Campaign Review: MLA plays it safe, Budget Direct spends big and Bankwest tries to break the mould

Mumbrella invites the industry’s most senior creatives and strategists to offer their views on the latest ad campaigns. This week: Clemenger BBDO Sydney's chief strategy officer, Lilian Sor, and Y&R Brisbane's Chelsea Parks, offer their views on MLA's new direction, Budget Direct's big gamble, Bankwest's anti-bank message and Subaru's attempt to pull at your heartstrings.

Brand: Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA)
Agency: The Monkeys
The Verdict: A questionable strategy that fails to differentiate lamb

Lilian Sor, chief strategy officer at Clemenger BBDO Sydney, says:

Sor says: “The strategy is the piece I question here”

“I left Australia when Sam Kekovich was still the Lambassador. A man who reminded us that there was nothing more Australian than lamb. That took the piss out of us and the current affairs around us because there’s nothing more Australian than taking the piss.

“But like the lock-out laws where a few ruined the fun for us all, lamb feels like it’s in the same conservative malaise as the country is.

“The Monkeys have done a great job at bringing the strategy to life of ‘it’s easy to bring people together over lamb’ in a humorous way. But the strategy is the piece I question here.

“This is the information age. An age where I don’t have to open or even own a recipe book to find a recipe. I can Google it, Instagram it, or if I’m well fancy, Alexa it.

“And culturally, Australians are more adventurous with their food, and are exposed to dishes from a multitude of places in real life and in culture. So showing Moroccan lamb or Kofta isn’t new news either.

“Communications from raw ingredient bodies (like the recent egg ad) that remind us that ‘We’re easy to cook’ or ‘Look how many things we can do with them’ I think miss the mark.

“Eggs, lamb, beef and chicken have been around forever (that’s no exaggeration). Telling people it’s easy or giving them a singular recipe idea in a world that saturated with them is the wrong problem to be solving.

“The problem to solve is, when there are so many things in the supermarket isle that someone can choose to cook, how do you get them to choose you? To feel good the instant they see you at a weird subconscious level and think that others will feel good about it too? Lamb was a brand that stood out by saying something about all of us who bought it. It was the Australian thing to do. Lamb’s now a brand that is at risk of saying nothing more than it’s easy, like every other brand in the supermarket.”

Rating: 6/10

Chelsea Parks, associate creative director at Y&R Brisbane, says:

Parks says: “These ads won’t be getting the keyboard warriors fired up”

“Lamb has mastered the art of provoking people. It’s not easy to step away from being controversial, especially when it’s part of your DNA, but they’ve managed to keep their personality and remain likeable. It’s also nice to see more shots of lamb in a lamb ad.

“These ads won’t be getting the keyboard warriors fired up but maybe that’s good a thing. There’s enough political spice in the news and on social media right now without us advertisers trying to elbow our way in and add to it.”

Rating: 7/10

Brand: Budget Direct
Agency: 303 MullenLowe
The Verdict: A risky ad which struggles to deliver a message or interesting thought

Sor says:

“I’m not sure that this ad has something to say. Budget Direct. ‘The cheaper insurance company’ is at it’s simplest what they need to convey.

“There’s two ways to do that: find a way of saying that they’re cheaper and better (e.g. Aldi) or take the Dolly Parton image strategy of ‘It takes a lot of money to look this cheap’ (e.g. JB
Hi Fi, Chemist Warehouse).

“Yet Budget Direct has chosen a strategic non-sequitur of creating a very expensive looking, very long ad, with no real message of why anyone should choose them. And it’s the ‘no real message’ that pains me more than anything else. With Captain Risky, at least the strategy was that we wouldn’t insure risky idiots to keep premiums down. And ‘Boo-jay boo-jay’ (pre-Aliens) was a low production piece with a strong jingle and an Aussie tongue-in-cheekness.

“I applaud the want to invest in advertising, the want to take risks, the want to differentiate themselves from a largely uninspiring category. But please, next time do it with an interesting thought at the core.”

Rating: 3/10

Parks says:

“Captain Risky was a good character for these guys. This campaign has been running for a long time so I can understand why they’d want to try something new. Aussies might miss him though.

“The style of this ad is suited perfectly for television. I definitely know one person who was watching some evening telly and thought this spot was a real trailer for a show. The ad looks expensive and would’ve been fun to make. There’s less product than in Captain Risky, but it’s still a good bit of storytelling.”

Rating: 6.5/10

Brand: Bankwest
Agency: WPP
The Verdict: The jury is still out

Sor says:

“A passable strategy, a terrible piece of communication.

“Our job is to help brands cut through the clutter and stand out, not only in message but in execution.

“Creating a film that lives online isn’t an excuse for delivering poorly conceived content. In fact, we should be more demanding of it as the fight for attention is greater and our task is to stop people hitting ‘skip video’ or scrolling to the next fun thing. And here Bankwest have underdelivered in three ways.

“Firstly, engagement. Vox pops superimposed with cartoon faces leaves me feeling flat. There are no highs and lows to the script, nothing to pull me in, nothing to keep me wanting to watch more. Yawn.

“Which leads to the second problem, length. It’s one-whole-minute long in a space where most creators land a point in five-seconds. That means I could have watched 12 other things in my feed in the time I watched this. Grr.

“But let’s say we find someone who is drawn to the visual style. Who has sat through more than five seconds on it. Third problem? Comprehension. Sarcastic vox pops juxtaposed with what the bank does in theory sounds good. In practice? Let’s say this is viewed with sound off (the majority of social films are). Sarcasm isn’t great in type. So then it just becomes much harder than it should be to understand…. and they’re meant to be a bank that makes things easy. Skip.

“Out of home? Better because it’s clear and to the point. But still largely forgettable.”

Rating: 4/10

Parks says:

“We’re living in a time where people are less and less willing to put up with their bank’s bullshit. The insight that customers just want their bank to do what they’re supposed to do, (that is, bank) and not get in their way is spot on.

“Post-Royal Commission disillusionment has hit an all-time high, so, yes, this will resonate with consumers. It’s nice to see a bank being honest about the role we want banks to play in our lives.
For me the execution that stands out most is the social film. The low-fi visual is different for a bank and well-suited for the medium.”

Rating: 7/10

Brand: Subaru
Agency: Disciple
The Verdict: A missed opportunity but a lovely storyline

Sor says:

“There was a time this year where I reviewed five briefs in a week that all centred around brands talking about ‘making moments matter’.

“It’s admirable to want to help people connect more as life gets busier. But brands like Subaru need to ask themselves how they actually do that in a meaningful, differentiated way day in day out. Otherwise, instead of helping a brand cut through, execution-ally ‘moments’ become vignette ads of everyday life, meaning more than ever these pieces of content blend with the rest.

“‘Do’ and Subaru’s vehicle range also have such an active spirit. It feels like a missed opportunity not to either play up the tension between ‘doing’ too much and missing the little things, or leaving moments behind and tapping into the explorer spirit of ‘Do’ to pull away from the rest of the category.

“Nevertheless, a lovely storyline that pulls at the heartstrings.”

Rating: 6/10

Parks says:

“Does it put customers at the heart of the ad? Yes. Will this ad make Australians feel like the brand cares? Probably not. But I doubt many Australians genuinely feel like brands care about them anyway.

“The ad is beautifully shot and the casting is lovely, but you might not need a Subaru to enjoy the little moments in life. Although, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to have one.”

Rating: 5/10

  • 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

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