Campaign Review: Gold standard strategy for Google, the verdict on Domuts and greyhounds, and have the meerkats outgrown the brand?

Mumbrella invites the industry’s creatives and strategists to offer their views on the latest ad campaigns. This week: Host Havas' Olly Taylor and Edge's Matt Batten offer their views on Google's 'Season in Search', CGU Insurance selling Domuts, whether the meerkats have outgrown Compare the Market, and Greyhound Racing NSW's image problem.

Brand: Google
A Season in Search
Agency: Emotive
The verdict: Gold standard strategy

Olly Taylor, chief strategy officer at Host Havas, says: 

“Some people really love Google and some people really don’t, but it’s safe to say that most people engage with a feel-good story. And this AFL one is just that. When you are a global behemoth being talked about more for data collection than empowering people, subtly positioning yourself as a conduit to good cultural happenings has to be a good thing? I suspect the creative community might say ‘it’s been done’, but to my mind this is gold standard global strategy delivered locally with authenticity and emotion. This strategy should run and run and when you are on to something like this you need a good reason to move away from it.”

Rating: 8/10

Matt Batten, executive creative director at Edge, says:

Matt Batten_M360 2018_ Close-up

“Those who know me know I’m not a sports fan. But this spot did get close to stirring some emotions when it touched on topics that hit a nerve for me: Tayla, racism, equality. But, I only got that far through the ad because I was asked to. It’s overly long. I’m confused as to whether it’s wanting me to feel something for footy or for ‘straya or for the Googs, all of which leaves me feeling very little for any of them.

It’s possible the execution is more interesting and emotional than the actual idea or strategy.

But do Google need to advertise their search function? Let me just Google that… Probably not. Which makes this a communication trying to link a global tech brand with a cultural wave. Google wasn’t the catalyst for change here. I think they call that woke-washing.

That said, it’s nice, but it won’t make anyone Google more or less.”

Rating: 7/10

Brand: CGU Insurance
Campaign: Ambition Wanted
Agency: The Monkeys
The verdict: Leaves the viewer wondering “what just happened?”

Taylor says: 

“The strategy and brand idea of Insuring Ambition is spot on. I can’t think of a better or fresher one for the insurance category. It takes all the category clichés of ‘help’ and ‘we’ve got your back’ and delivers them without saying it. It’s a long term platform with bags of potential that could stand CGU out as an insurance brand with ambition itself. No doubt this idea will grow over time but I did feel the launch could have worked a bit harder to land what is an excellent thought. The Domuts AFL Grand Final spot is a little abstract and the outdoor a little plain, whereas the activation of revitalising dead retail spaces was great. I expect there’s more and better executions to come out of this Insuring Ambition and hope it’s a long term play as it feels like this could be benchmark idea for the category.”

Rating: 9/10 for strategy, 7/10 for creative

Batten says:

“This is so over-indulgent that it becomes ineffective. I saw the extended version (yes, there’s an even more over-overindulgent one than this!) in the cinema last week and heard all the commentary around me from my fellow non-industry movie-goers.

I’ll let them provide the critique (verbatim):
“What the actual fuck?!”
“I don’t know what just happened.”
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
And a bunch of muttered expletives.

Strategically, it’s solid thinking: don’t just talk about our support, show it by spending our marketing budget on a third-party that needs it. I’ve worked on this exact same campaign idea for other brands with way less cash than this. The most expensive example is what Intuit Quickbooks did for Death Wish Coffee with a Super Bowl ad. Unfortunately, ‘Domuts’ is so esoteric that it requires more explanation than is provided and leaves the viewer wondering “what just happened?”

By comparison, the “Ambition Wanted” outdoor – which feels very disconnected from the Domuts ad – is genius. To make use of the empty shop fronts as disruptive new media/OOH, is a clever approach and better ties to what CGU is conveying.”

Rating: 5/10 for the Domuts TVC, 9/10 for OOH

Brand: Compare the Market
Campaign: Possum Problems
Agency: VCCP
The verdict: It’s time to move on from the meerkats

Taylor says:

“The Meerkats campaign was, in its heyday and hometown, an advertising phenomenon. It just feels like maybe that heyday has passed. I wonder whether it has to spent too much time ‘Australiansing’ itself to be worth the persistence. No doubt the tracking says a different story, but personally I was just left a little baffled by what was going on, and more importantly why. Sometimes the talent outgrows the campaign and it’s time to move on?”

Rating: 5/10

Batten says:

“I saw the original meerkats campaign while working in London. It not only worked there, it made sense because they spent a long time explaining the relevance of the meerkat pun, building the characters of Sergei and Aleksandr, and establishing their unique proposition, before they started letting it have a life of its own. So, while these ads are every bit as good as their UK forebears, the characters and the brand haven’t been properly established in Australia.

It’s a tough brief, though. I can imagine the client wanting to achieve the same traction their UK overlords achieved but in one-tenth of the time.”

Rating: 6/10

Brand: Greyhound Racing NSW
Campaign: Poetry in Motion
Agency: Bastion Banjo
The verdict: Fails to solve the image problem

Taylor says: 

“This is one of those client briefs that make you nervous. They are fascinating because they are challenging, but they are worrisome because sometimes there’s only so much a campaign can do. No campaign can turn a greyhound into a horse. You can imagine the industry, its fans and stakeholders loving this, but I’m just not sure that cynics would change their view. The strategy of taking what works so well for horse racing makes sense on paper, but there are times when you see the work the strategy produces, and it’s time to re-think the strategy. On reckoning, I’m not sure this work answers the greyhound racing image problem that it was trying to solve.”

Rating: 5/10

Batten says:

“I’d like to say, “The ad is horrendous but the brand is even worse”, however, I have a duty to professionally critique the strategy and creative communications without bias…

Coming off a scandalous period of media coverage for this industry that revealed animal cruelty, mass killings and live baiting – and only 5 months after the NSW Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission found almost 40% of racing greyhounds ended up dead from disease, injury or euthansia – it’s not strategically rational to put the brand back into mainstream advertising. It would be more frugal, effective and sensible to use more discreet channels to directly target the 4% of Australians (predominantly men aged 30-64) who regularly gamble on horse and dog racing, thereby minimising any potential backlash.

But, this ad is clearly trying to reach two audiences: those who punt on the dish-lickers; and the 82% of Australians who want the ‘sport’ banned. For the latter, the ad is trying to make greyhound racing appear elegant, championing the athleticism of these majestic creatures. I’m not a betting man, but I bet that’s a battle that cannot be won.”

Rating: 2.68/10 – because that’s the number of greyhound deaths per day following the repeal of the proposed ban.

  • 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

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