Campaign Review: MLA’s tired and tested strategy, Kia’s ‘nothing’ ad and Uber Eats’ tennis hit

Mumbrella invites the industry’s most senior creatives and strategists to offer their views on the latest ad campaigns. This week: Clemenger BBDO Melbourne's Stephen De Wolf and Digitas' Simon Brock offer their views on Meat and Livestock Australia's missing cultural tension, Uber Eats' smart and seamless integration, Mercedes-Benz Vans' misstep and Kia's confused campaign.

Brand: Meat and Livestock Australia
Agency: The Monkeys
The Verdict: Great production quality but it felt manufactured and contrived

Stephen de Wolf, executive creative director, Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, says:

De Wolf says: “The topic they were leveraging doesn’t have the true cultural tension the other campaigns did”

“What has always made me uncomfortable, in a good way, about the MLA spots, is their brevity in highlighting uncomfortable truths about Australian society. Executions aside, they’ve created great conversation and debate – important in the journey to overcoming prejudice, biases and difference. No mean feat for any brand.

“Does this year’s spot continue that legacy? For me it doesn’t. It does, however, maintain the production quality and finish we’ve come to expect. It even continues on tradition of leveraging the topicality of the moment. Only problem is the topic they were leveraging doesn’t have the true cultural tension the other campaigns did. Enter Tourism New Zealand and some quick-witted rebuttal to give this campaign a little bit of attitude in a way only true Kiwis can.”

Rating: 6/10

Simon Brock, creative director at Digitas, says:

Brock says: “The controversy feels contrived.”

“‘Unifying people over lamb’ is a tried and tested strategy that’s probably more relevant this year than ever before. We all know the spiel – politics are divisive, generation gaps run deep, filter bubbles insulate the ‘us’ and exclude the ‘them’.

“Past iterations of MLA’s Australia Day lamb ad have skewered those tensions, cranked the temperature and given them a proper roasting, sparking the kind of cultural catharsis that wins hearts and minds (and awards).

“But this one’s a different story. This time that tension feels manufactured. The controversy feels contrived. There are some excellent gags in there, and the notion of trying to fix Australia by adopting New Zealand is fun, but it’s missing that venom that made past campaigns so evocative.”

Rating: 6/10

Brand: Uber Eats
Agency: Special Group
The Verdict: A solid campaign which was both tactical and refreshing

De Wolf says:

“Uber Eats was the clear standout during the sponsorship noise of this year’s Australia Open – smart and seamlessly integrated into the programming.

“For me personally once I’d seen one, the rest became fairly expected. Very, very tactical and in the moment I’m not sure the campaign lives beyond its place in an ad break on television, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s just refreshing to see single-minded, smart use of the media channel.

“However smart this campaign is, it still demonstrates no matter how much you spend athletes are pretty terrible performers.”

Rating: 7/10

Brock says:

“I’m a fan of TV spots that bend the rules, and this campaign does a solid job of it. By cleverly contextualising Uber Eats’ celeb-powered Tonight I’ll be Eating platform and embedding the brand into the action, these spots were certain to attract eyeballs and attention spans. That may have come at the expense of upsetting a few diehard tennis fans, but you can’t order and omelette without cracking a few eggs.

“I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of these event-aligned integrations over the next year as more brands try to eek all the value they can get out of their sponsorships. That work will be delivered by brands and agencies who realise that advertising works best when we knock down the old walls between media, creative, data and tech.”

Rating: 8/10

Brand: Mercedes-Benz Vans
Agency: The Royals
The Verdict: An average idea well executed

De Wolf says:

“It’s not often you have the opportunity to work on a much-anticipated Australian model launch, effectively releasing a new category of vehicle – a luxury 4×4 ute. So how do you do it when Australians already love their utes? Seems strategically ‘sophistication’ was the answer. Makes sense. After all, Mercedes-Benz is one of the world’s best-known luxury car brands and is now releasing their version of a 4×4 Ute. Only the execution doesn’t quite land. Instead, using the tropes of traditional 4×4 advertising; off-road shots, powering through rivers and the outback with a little twist – driving away from the paparazzi.

“I think the paparazzi is an attempt at suggesting sophistication and luxury. Only thing is, I’m not sure how many potential buyers would make the link. If you’re not going to move away from the traditional 4×4, V6 ute imagery, it seems strange the design, tech and luxurious features that set it apart from the others in a saturated market don’t make an appearance in the spot.

“Perhaps what separates the Mercedes-Benz Ute from the others is showcased in other media channels, but one thing that does elevate it a little from the rest is the lovely production quality to the film.”

Rating: 5/10

Brock says:

“My first question with a category-busting vehicle like this is: who is it made for? I’m surprised we never get a hint of the person behind the wheel or the lifestyle the X-Class V6 is designed to deliver, which feels like a missed opportunity.

“The other obvious question – why deliberately associate a Mercedes with a paparazzi chase? The Princess Diana references are inevitable, and while I doubt many viewers will take offence, I suspect many will have the same jarring feeling as I did the first time I watched this spot. It’s not a good enough idea to be worth risk.

“An average idea, well executed.”

Rating: 6/10

Brand: KIA
Agency: Innocean Worldwide
The Verdict: An ad that had potential but communicates nothing

De Wolf says:

“If the ambition of this campaign is to reflect the drive and attitude of the all-new Kia Cerato GT, the audience might be left thinking it’s an upbeat, fun for all car, that’s just a little bit childish. The use of Rafael Nadal only reinforcing that outtake for me.

“The end line ‘get mean’ suggests otherwise. If you take a look at the car’s spec and what’s under the hood, it feels like a bit of a miss – this model could actually live up to what isn’t a bad line.

“All of that said, it was good to see the extension of the campaign fully exploit their sponsorship of the Australian Open, by taking over public areas and the online space to engage the audience in the idea. For me these extensions probably do more for the campaign than the TVC in lead creation, data capture and content creation.”

Rating: 5/10

Brock says:

“It’s loud, it’s abrasive and it communicates absolutely nothing about the Kia Cerrato. Quiet please.”

Rating: 3/10


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