Campaign Review: A perfect 10 for summer lamb, but Officeworks gets a 1/10

In the first Campaign Review for 2021, Campaign Edge's Dee Madigan and Clemenger BBDO Melbourne's Jacqueline Witts give their views on Meat and Livestock Australia breaking down borders for the love of lamb, Officeworks heading back to school on stereotypes, and Subway refreshing 'Eat Fresh'.

Brand: Meat and Livestock Australia
‘Make lamb, not walls’
Agency: The Monkeys
The verdict: Cheeky

Dee Madigan, executive creative director at Campaign Edge, says: 

“This is not my favourite lamb ad. However, the fact that we look forward to the MLA ads every year is a testament to a history of great work.

The production values are superb as is the casting, and there are some very funny state jokes. I would have liked to seen more of the state jokes (can’t believe there were no Victorians in black turtlenecks). The random Instagram couple and the Queensland dick joke feels a bit out of place amongst some genuinely funny moments. But the end gag is a cracker.

Overall, this is good not great.

Update: Just saw the feuding political leaders billboard campaign.
Love this. That gets an extra mark.”

Rating: 8/10

Jacqueline Witts, head of planning at Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, says: 

“When American infectious disease expert, Dr Michel Osterholm appeared on ABC’s 7:30 at the beginning of COVID in early April last year, Leigh Sales asked him why, despite his warning of a pandemic for over a decade, COVID-19 caught us by surprise.

He responded: “I think we really lack creative imagination. And what I mean by that is that no one could have envisaged – so they say – all the constellation of things that have happened”.

I reflected on this as I first absorbed the two minute spot from The Monkeys and MLA as they projected us forward to 2031 and a reality that feels highly unlikely and yet completely probable all at once. Invisible borders have become concrete and Australia is divided, until lamb brings us together.

It’s clever. Australia Day in the modern day divides us, just as border closures have, and the new lamb campaign addresses this in a light but meaningful manner.

I’ve always admired the strategic genius of that comes from lamb owning our national day, creating a whole new consumption occasion, but this year is a cultural collision; owning Australia Day and making a statement informed by COVID. It nails it.

There are the little executional details; the man who chips away at the concrete with his keys, the excited bite out of the best part of the lamb chop, these are the bits we recognise. We all do it, and in that recognition, the execution itself carries the meaning through – lamb on Australia Day is something that brings us together and has become stitched into the fabric of our own rituals.

And let’s hear it for that brilliant end scene: a buff version of ScoMo returning from an ill-timed holiday once again. Very cheeky.”

Rating: 10/10

Brand: Officeworks
Back to school
Agency: AJF Partnership
The verdict: “Heap of sexist rubbish”

Madigan says: 

“Mothers in the kitchen cooking while their little girls (in frilly dresses) are squealing over pink stuff. And dads and sons playing cricket in the backyard.

Either Officeworks have accidentally run their 1985 campaign, or someone actually wrote, approved and made this heap of sexist rubbish.

I’m hoping it’s the former.”

Rating: 1/10

Witts says:

“Officeworks is a great brand that has been central to our lives in the last year. The faces at my local store have become familiar to me as I have headed in time and time again to print school handouts, grab a student desk, stock up on yet more notebooks, even if I didn’t need that something it was an excuse to get out of the house.

Last year, retailers stepped into a very different space, particularly those who were providing us with the things we really needed. For a brand like Officeworks, gone was the impetus to tell people the brand plays a meaningful role, it just played it.

Officeworks represented familiarity and certainty – and the answer to many of our urgent problems. This Back to School campaign could have been a moment for the brand to celebrate that and continue to play that essential supporting role in getting the kids back to school.

Officeworks does Back to School brilliantly, they’ll even take your list and fill it for you. But, unhappily, this feels like it could have been a Back to School message for any other year, ignoring the cultural context we have just lived through and continue to navigate.

The tired old gender stereotypes in the executions is both clear and out of brand character. Officeworks at its best has been about diversity and has a history of using diverse talent.

The result of not staying true to this has meant understandable backlash for the brand and is another lesson to us all in the importance of viewing the work critically, through the eyes of the audience that will be exposed to it.”

Rating: 4/10

Brand: Subway
Subway Challenge
Agency: Publicis
The verdict: Navigating tricky competition

Madigan says:

“There is no doubt that the Subway brand has been on a downward trajectory since the dizzy heights of the 2000 campaign, which introduced Jared Fogel as the guy who lost 300 pounds by eating Subway.

The increased competition of other players in the market as well as the 2018 conviction of the same Jared Fogel for child porn didn’t help, nor did the ruling last year by an Irish judge who said the sugar content of Subway rolls is too high to be considered bread and should be classified as confectionary.

But I do like this spot, if for no other reason than it doesn’t look like other ads.

There’s very little appetite appeal which is slightly odd for a ‘fresh’ food brand, but it is a fresh-looking ad, and even though I didn’t know who the hell Julian Dennison was, my 15-year-old did and he’s probably closer to the target market than me.”

Rating: 7/10

Witts says: 

“Subway is the black sheep of fast food. Not able to blend into the flock, lest the brand forfeit its health(ier) credentials, yet needing to occupy the same consumption occasion.

With the boom in wellness and a younger audience who are more health conscious, Subway doesn’t quite hold up to scrutiny for a customer in search of a healthy lunch. But as an acceptable fast option, it wants to be seen as better than most.

There has been something of a renaissance of nostalgia brands, like Levi’s, using its heritage themes to tap into a younger audience. By heroing freshness and bringing back the old line, Subway makes sense strategically in an effort to lure new customers through the store. But one misstep: the execution steals so successfully from the tropes of fast food that I forget to think fresh.”

Rating: 5/10

  • As told to Zoe Wilkinson. If you’re a senior creative or strategist who would like to take part in a future Campaign Review, please email zoew@mumbrella.com.au

Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.