Campaign Review: Optus’ missing charm, Telstra’s tiny budget and LG’s self-indulgent ad

Mumbrella invites the industry’s most senior creatives and strategists to offer their views on the latest ad campaigns. This week: Eardrum's founder, Ralph van Dijk and Nadia Ahmad, senior creative at BMF, offer their views on Optus' missed opportunity, PayPal's lazy executions, Telstra's lack of production budget, LG's self-indulgent ad and Westpac's disconnected radio campaign.

Brand: Optus
Agency: Optus
The Verdict: A stock standard corporate apology which missed the mark

Ralph van Dijk, founder, Eardrum, says:

Van Dijk: “They’ve ended up where they should have started”

“It’s hard not to get drawn into the broader debate about the strategy Optus took from the outset. In my opinion, they’ve ended up where they should have started; offering free access to help ease the broader population into the behavioural change of watching live sport on something other than their TV. Even as an avid Liverpool supporter, it took me a season and a half before I finally caved and took out an Optus contract in order to access the Premier League.

“As for the apology ad, apart from questioning how many people would have actually seen it, running this ad was definitely the right thing to do. Apologise, explain and rectify is the approach every PR company would recommend in these circumstances. However it reads like PR company also wrote the ad. Not only did it lack the charming tone of the UK’s KFC ‘FCK’ ad, the line; “We’re not perfect, but we are big enough to own up to our mistakes’ showed they couldn’t resist a little self-aggrandisement.”

Rating: 6/10

Nadia Ahmad, senior creative at BMF, says:

Ahmad: “They just sound like a stock standard, corporate apology”

“I respect brands that can admit when they’ve fucked up. How well they admit it, now that’s the true test. KFC’s ‘FCK’ ad is a finger-licking-good example of this; a clever idea that’s simply executed and integrates the product perfectly.

“These recovery-mode press ads from Optus on the other hand, don’t quite hit the mark creatively for me because they just sound like a stock standard, corporate apology. The strategic genius is offering all Australians free access to its sports channel for a month. Luring people in with freebies gets them hooked enough that they might stay a little longer. That reminds me, I need to cancel my free Foxtel trial that expired three months ago.”

Rating: 4/10

Brand: PayPal
Agency: Isobar Australia
The Verdict: Lazy ads which miss executional elements

Van Dijk says:

“I wanted to like this. The surreal set and the unconventional voice showed a determination to cut through. But those executional elements aren’t enough to sustain the campaign and ultimately it lacks the intrigue of a strong creative device.

“More concerning is that it feels a little low budget and for a brand that wants me to trust them with my vital statistics and more of my transactions, this is a problem.

“To reach time poor millennials, I’d be taking a more irreverent, faster paced approach with a healthy dollop of brutal honesty, similar to Fiverr’s 2017 campaign (https://youtu.be/g4GWVlHIWxc).”

Rating: 5/10

Ahmad says:

“Holding a mirror up to its audience who are sitting around busily scrolling Instagram, swiping left and exchanging Snaps with each other, is one way to get their attention. It will probably work for PayPal, but I believe these 15-second interruptions could have been better executed. I would have liked to have seen the agency own the theme of laziness and see how far they could push it. Instead, we have a couple of lazily crafted executions.”

Rating: 3/10

Brand: Telstra
Agency: The Monkeys
The Verdict: Too abstract with missing elements

Van Dijk says:

“I’m a big fan of the first Telstra Thrive ad (https://youtu.be/6zGytq7ckS8) featuring the impassioned voice of Slam poet champion Phil Wilcox and a Flight Facility soundtrack. It felt lush and important yet warm and emotional, even if ‘Thrive’ felt like a word better suited to the brief than the script.

“But the re-brand manages to look contemporary and big without chest beating. In this instalment, they’ve used many of the same quality ingredients but the message that Telstra is the network for Apple lovers gets a little lost. The visual metaphors look great (but I’d question the flash mob) but are too abstract. Compared to the poet’s read, I would have loved to hear Thelma covey more emotion and meaning out of her script. The end voice has no idea what he just said.

“BUT, the scale, music and mnemonic makes it unmistakably Telstra and that’s probably enough.”

Rating: 8/10

Ahmad says:

“Something’s missing here. I believe it’s the lack of a multimillion-dollar production budget, a world-renowned director, a talented famous person and perhaps the highest level of craft involved, that’s left us with this pear-shaped attempt of an Apple ad for Telstra.

“Having worked on a telco before, I’m sure there was a lot of pain involved for the agency, while smiling through gritted teeth. All you can do after this is brush your shoulders off, learn something, move on and forget this ever happened.”

Rating: 3/10

Brand: LG
Agency: Background CC
The Verdict: Random ad which was too self-indulgent

Van Dijk says:

“This is a brilliant ad. Unfortunately for LG it’s an ad for writer, director, producer Tim Kindler. Yes, the cinematography is stunning and the sparse sound design is perfect. Casting a sultry French voice over was also a good idea on paper, except de in-tree-ca-seas of her accent make it hard to follow and again, she doesn’t bring the words to life.

“I’m aware that my approach to marketing is more pragmatic than most, but this feels very self-indulgent. Because after all that investment in the craft you end up with a film that will do as much for a Kogan as it does for LG.”

Rating: 4/10

Ahmad says:

“I admire when clients are bold enough to try something different and we need it to happen more often. However, like most of those who watched this, I didn’t get to see it on an LG OLED TV. Instead, it was on my Apple MacBook laptop, which also acts as my TV, so I think they missed the mark on what they set out to achieve here.

“Overall, I found this short film a bit random. What I can appreciate though, is the craft. They managed to make the unflattering parts of Sydney look beautiful, design an equally beautiful sound mix and top it off with a seductive French narrator. This concoction had me intrigued for the first 30 seconds, which is a good thing given my short attention span.”

Rating: 4/10

Brand: Westpac
Agency: DDB
The Verdict: A disconnected ad

Van Dijk says:

“Westpac has done a great job repositioning the brand with the ‘Help. It’s what Australians do’ campaign. The similarities with the NRMA Insurance campaign are unfortunate, but the strategy is sound.

“So why undo all that great brand building work with such a disconnected radio ad? Even using the Hero’s soundtrack would have helped maintain the brand tone and conjure the images from the TVC. Switching saving accounts is a big ask, so why not suggest that by doing so, you’re not only getting a great introductory rate, you’re helping Westpac help others.

“But what annoys me most, is that if a campaign like this is deemed to be ineffective, they won’t blame the creative, they’ll blame radio.

“Welcome to my world.”

Ahmad says:

“Do people still listen to radio ads? Clearly they do because I’m judging one. Radio is hard to execute well because we’re tapping into people’s imagination. But, we’ve all heard these inception-style ads that hero the disclaimer voice before. Many times. And done better.

“Is this ad functional? Yes. Did the creatives want it off their desks so they could work on something more juicier? Most likely. Did they think it would get judged on a public forum? Probably not.”

Rating: 4/10

  • 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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