Campaign Review: NRL tops the AFL’s launch, Suncorp’s new platform, and Dame Edna saves the meerkats

Mumbrella invites the industry’s creatives and strategists to offer their views on the most-talked-about ad campaigns. This week: The Works' Steven Sullivan, and Bastion Banjo's Ben O'Brien offer their views on the NRL and AFL's season launch campaigns, Audible tapping into when and where people listen, Dame Edna rescuing Compare the Market's meerkats, and Suncorp's new brand platform.

Brand: AFL
Campaign: Believe
Agency: In-house
The verdict: Lacking a core message

Steven Sullivan, senior strategist at The Works, says:

“It’s hard to miss the song, possibly polarising but certainly distinctive.

“I like how they converged professional and fan footage, nice moments creating a sense of social norms and signalling cultural relevance. Assuming key motivations for their audience are entertainment and social inclusion, the energy and footage make sense.

“The art direction added to the energy, but it was overwhelming by the end. I was unsure what I was supposed to ‘believe’ with the exhaustive list of references. Too many messages making the ‘Believe’ platform less meaningful and memorable.

“Overall, it’s okay.”

Rating: 6/10

Ben O’Brien, creative director at Bastion Banjo, says:

“I’m not a big fan of reviewing other peoples’ work. Stones and glasshouses and all that. So, I’ll just be honest and call it how I see it. Not every idea can be a short walk and a handshake.

“I’m confused by this AFL ad. If there’s an insight/ idea in there, I couldn’t find it. As far as I can see, it’s a hype reel of existing footage. I wonder what the brief was?

“If it was to appeal to AFL fans who know the backstory of all these little clips, then OK. I don’t know where this work appeared, so I guess that’s a possibility. I imagine these people feel suitably ‘hyped’. It would go down pretty well on big screens at an AFL function.

“But as someone who doesn’t follow the AFL, all I saw was text fighting with images. Action I didn’t understand with words that didn’t explain it. I didn’t know where to look and I ended up missing everything. If the brief was to attract and interest people like me, which I suspect it was, then I’m sorry, it’s a fail. A couple of points for the Baker Boy track.”

Rating: 2/10

Brand: NRL
Campaign: Simply the Best
Agency: The Monkeys
The verdict: Emotional and simple message

Sullivan says:

“Very memorable, bringing back an iconic and recognisable song works wonders for the many who recognise it. With such a powerful song, there’s no reason it can’t resonate with younger audiences too. An emotional and simple message. Makes the game feel exciting and meaningful.

“Clearly conforming with the subtle and not so subtle ‘inclusive’ signalling, but how well this will attract a new and more diverse audience I’m not so sure. This task needs more than one ad anyway and this sets the tone well.

“Good ad.”

Rating: 8/10

O’Brien says:

“OK, now we’re talking. I actually heard the folks on morning TV discussing this before I saw it. I know nothing about NRL, but I totally understood the insight on the first viewing. There have been moments in the history of NRL that are bigger than the sport. People grow up with it as part of their lives. Year after year it delivers moments that can become part of popular culture – both good and bad.

“Tina Turner was one of those moments (good and bad, remember?) So was Macklemore. I know who Wally Lewis is. And Mal Meninga. And I can see how, for a young fan, these iconic players can be pretty inspiring. What will this season bring? Better watch it.

“All up, it’s an ad based on a truth, delivered with an idea. It got people talking about the good and the bad. I liked it, well, apart from the sax player.”

Rating: 8/10

Brand: Audible
Campaign: Books that fit with real life
Agency: Emotive
The verdict: Creative could have been tighter

Sullivan says:

“Too literal of a demonstration. Smart to build memory structures around the relevant ‘where’ category entry points, but it felt too functional.

“Is multitasking the most motivating proposition? It was mentioned the average audiobook listener completes 22 books a year. Impressive. Inertia in starting and completing books is a big issue for many people and helping here creates real value.

“I would have played off this in relation to the functional, emotional and social progress people are seeking when they listen to audiobooks; entertainment, FOMO in getting ahead in life, identity, etc.

“Celeste has been great for her bushfire recovery efforts, but I don’t find her funny here.”

Rating: 4/10

O’Brien says: 

“This Audible ad is easy to review. It’s good fun stuff, made well. I’m sure the decision to use Celeste came long before a script was written, so well done on working with her style and not against it. I’m sure she’s on the top of the ‘relatable Aussies’ list right now, so a great fit with the insight that Audible fits reading into ‘real life’ (whatever that is).

“The ‘hard tea’ line is genuinely funny and delivered with perfect timing. Speaking of timing, the longer edit was a little… long. Could have done with a minor nip and tuck, but the shorter version felt pretty neat. But I’m just nit-picking. Well done on delivering a complex message in an engaging way. Works for me.”

Rating: 7/10

Brand: Suncorp
Campaign: That’s the Suncorp Spirit
Agency: Leo Burnett
The verdict: A strong use of true stories

Sullivan says:

“For any brand in finance or insurance you’ll find ‘trust’, ‘empowerment’, ‘confidence’ or ‘reliability’ in their brand pyramid. Different? No. Table stakes? Yeah. The ever-present challenge is how to achieve these outcomes while being distinctive.

“Initially the ad felt super cheesy, but that actually works in its favour when they reveal the real people. A nice technique to convey transparency, breaking the confines of acting with a sharp contrast to establish the authenticity of the message. It ended up being surprisingly believable.

“Good job.”

Rating: 7/10

O’Brien says:

“I’ve worked on a few banks and eventually the brief inevitably appears, ‘we truly care about our customers and their wellbeing’. It’s a tough one, because everyone in the room generally believes it to be true. The tricky part is convincing people outside the room. Sometimes, no matter how well written and well produced your campaign is, they just ain’t gonna buy it.

“This campaign is well written and very well produced. I like the idea of true stories, and the switch with real people at the end is pretty sweet. I believe the stories and my emotional side buys into it. Then the old logical part of the brain kicks in and I can’t help but feel I’m being sold a lie. Hang on… emotion is back. Maybe Suncorp are different? Maybe they really do care?

“This campaign is playing right in the danger zone. Too corny? Too earnest? Or just the right amount of pathos/ sincerity to convince me to change banks. Wouldn’t it be safer and more effective to just advertise our lowest rates or premiums? I guess time will tell, but I’m scoring this campaign high, because it takes the risk.”

Rating: 8/10

Brand: Compare the Market
Campaign: Hello Possums
Agency: VCCP
The verdict: A funny execution but lacking in brand messaging

Sullivan says:

“The classic example of characters as a distinctive and fluent device, makes a brand in a dull category easily recognisable and very memorable through creativity and emotion. There should be more of this.

“My only other thought, could they have been clearer on what they actually do while still being entertaining? No doubt this is resolved in other channels and much spend is targeted online. Still it’s quite effortful seeing Dame Edna, hearing ‘Hello Possums!’, processing they aren’t possums and therefore it ‘pays to compare’, with minimal reference to the brand name and service. Might not be motivating new customers if they don’t understand what you’re selling.

“Still a funny execution, hard not to like.”

Rating: 8/10

O’Brien says:

“There aren’t many campaigns these days that take three ads to pay off a joke. Talk about playing possum.

“It’s hard to be angry with these little meerkats and their campaign. It’s been going for so long that I guess they’re just part of the furniture. But maybe that’s a problem? The animation is really nice, the stories are cute and well written. Dame Edna! I get that ‘comparing things’ is important. By all accounts it ‘pays’. But what is it exactly I’m supposed to compare again? How do I save money again?

“I’ll give this the benefit of the doubt. There must be a piece of research somewhere that says, ‘Everyone knows that Compare the Market helps you get a better deal on a huge range of products. Don’t trouble yourself with explaining this right now… just have fun with meerkats and mention comparing things. She’ll be right’.

“But hang on. I’m a little worried that we’re in the business of convincing people, by bringing fresh insights and ideas to the table. This campaign may have become so subtle that it’s ineffective… against a lot of competition.”

Rating: 4/10


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