Kay H
    28 Feb 12
    8:15 pm

  96. Love the pics. Go Bonds!!! I claim 19/11/1942.

  97. Aaron
    28 Feb 12
    8:20 pm

  98. The site is down. It’s interesting to see what’s going on over at the Bonds Facebook page. A lot of confused people have flocked there to post their photo and date of birth in the hope of getting a shirt. https://www.facebook.com/BONDS

  99. jennifer wright
    28 Feb 12
    8:25 pm

  100. I can’t get onto the site have tried well over an hour says theres a problem

  101. oh well part 1
    28 Feb 12
    8:56 pm

  102. Giving away something is a lot different to selling something. Plus you have the chance of disappointing a lot more people than you please. But fun, engaging etc. and heaps of content for on-going campaign if needed for next to zilch.

  103. Mike Boyd
    28 Feb 12
    9:30 pm

  104. The site is a great idea but the execution is very poor. Bad user interface and very little instructional text.

    Where is the mobile version? Thought that in 2012 mobile would have come first. All smartphones & tablets have cameras…

  105. SimonB
    28 Feb 12
    9:41 pm

  106. Likewise, can’t acces via Safari on a mobile device and wont load via Firefox. Failed for not aging the server capacity :-(

  107. SimonB
    28 Feb 12
    9:42 pm

  108. Likewise, can’t acces via Safari on a mobile device and wont load via Firefox. Failed for not having the server capacity

  109. David
    28 Feb 12
    10:32 pm

  110. The line between success and failure has never been so thin as this.

  111. Eduardo Ramos
    28 Feb 12
    10:37 pm

  112. Great idea but really poor technical execution……….

  113. Gary
    28 Feb 12
    10:41 pm

  114. Yeah site is struggling big time.

  115. Too early to call
    28 Feb 12
    10:49 pm

  116. I claimed my birthday date at lunchtime. It is 10.40PM and it’s still not posted. I have no idea yet if I was the first to claim my date. I don’t give a rats about the t shirt.

    Did they not expect high volume traffic? The “whoopsie” page when you try to access on a mobile device is a massive, embarrassing fail.

    I don’t think this will be the 2012 Campaign of the year. I think it is more likely to appear in conversations about how important it is to have everything ready to go the instant the GO button is sent for a website to go live.

    Many of the comments I am hearing are about frustration or disappointment in delivery..

  117. yvonne
    28 Feb 12
    11:08 pm

  118. hey this is a good idea my birthday is on 23 jan 62 i look forward to getting my t’shirt like bonds undies.

  119. J
    28 Feb 12
    11:33 pm

  120. It’s a great idea granted. However, unlike Coke – the mechanic isn’t linked to sales do the efficacy won’t be anywhere near as strong.

  121. Chris perth
    28 Feb 12
    11:34 pm

  122. Campaign of the year? big call, gwad I hope not it as it s only Feb. but then I was not as fan of the NAB campiagn either. The amount of spin that was on tonights “Current Affair ” programmes was nauseating, lets see the sales figures at the end of the campaign.

  123. Rushdie
    29 Feb 12
    9:09 am

  124. This concept is seriously flawed. Who, over 30 wants to giveaway their birth date? It will go down in advertising folk lore as the perfect example of advertising people so far up their own bums they lost touch with how humans feel.

  125. Ann
    29 Feb 12
    9:15 am

  126. I agree Tim it’s a great campaign. Well done to Clemenger. However that being said I think its a little early in year to be calling it the best campaign of 2012. There’s many of us working on campaigns now that might turf it off the podium :-)

    Also I think some of the comments from your readers are very valid and exactly how I felt. I noticed my bday wasnt claimed. I went to claim it then stopped and realised I didnt want (1) everyone knowing my birthday (call it vanity and security and professional withholding of info) and (2) I would never wear a tshirt with my bday stamped on it so what is the point. Then I went to upload my kids pics – same things stopped me as above.

    So – that got me thinking. Is this a campaign that will only appeal to a certain demographic – maybe. It will be interesting to see.

  127. James
    29 Feb 12
    10:50 am

  128. Oh dear Tim.
    Great idea, but the problem with dabbling in social media is you can very easily and quickly have #Qantasluxury on your hands. Bonds appears to be heading this way with a website that’s choked and seems unable to get past Step 2. It stops on “saving your photo” and goes nowhere from there.
    I’ve tried it than 20 times over the past 24 hrs since reading about it on Mumbrella (in that time, dates claimed have gone from 350 to 2000) and it’s failed every time.
    It seems I’m not alone and already the anger is starting to grow on Facebook.
    Am I right in thinking Bonds don’t even a twitter account so you can interact and they can respond about the issue? Hmm.
    They may have lined up plenty of celebrities for the campaign, but I good idea lives and dies on its execution and right now, Bonds is executing itself.

  129. Tim
    29 Feb 12
    11:25 am

  130. Considering Facebook knows all of your friends birthdates, a lot of possibility was lost by not implementing a feature which takes advantage of that.

  131. Nup
    29 Feb 12
    12:07 pm

  132. @ Tim (comment 65.)

    Nobody knows my birthday because I am friends with them on Facebook. I choose to not reveal that detail, via my personal account settings.

    I still feel this will be a succesful campaign. (A free t-shirt) will always be popular.

    The genius in the coke campaign is that nothing was free apart from the free advertising that Coke gained as a result…

  133. Dene
    29 Feb 12
    1:20 pm

  134. Great idea but terrible execution (can’t get past step 2… frozen at ‘saving your photo). Now I’m just annoyed at Bonds, rather than excited about participating in a potentially great social media campaign. Surely the opposite if the ‘warm & fuzzy’ experience they were aiming for?

  135. Anonymous
    29 Feb 12
    2:13 pm

  136. Campaign of 2012? If the negative feedback and abuse happening over on their FaceBook wall is anything to go by, I doubt it.

  137. Nat
    29 Feb 12
    4:07 pm

  138. Nice Campaign – but execution is not so sharp! The whole experience of loading my photo was frustrating and the site is difficult to navigate… my birth date is unique, so happy to share it…. its all just for fun.

  139. Pissed off
    29 Feb 12
    5:03 pm

  140. Major flaw.I claimed my day yesterday and checked back today to see my birthday has been claimed by someone else.Now I unhappy. Bad customer experience. Fail

  141. TimTimTim
    29 Feb 12
    5:32 pm

  142. 1. Seriously dude, it’s February… you’re already calling this a winner when we’ve just broken out of the gates? In your world, it’s like naming a news story an incredible piece of investigative journalism judged only by the headline.

    2. A great campaign is more than just an idea. It’s how it is executed. In this case, it’s a UX fail.

    3. I love the idea of ‘mass personalisation’ as you call it. Reminds me of the scene from Life of Brian… “YES, WE’RE ALL INDIVIDUALS!”

  143. BondBoy
    1 Mar 12
    12:43 am

  144. Didn’t work earlier today, but did tonight – other than the photo-cropping. One lesson for the knockers… I entered to win a t-shirt. Don’t for a second think that means I would ever wear it anywhere other than inside my own house. Who says you have to load your pic via Facebook, anyhow?

  145. yepFail
    1 Mar 12
    11:54 am

  146. Yep, very disappointed… the poor and ridiculously slow approval procedure which resulted in everyone believing their date was free and they could claim the free tshirt, then waiting 48 hours to find they were wrong, will just seriously p*, I mean annoy many more customers than they satisfy, like me… I’m off to use my bonds tshirt as a cleaning rag…

  147. bandit
    1 Mar 12
    3:08 pm

  148. Great idea, but wrong brand. They can say “Aussies have grown up with Bonds since 1915” all they like, but now that Bonds has moved out of home, the only real affection we’re going to have for them as a brand is if they are cheap/convenient.
    Wish this idea was saved for something we could really get behind for the right reasons.

  149. MathMan
    7 Mar 12
    7:48 am

  150. @cher 01/01/3001 thru 12/12/3012?

  151. notagain!!
    7 Mar 12
    10:13 am

  152. sorry was distracted by the bulge in the guys pants. I’ll be researching that birthday and trying to track that bad boy down