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Campaign Review: final round of vax ads from AAMI, Aus Gov & TAB

In Campaign Review, Mumbrella invites the industry’s creatives and strategists to offer their views on recent ad campaigns. This week: Mumbrella has asked Host/Havas' Alyce Cowan and The Royals' Kevin Pease to evaluate the recent vaccination campaigns from AAMI, the Australian Government and TAB.

Brand: AAMI

Campaign: Vax Up Australia

Agency: Ogilvy

The verdict: Nostalgic but falls short

Alyce Cowan, planning director at Host/Havas, says:

Apparently you need to hear something seven times before you’ll take action but given current vaccination rates I think it is safe to say it’s a lot more than seven for some. So, as someone who misses the pub, I appreciate any brand willing to make vaccination reminders. However, as someone responsible for helping brands tell their stories, I have a different view.

Brands investing in vaccination messages should have a business-critical reason to do so. Which sounds obvious, except for the many brand examples that didn’t. For AAMI, who are in the business of recovery, this spot makes complete sense. Paired with an initiative that provides free Roadside Assist for first responders, hospital staff and healthcare workers during the pandemic, this spot clearly showcases AAMI’s ongoing support of getting Aussies back to normal.

Where it falls a little short for me is the execution. At this stage of the vaccination roll-out, creative cut-through, often in carrot or stick form, is needed to shake people out of their inertia. While there’s not a carrot or a stick in sight – instead a message to ‘vax up’ in the spirit of togetherness that feels too gentle of a nudge eight months after the vaccination roll-out began – what it does have is cut-through. As a “millennial” who is “on social and doesn’t watch free to air TV” I first saw this ad on social, where it was posted by several news outlets who were pumped about the latest chapter in the Rhonda and Ketut story. While these stories recapped the great love story and new baby, they also talked about the need to hit vaccination targets. So, while I question the effectiveness of this spot on directly motivating change, it did a good job at motivating conversation.

Rating: 6/10

Kevin Pease, creative at The Royals, says:

Like all Australians, I have been waiting with bated breath to see the return of Rhonda and Ketut. Unfortunately, it comes in the form of a Covid spot. A Covid spot that doesn’t really offer a new perspective to consider about vaccination or a compelling argument about why people should.

Maybe the couple could have been separated by international borders? The film could have shown both of them getting vaccinated so they can be together again? This would have at least created a reason to get vaccinated. One we can all resonate with. Which is what I feel the spot lacks, a motivating factor beyond just telling people to get vaccinated. It doesn’t create any emotional incentives nor does it have a strong idea that people can latch onto.

The film does have some nice shots, looks good, and some nostalgia inducing former characters, which I know is a genuine production feat right now. And it will create some positive feelings for the brand among those who agree with the message. Plus, any brand spending money to help move the needle, pun intended, is good, but not sure this will convince anyone who hasn’t got the jab to go and do so.

Hopefully this isn’t the final curtain call for Rhonda and Ketut and we can see them again in all their glory. As soon as international borders open, I think another spot in Bali is in order to celebrate the occasion. Rhonda, skin glowing red like a can of Bintang, Ketut sucking back a Flaming Rhonda cocktail.

Rating: 3/10 Sunrises

Brand: The Australian Government

Campaign: ‘First Things First

Agency: BMF

The verdict: Good message but bland creative

Cowan says:

Getting the country to mass vaccination rates is a huge responsibility. So, having watched this spot, do I now feel confident that as part of this effort, this campaign is going to light a fire under those yet to be vaccinated? In a word, no.

At this point in the vaccination roll-out, again, it’s only fair to acknowledge that creating behaviour change is, well, a slog. People have heard the same message repeatedly and as familiarity fatigue sets in, people are tuning out. Couple that with government stakeholders who want to talk to everyone and offend no one, there’s little room for the agency to create stand out communications.

And that’s what I would say, has happened here. These communications do a job of acknowledging the things people have missed the most: travel, sports matches and going to restaurants but they miss a creativity opportunity to hit the public where it hurts: the feels. They lack much emotion, nostalgia or connection, especially when you compare this work with something like the Qantas ‘Be Rewarded’ spot which made me want to cry and immediately book a ticket somewhere. In the same way, this work could have stirred up the kind of ‘tell them at dinner’ stories you bring up when thinking about the best concert or trip you went on. That would have been a powerful driver for a vaccination for many – but unfortunately, they didn’t quite get there.

Rating: 3/10

Pease says:

I live in Melbourne and am exponentially more emotional than usual as we stare down the 3000th week of lockdown and therefore more susceptible to manifestos. Just keep that in mind for this review.

This film has what the AAMI spot is missing. Each scene shows a reason to get vaccinated. And it hits the right spots. I crave the experiences shown and desperately want to get back to them. So for those of us who are living through lockdowns, I think it works. It covers a lot of ground and captures the desire people have to be able to just do trivial tasks and have grand adventures. It’s a good reminder of what we’ve lost and what is at stake. I’m ready to double dose a double vax if it will speed things up.

I’d be interested to see if success differs between the two versions in the different states. I’m not positive people who aren’t locked down will feel the same as people who are. For the states not in lockdown, the idea that they could lose freedoms seen in the ad, which they’re currently enjoying, doesn’t feel as strong. After all, we are more susceptible to loss aversion. I think a powerful idea is required to convince the remaining unvaccinated people in open states. Something more compelling than what could feel like an empty-ish threat to people whose lives have generally been less affected by Covid.

I should also address the giant elephant in the room. This ad is seven months late. Which is obviously no fault of the agency, but it will play a role in how it is perceived. The vaccination roll-out is itself partially to blame for why a lot of Australians are still in lockdown and unvaccinated. Which this spot completely ignores. Understandably. People may resent the messenger so much that they ignore the message. The federal government is kinda damned if they do advertise and damned if they don’t advertise.

Rating: 6⅝/10 AstraZenecas

Brand: TAB

Campaign: ‘#JabForYourLocal

Agency: M&C Saatchi

The verdict: Split decision

Cowan says:

For the second time in this article I feel the need to state how much I miss the pub. I even miss the weird carpet. So, despite its ability to tick off some over-used Covid-19 advertising criteria: manifesto, soft music, moody art direction, this TAB spot did a good job at stirring up some of my FOMO about getting back to it.

As a brand that thrives on people coming together, mostly at live venues, TAB has a clear reason to be one of the many brands investing in vaccination comms. This spot, while slightly familiar, is simple. It lands a motivation about getting people back to what they miss – the pub – while also playing on people’s collective desire to act for the benefit of those missing work. Then we’ve got TAB to JAB … it’s catchy, memorable and was surely a great proactive brief just waiting to happen? Although it’s now shared by NAB who, with possibly less of a reason to do so, has changed the brand name for the time being.

But, the brutal simplicity of this spot is, in my opinion, the downfall for TAB. It has such a clear-cut message about wanting to get back to the pub that it is painfully obvious why TAB has started this conversation. While online gambling has increased during the pandemic, research shows the industry has lost out on billions from gambling in pubs and clubs. So of course TAB wants you to get back to the pub it needs to fuel the Australian gambling habit – a pandemic of their own.

An ode to the pub isn’t the right space for TAB, or any gambling brand now; it should be left to the beer brands – like CUB who have executed a similar strategy beautifully with their own tribute to the pub. It even mentions the sticky carpet.

Rating: 5/10

Pease says:

The film is really nice. Every scene is lit so wonderfully, each shot has its own sense of atmosphere and wonder. The slow camera push into the still night does a great job of making everything feel almost magical, yet empty, and lonely. Which takes the audience from enjoying the scenery of the ad to softly reminding them that they’re in fact not here at the pub, and can’t go to their local right now.

The music and the sound design adds to this overall mood nicely, too. It gave me a feeling of longing, an emotional driver to get vaccinated. Which I think others will feel too. And I don’t even go to the pub, because I am cheap, but now I miss it. I miss the neon lights. I miss smoke bombing early. I miss dodging my shout. Most importantly, I miss the people who I’d be there with. Which this spot evoked in me by drawing me in rather than shouting it at my face in an obvious way.

The name change of a brand is always a huge deal and usually a really hard sell, so kudos to the client and M&C Saatchi for making it happen.

However, from this press release I am a little confused if it is a full blown mass roll-out that will be seen across the majority of their storefronts and physical branding? Or if it is just the design mockups seen in the social post and their online presence that changes? Tab’s Instagram handle is still Tab. So it is a little hard to ‘review’ that side of things.

Obviously the scale of the roll-out will directly affect the reach and impact the campaign has. Either way, it still helps the film feel bigger than just a film, and makes it feel like Tab’s got a little bit of skin in the game with us through all this.

The social extension – share the Jab logo with a picture of your own vaccine shot – seems like a big ask of people. Not sure how many, if anyone will get involved in this, but it doesn’t take away from the campaign, just don’t think it adds much either.

Rating: 8/10 pints at the Merc

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

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