Campaign Review: AFL’s ‘bloody great’ ads, Cadbury’s marketing miss and Red Cross’ unique campaign

Mumbrella invites the industry's most senior creatives and strategists to offer their views on the latest ad campaigns. This week: Bashful's strategy director, Guy Marshall, and PENSO's Constantine Frantzeskos offer their views on AFL's emotive campaign, Cadbury's flat advertising, Coles' simple brand promise and Red Cross' hard-hitting ad.

Brand: AFL
Agency: Clemenger BBDO Melbourne
The Verdict: ‘Bloody great’ which is relevant and told perfectly

Guy Marshall, strategy director, Bashful, says:

“I don’t like to admit it, but on a Monday I often find myself in a fragile state of mind and have been known to shed a tear during a B-grade Netflix movie, the 7.30 report or some particularly emotive advertising. Each one of the films that make up the new AFL ‘Don’t Believe in Never’ campaign had me working hard not to openly weep in front of the entire agency. These are bloody great films.

“What footy marketing teams are starting to understand, and that the Australian Cricket team really doesn’t, is that sport is not just about spectacle, it is about stories. The tale of the underdog triumphing against the odds, the old champion with one more season left to prove they are truly great, the once-in-a-generation athlete that walks among us to transcend the limitations of the human form. Sport is a fabric onto which we project our desires and fears, our sense of ethics and the kind of world that we want.

Marshall says “Each one of the films that make up the new AFL ‘Don’t Believe in Never’ campaign had me working hard not to openly weep”

“In 2018 can there be any question that the future story of sport will be about diversity? Sport will tell of a world that is opening up opportunity for everyone, creating an inclusive environment that welcomes all, not just white men. The future is female and ethnically mixed and built on a return to the tribalism of community clubs like the Richmond Tigers.

“And of course diversity is a very smart business strategy, the code that welcomes not just the WHOLE family but EVERY family will surely triumph in the footy wars. Because it’s quite clear that a population of 24 million can’t support four codes.

“This campaign coupled with the successful second season of the AFLW have put the AFL even further ahead of the pack and as a good Sydney-based Rugby boy, I’m not pleased about this at all.”

Ant White, chief creative officer, CHE Proximity, says:

White says the ad is “awesome”, “culturally relevant, timely and perfectly told”

“Footy is full of clichés. Big knocks, blokes being blokes, screaming fans. It’s kind of what makes it awesome. But the clichés are pretty hard to avoid when making ads for the sport. We’ve seen it all before.

“Don’t Believe in Never rises above all the clichés and finds a great truth about the sport. Football is more than a game. It brings people from all walks of life together. It gives the players an outlet to leave whatever else they are dealing with behind to focus on playing the game they love, against the odds. And we love an underdog.

“The three stories they have launched with are culturally relevant, timely and perfectly told. I just hope the fans feel the emotion in the stories and don’t miss the clichés they’ve come to expect.”

Brand: Red Cross
Agency: Cummins&Partners
The Verdict: ‘Pure poetry’ with unique execution and high production values, but it could be so much more

Marshall says:

“The idea that blood is the meaning of life, the universe and everything is pure poetry. I applaud everyone who worked on this for making this link and for attempting to do something new. The execution is unique with surprisingly high production values for this category and is unlike anything I’ve seen before. The moment we switch into talking about blood donation does feel a little jarring but this is only a minor executional quibble.

“Having said that, the hard truth is that only one in 30 people donate blood and that to maintain the supply the Red Cross need 25,000 donations every single week. This is a tall task. I do wonder whether this campaign is hard-hitting enough to do the weekly job of getting hopeless, lazy people, like myself, into a blood bank to give the gift of life, the universe and everything.

“It’s a great idea for starting a conversation and will no doubt be supported by some more hard-hitting, urgent communications.”

White says:

“Blood has a shelf life of 42 days. That’s a great proposition to work to. That means every day the Red Cross has to throw away blood that could have saved a life. It means if I haven’t donated blood for 41 days, it’s time to help out again. You could do so much with that.

“This film looks beautiful. It’s well shot, edited well, with good casting and good direction, but it’s just a film and could be so much more. This is a story built around another story ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ that gets in the way of a great fact. I get the parallel, but for me, 42 isn’t the answer, it’s the problem. I’m not sure this film will find the solution and get people to donate blood.”

Brand: Cadbury
Agency: VCCP
The Verdict: The ad makes viewers fall asleep and feels like an insurance ad

Marshall says:

“I eat several pieces of Cadbury Dairy Milk with hazelnut every single day. I can attest that though it’s not helping stymie the relentless march of horizontal growth familiar to 30-something men everywhere, it does bring me a small, yet reliable amount of joy. I approach my chocolate consumption with the mien of the addict everywhere; panic escalating to a pronounced hysteria if I open the fridge door and I’m not soothed by that deep, regal purple. If the shops are closed, we are in for a dark evening ahead.

“Cadbury have long described their brand purpose as ‘to give people joy.’ Which is just the sort of thing I’d think of as bunkum if it weren’t for the daily evidence that my Cadbury addiction brings me so much God damn joy.

“Unfortunately, this ad does not bring the watcher a moment of joy. In fact it would be lucky to keep you awake. It feels less like a spot for one of the world’s most-loved, exciting brands and more like a campaign for insurance. The story and the talent are flat and where are all those exciting purple cues to remind you we are in the world of Cadbury?

“When you consider this work in the context of the campaigns they have done in the past, this feels like an even bigger miss. ‘There’s a glass and a half in everyone’ is a great platform, but this execution really lets it down.

“But never fear, if you are hankering after that joyous feeling, I can guarantee that a couple of pieces of Cadbury’s finest will get you there.”

White says:

“Handling global work can be hard work. The long list of deliverables and mandates from a long list of clients. The communication breakdown. The cultural barriers. The conflicting agendas. Presenting scripts over patchy conference calls, with awkwardly long phone numbers at 5am, 2am, or whatever time the other country wakes up. The silence on the other line after you deliver the punchline. Talking over each other because you don’t know whose turn it is to talk. ‘Sorry, you go. No, you, g… No, you… Okay, I was sayin… Well we thought the… Sorry, you go’. Then you get the overly formal email with the consolidated feedback from that long list of clients. Handling global work can be hard work.”

Brand: Coles
Agency: Big Red
The Verdict: A simple brand promise with a smart message

Marshall says:

“Every marketer loves to hate Coles advertising. It seems to transgress every sacred cow in the business. They talk about price, not value. They execute in a tacky, traditional way. They use jingles that are an affront to music lovers everywhere and their idea of a relevant brand ambassador is Casey Donovan. ( I say this as someone who was an avid fan of Australian Idol and big backer of the
fortunes of Casey in 2003, but does think there may be some more contemporary references). And yet despite all of this the ‘Prices are down’ platform has continued to work for them for many years. A simple-to-understand brand promise (Prices are Down), backed up with an easy-to-recognise distinctive asset (that incessant red hand!) and a healthy media budget that hammers it home.

“Perhaps in 2018 they feel that they have established this platform enough to begin to build a bigger story. ‘Good things are happening at Coles’ is not a world-beating creative proposition, but feels like a smart message in conjunction with ‘prices are down.’ It supports stories about corporate social responsibility and any number of products, and feels complementary to the prices are down strategy rather than competitive.

“The big question is: does this platform have the ability to drive consumer preference to a point that it will change behaviour? For most people the supermarket they go to is the one that is closest to them. There can’t be that many people who are passionate brand lovers, to the exclusion of all others, of either Coles or Woolies. If someone said they only shopped at Coles and refused
to step through the door of the Woolworths round the corner from their house, you’d think there was something a little wrong in their mind tank.

“Aldi on the other hand have established that they are ‘Good Different’ through both product and marketing. And this, of course, is squeezing the duopoly. In a world where Aldi are the value player, does Coles need to offer more than lower prices? In an environment where people are passionate about what Aldi offers, do both Coles and Woolworths need to do more to drive brand preference?

“For this to be successful Coles need to do two things; make sure that there are loads of good new things happening so that they have stuff to talk about and when someone walks in store the ads feel believable. If there really were lots of good new things happening at Coles, I might even start to preference them over the competition.

“Second: never completely lose sight of their prices are down messaging. As Woolworths have proven over and over again, fresh is great, Australian grown is lovely but the price of milk is a much bigger deal.”

White says:

“We expect brands to do good things. With such power and influence comes a responsibility to act in the best interest of the customer, the planet and our future. We’ve all seen the research that shows people are more likely to endorse brands that act. Any decent planners have been telling us this for years. Some of the best brands take on this responsibility. Patagonia, REI, Chipotle all come to mind.

“Coles is listening to its customers to put in place a platform of work that allows them to ‘do good things’ by innovating and acting rather than just saying. It would be awesome if removing plastic bags is next on the agenda.”

  • As told to Abigail Dawson. If you’re a senior creative or strategist who would like to take part in a future Campaign Review, please email abigail@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.