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Campaign Review: Honda’s ‘Keep ’em guessing’ and The Men’s Table ‘Aussie male gibberish’

In Campaign Review, Mumbrella invites industry creatives and strategists to offer their views on recent ad campaigns. This week, Mumbrella asked M&C Saatchi's strategy director Grace Wallace, and Adam Wise, co-founder and executive creative director at Jack Nimble, to assess Leo Burnett's first Australian-launched car campaign in 20 years, and The Hallway's latest work for men's mental health charity, The Men's Table.

Brand: Honda

Campaign: ‘Keep ’em Guessing’

Agency: Leo Burnett

The verdict: Clever launch strategy.

Grace Wallace, strategy director at M&C Saatchi, gave it an 8/10, saying:

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a little bit of a badge gal when it comes to cars, or despite it, but this is a win for Honda. They’ve captured the thing we’re all a little guilty of; whether it’s with cars or watches, Android or Apple, we all make assessments of people based on their material choices. But delightfully, this is delivered with some levity and frankly fun.

‘Keep ’em guessing’ as a line does a great job of tapping into people’s desire not to be pigeonholed and the now culturally elevated position of the enigma. Just look at your Netflix content for proof. To place control around identity back in the hands of the individual and luxuriate in the awkwardness of people flailing around trying to define you is both aspirational and enjoyable to watch creatively.

What’s more, this lighthearted mockery of ‘judgy neighbours’ cleverly positions Honda as part of the ‘new world order’ without explicitly saying it. It’s confident without being preachy and perhaps because I’m still a little ‘old school’ kept me watching right to the end thinking maybe we’d get a glimpse of the driver. Guess I’ll have to find one in the wild to see.

Adam Wise, co-founder and executive creative director at Jack Nimble, also gave it an 8/10, saying:

I love the insight here. Whether we like it or not, we always judge what other people drive, especially our neighbours. It’s a really clever way to launch the car because the concept gives you licence to blatantly show off the car the whole way through – it’s central to the joke.

The only thing is, in terms of selling the car, they’re relying purely on its looks, not its features. And I wouldn’t say it’s the most beautiful car in the world.

Regardless, it’s always nice to see a car ad that doesn’t include a dramatic shot of the car driving along Sea Cliff Bridge.

Brand: The Men’s Table

Campaign: ‘Go Beyond Banter – Australian Male Gibberish’

Agency: The Hallway

The verdict: Attention-grabbing and a good reminder.

Grace gave it a 6/10, saying:

Perhaps it’s my female position that meant this one almost lost me on first watch. Here we go again with yet another depiction of men who can’t talk to each other, spouting words like footy and BBQ. How predictable. But I have to confess the earnestness with which the guy struggles to find the right moment and words to share that he is not OK is so vulnerable and human that I am straight back in.

It’s a struggle experienced by so many men but also Aussies of all walks of life, and this universality really cuts through. The question ‘need a real conversation?’ just doubles down on this impact. I felt myself saying ‘yes! don’t we all?!’.

Unfortunately the brand name ‘The Men’s Table’ got a little lost in the banter for me but hopefully a quick Google of ‘beyond the banter’ takes men to the right place. Work that drives saliency for our brands is a must in our gig and perhaps not as strong as it could have been in this case.

That said, this misstep is recovered by the broader social impact of the spot. Intentional or not, the work reminds us all to check in with our male friends, in fact all our mates, not just throw around some banter. And let’s face it, ads that nudge behavioural change for such an important cause as mental health are always a good thing.

Adam gave it a 9/10, saying: 

This is one of those ideas I wish I’d come up with. It’s such a simple idea. It’s attention-grabbing. It makes you want to keep watching to figure out what the heck is going on. And then it hits you with a really simple and clear message at the end. They’ve balanced humour with a serious subject matter really well, which punches you right in the gut.

I know this was running at the Sydney Film Festival, but I can see a lot of potential for this idea in other channels as well. For social, it’d be a lot of fun to include gibberish subtitles baked into the video, and it’d be awesome to brief the concept out to creators to create their own gibberish languages as well.

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

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