Campaign Review: Are in-house creatives worth the hype?

In-house creatives are under fire this week as Town Square's chief strategy officer, Jeff Malone, and Circul8's creative strategy partner, Phil Watson, take a look at Sportsbet's and Specsavers' newest work.

In Campaign Review, Mumbrella invites industry creatives and strategists to offer their views on recent ad campaigns.

Brand: Sportsbet

Campaign: ‘Make Spring Look Easy’

Agency: In-house

The verdict: Good idea, but the execution falls short.

Other assets: Craig Call Up King CampbellGladys the Rock JohnsonMaxy the Mate MustererTee Time Tim Callaghan

Jeff Malone, chief strategy officer at Town Square, gave it a 3/10 and said:

SportsBet’s campaign feels like it’s trying to be a bit of everything, but the whole never amounts to anything more than a jumble of disparate parts. And unfortunately, the parts don’t fare much better when judged on their own merits.

The characters, meant to be relatable and humorous, are reduced to caricatures that fall short of both, and the app’s proof points are presented like bullets in a keynote that are forgotten as soon as the slide changes.

Compared to TAB’s recent ‘national sport’ campaign, which was built from a clever insight, Sportsbet’s latest effort feels particularly hollow.

Of course, reviewing gambling advertising while ignoring the ethical debate around it is sort of like asking a galley slave what he thinks about the job, calisthenics-wise. Whether it works or not is missing the bigger issue.

Phil Watson, creative strategy partner at Circul8, gave it a 6/10 and said:

First of all I have to declare some bias here. Circul8 is purpose driven, we do the opposite kind of work to Sportsbet: gambling harm reduction campaigns.

So to avoid being called out, this is a professional viewpoint, not my personal stance. Well, mostly.

Woke signalling done, I’ll say that this is an OK campaign. I’m not sure if punters think spring is hard so not sure the ‘makes spring look easy’ theme means much, or was necessary, but overall the ads are amusing and likeable enough, the app features and branding are clear.

The ‘characters’ idea feels pretty familiar and these are the kind of scripts that could have turned out horribly cringeworthy but they’re generally not, credit to the creatives and director.

The astonishing amount of money being poured into gambling ads at the moment is probably due to fear of the legislation around the corner. The battle for being the ‘top app’ on punter’s phones is being fought while the ad spend can still swing it.

The thing is, all the sports betting ads basically feel the same, with the same characters, same tone, same style. Ironically, nobody is taking a gamble on being a bit more distinctive.

Maybe risk doesn’t pay and the gambling companies are inadvertently telling you something they don’t want you to know. Or maybe they’re not that great at marketing. I’m OK with both possibilities.

Brand: Specsavers

Campaign: ‘High Definition Sound, Low Specsavers Price’

Agency: In-house

The verdict: Delivers a clear product message, but misses the iconic and beloved Specsavers flair.

Jeff gave it a 6/10 and said:

This does the job it sets out to do and does it pretty well. It’s not breaking new ground and won’t be on anyone’s ‘Year in Review’ listicle, but it doesn’t need to.

If it can connect with its audience, present the problem and convince people it has the answer, it’ll sell. You’ve got the repetitive ‘blah, blah’ device that’s unexpected enough to jolt people out of the auto-pilot they’re usually on as they passively endure ads.

There’s the tension that steadily builds to keep people’s attention and dramatise the problem. And finally, a clearly presented solution that’s just as relevant for those with hearing loss as it is for their loved ones. I wouldn’t want to see it more than once, but that’s all it needs to get its point across to its audience.

As a product spot it works. But as a Specsavers campaign, I was surprised it had none of the tone and personality that have made the brand’s ads so iconic for a generation. Surprised and a little disappointed if I’m being honest. Not because of what this campaign is, but what it could have been.

Phil gave it a 6/10 and said:

The PR blurb for this uses words like ‘disruptive’ and ‘platform’ but that’s not what I’m seeing in the actual ad. To me, it’s a tried and tested problem and solution type of ad, with a memorable hook and a functional offer. An approach that’s been successfully used since advertising began.

That’s if you can hear it.

And that’s where I start to wonder if the blah is being cut through. If the audience is watching TV, they must be able to hear it right? So is solving hearing the issue? Should they have focused more on low cost than a category message? Or targeted the loved ones of those who are going crankily deaf?

Is the real news here just that you can now get hearing aids from the same brand you trust to get your specs from? Could there have been a funny, super well branded play on their famous ‘should have gone to Specsavers’ line?

And if people actually are living in a world of blah due to their dodgy hearing wouldn’t another media not reliant on sound have been better? Could this have made wonderful print or outdoor?

Despite the questions, its pretty well executed. The ad delivers a clear message, it’s not annoying, and it looks aspirational in a lifestyle stock shot kind of way. I imagine it’s important to people who need hearing aids that they don’t have to feel unattractive, so it’s probably a good idea to look appealing, if a bit unrealistic.

Overall summary: in-house is definitely not shithouse this week. Both these campaigns are OK, plenty of agencies would do similar work and be proud.

As told to Lauren McNamara.

If you are a senior creative or strategist who would like to take part in a future Campaign Review, please email Lauren at


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