Campaign Review: AAMI and Toyota take the AFL grand final

In Campaign Review, Mumbrella invites the industry's creatives and strategists to offer their views on recent ad campaigns. This week, Mumbrella asked Hardhat's Hayley Read, The Core Agency's Christian Finucane and Special Australia's Cat Williams and Jessica Roberts.

Brand: AAMI

Campaign: ‘The ultimate clanger’

Agency: OMD

The verdict: The big budget sports campaign we’ve been waiting for, but perhaps a bit too derivative

Hayley Read, senior strategist at Hardhat, gave it a 9/10, saying: 

For years I’ve been waiting for a big-budget brand to create a big moment at the AFL Grand Final. It’s consistently the most watched TV event in Australia but you wouldn’t know it from the standard offering of ads. Hats off to AAMI for setting a new benchmark – they’ve looked beyond a 30-second spot and found clear space in an ownable moment.

The idea is great, joining polished video with live action on the ground. It ticks the Strategy boxes of being relevant to the brand platform, is full of distinctive brand character assets, and feels good for both AAMI and the AFL.

They’ll earn points for authenticity – it’s full of iconic “if you know, you know” moments for footy fans, but the story still works for non-sportsters.

And hooray for letting athletes be athletes – the focus on their famous footy feats made for enjoyable performances instead of wooden deliveries.

Distinctive, on-brand, authentically ‘footy’, and fun to watch. Would love to see more big brand moments like this.

Christian Finucane, co-founder and creative partner at The Core Agency, gave it a 6/10, saying: 

I love the ambition to integrate AAMI’s TVC story within the pre-game entertainment, culminating with the match ball being delivered live onto the pitch by an ‘AAMI girl’ (AAMI professional female service representative these days?).

It’s bold. And similar to the sequence featuring The Queen and James Bond created for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, it can be captivating.

The insurer’s story starts with a bang. An AAMI branded skydiver delivering the match ball above the MCG gets taken out by a blue-tailed jumbo jet (no doubt much to the relief of Alan Joyce). The commentary-style VO lets us know things haven’t gone to plan – for a second I was wondering if this was going to be a fight out between FedEx and AAMI as to who would deliver the ball to the game.

We cut to see the skydiver dangling in a tree still holding the match ball. He looks remarkably unphased given he’s just been taken out by a 747, but luckily (pun intended) there’s an AMMI girl right there to the rescue. I assume she was out helping a kookaburra or something at the time. She didn’t seem to be worried if the skydiver was ok but was definitely keen to help with the real emergency of getting the ball to the game.

From here the spot departs from the slightly comedic to follow a more familiar path of players, fans, legends and broadcast partner b-listers all passing the ball around the country before it finally reaches the MCG. Nike and others have made numerous spots like this in the past. This is a shame as I think this story would have been better if they kept upping the ante from the unexpected beginning. This kind of creative opportunity and budget don’t come along every day so it would have been great to see something original.

That said, no doubt the ordinary punters watching at home would have enjoyed spotting the familiar faces along the way, before a real live AAMI woman walked the match ball out onto the pitch.

Cat Williams, senior creative and Jessica Roberts, senior art director, from Special Australia gave it a 5/10, saying: 

The most interesting part had to be the media placement and real time element, integrated within the AFL final. Pulling this off is a win for all involved and successfully highlights AAMI’s ongoing support to AFL and AFLW communities and local clubs.

AAMI does have a tendency to be heavy handed with branding and this spot was no exception. For a very well known Australian insurer, it feels a little unnecessary, and reminds us that we’re ready for the next chapter of AAMI (one without the staff member).

Using sportspeople in an ad is always a challenge. They’re great on the field, not necessarily off it. Considering AAMI TO THE RESCUE features 18 of them, this ad construct is a safe solution. It celebrates the athletes’ and commentators’ on camera abilities and doesn’t hold them accountable to lines of dialogue.

This two minute edit follows a very familiar ‘pass-it-on’ pattern and so it does drag on a little. We’re not huge footy fans and so the game/player related easter eggs scattered throughout weren’t enough to keep us fully entertained. The fans might beg to differ.

Brand: Toyota HiLux

Campaign: ‘An unbreakable connection’ 

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi

The verdict: A natural progression of the ‘unbreakable’ platform

Hayley gave it a 7/10, saying: 

Solid. Points for recognising the Grand Final as a big stage on which to launch a new brand platform. This is exactly what a famous brand and naming-rights partner should be doing, and the right lesson to learn from advertisers at the Super Bowl.

This spot could benefit from a few more Super Bowl pointers; I would’ve liked a bigger emotional resolve at the end, particularly after investing 90 seconds of time, and even more so if that time is during a big game.

Beyond that, the strategy feels great for Toyota. The brand and Hilux badge has reached the point where it’s much more than a car, and this campaign opens up some exciting new territory.

Keen to see where this platform goes next.

Christian gave it an 8/10, saying:

It’s always fun to be part of the AFL Grand Final, whether as a Swannies fan (earnt…) or watching all the footy final TVCs (bought…).

Well, it’s true to say I enjoyed this spot far more than the Swans’ action on the pitch.

Anyway, Toyota must have plenty of stock, at least I hope so because I reckon demand is about to go up.

The brief was to communicate Hilux’s connection with Australia since its launch in 1968. And the creative does this in an unexpected, fun and engaging way. We ‘see’ the invisible ghost of a family’s deceased dad turning their home upside down, while trying to find his car keys. Following some nice cut-aways to an iconic blue heeler and the ghost squaring up a photo frame of himself, he eventually finds the keys and zooms off in his trusty old Hilux. The already dead ghost putting on his seatbelt would have got a tick from the advertising standards people! There’s some authentic dialogue and the performances add to the charm too.

Does the idea nail the brief? I think so. My only gripe is the confected Hilux range shot in the garden and the “Oh what a feeling!” jumping sequence bolted onto the end. I know why it’s there, but it breaks the spell a little.

I can see why Saatchis and Toyota have been partners for so long – If ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Cat and Jessica gave it a 7/10, saying: 

Who doesn’t like a safety conscious ghost who puts on a seatbelt? Funny.

Now Toyota isn’t one to shy away from a tease and reveal structure and so this does feel a little expected from them. Nonetheless, it is well-crafted fun, and we were keen to see how the story would unfold.

While the narrative did feel familiar in a general sense, the comedic timing, sound design and music made it an enjoyable watch. Dad’s hunt for the keys in the bookshelf, behind the cushions and under the couch was charming and insightful (we’ve all been there). The casting and performance was that nice level of understated humour we love to see.

The front lawn car park gets branding upfront early. Tick. But the framing is a standard Toyota end shot. It breaks you from the story and leaves one less thing to discover.

Evolving the Unbreakable platform to include ‘connection’ feels like a natural progression for HiLUX and so we’re sure the fans will welcome it. Especially this beyond the grave interpretation.

As told to Kalila Welch. If you’re a senior creative or strategist who would like to take part in a future Campaign Review, please email

Make sure to take a listen to this week’s Mumbrellacast for a live audio campaign review of these campaigns and others, with Akkomplice’s Glenn Dalton and Thinkerbell’s Jim Ingram.


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