Campaign Review: Petbarn charms, Reflections Holiday Parks confuses and 7-Eleven splits

In Campaign Review, Mumbrella invites the industry’s creatives and strategists to offer their views on recent ad campaigns. This week: New Word Order's Scott Oxford and Archibald Williams' Bram Williams evaluate the recent campaigns from Petbarn, Reflections Holiday Parks, and 7-Eleven.

Brand: Petbarn

Campaign: “Life’s a Treat

Agency: BMF

The verdict: Fun and comforting like a good pet should be

Scott Oxford, founder and creative director at New Word Order, says:

So I live in a household with cats and a dog and while I’m the sucker who does all the dog walks, poo pickups and occasional feeding, I am also the one who moans constantly about the money spent on toys and treats and beds and stuff for said animals! Which means I live with the people these ads are targeting and I reckon they’ve nailed some of those nuances beautifully.

For me, the balance comes in calling out the unashamedly one-eyed commitment people have to their pets, while celebrating the quirky individuality of every pet owner (and their pet too of course). It’s fun and detailed and makes me want to watch more spots so the storytelling works.

The only thing I wonder about is the suggestion that pets are oblivious rather than obstinate, not caring rather than withholding care (which we know cats are famous for). This would fuel my argument against gratuitous pet goods spending by my family from Petbarn or anywhere! But I’d still get over-ruled.

Rating: 8/10

Bram Williams, co-founder at Archibald Williams, says:

They used to put aquariums in the waiting room at your Dentist, the idea being that tropical fish calmed you down before the drill got your blood pressure up. In a good way, that’s where my head goes when I see these ads.

Putting to one side the relatively well-trod ‘pets-are-now-more-important-than-people’ insight (which is, nonetheless, observed here with some nice attention to detail), what I really like about this campaign is the tone and pace: it’s calm. On the telly it delivers a welcome 30 seconds of the feeling of having a pet, just by the way it’s executed. And that feeling stands out in a pack of shouty or overly worthy ads in a break – and it makes me like Petbarn.

Also, congratulations to the client for investing in multiple executions and a proper media buy. I feel like I know this campaign – and I didn’t have to look it up to write about it.

Rating: 8/10

Brand: Reflections Holiday Parks

Campaign:The Holidays Are Calling

Agency: Iris Sydney

The verdict: Not unique to the brand

Oxford says:

If I ever need a reminder of how frustrating family life can be (and life in old age might be) then this campaign does that in a pretty effective way (the ‘kids in the car’ one raised my stress levels significantly while watching), and sets the tension up well so that brand can be the solution, the panacea to the grind of normality.

While the guy with the conch shell doesn’t quite make sense to me I do get he is the holiday caller, and an everyman, and his blast cuts through the noise to end with the exact calm we all want from a holiday.

I’m not sure the TVC alone connects with their exact product but like any campaign it’s bound to be integrated and I’d expect that’s where the work set by the TVC converts in a local sense. I do feel like I want to see them turn up at the holiday park and the ‘real’ conch guy is there running the place, sealing the deal that it isn’t just a holiday but it is only a Reflections holiday that is the panacea they need. But maybe that’s phase 2?

Rating: 6/10

Williams says:

I must apologise for not being aware of this brand nor this campaign, but I admire the willingness of Reflections Holiday Parks to advertise in such a way. And also for not trying too hard to sell us on everything they’ve got to offer. This decision allowed for simple storytelling bringing to life universal time-to-have-a-holiday truths with a quirky payoff. And it’s a payoff that with enough time and investment could become an asset for them.

In the interim, the simplicity of the campaign could potentially be double-edged; it’s basically doing a category job. And if they get me thinking I could use a holiday they’d have to get in my ear (or stalk me ‘round the internet) pretty smartly to answer “yeah, but why with them?”.

Rating: 6/10

Brand: 7-Eleven

Campaign: “Earn Velocity Points at 7-Eleven

Agency: CHE Proximity

The verdict: Split decision on a well-executed campaign

Oxford says:

As a man, I tend to loathe ads that have a dopey guy in them (and this one has two dopey-ish guys featured) but the girl isn’t necessarily portrayed as their superior and all three of them have an appeal I can’t quite explain, which means the writing, the casting and the direction are all in synch.

The execution is fun, even sweet, and I loved the focus on flying without showing a plane or an airport. You can see there’s a heavy emphasis, naturally, on the points program linking to the 7-Eleven brand, but a nice customer service subliminal with the guy behind the counter going above and beyond, doing his best for the customer even when she wasn’t making it any easier for him.

I’m imagining audiences will be intrigued by the relationship between the two phone callers and probably interested to see another instalment of their story. So I’d call it a success being it connects the points and store brands, enhances the customer service brand and adds some gentle comedy to the media space.

Rating: 8/10

Williams says:

Duets can be tough graft: for every ‘Islands in the Stream’ there’s the risk of turning in that vaguely confusing thing Metallica did with Lou Reed.

The brief here had that basic degree of difficulty, two brands coming together – coupled with a pretty average song to sing: an essentially rational story about points accumulation.

So it’s great to see all involved attempt to do justice to both 7-Eleven and Virgin by injecting some personality that feels like it could be remotely true of each brand. Problem is, it isn’t true-enough of either and the idea itself adds a further element to grapple with, that is the narrative device of the duelling points chasers. Now I’ve seen this campaign in the wild on high rotation over the past week (too much Beauty and The Geek) and I didn’t properly register the relationship between the characters (certainly not in the 15s), nor really what they were talking about, until now, when I studied the ads.

What did I take out of this IRL? It was an ad for 7-Eleven; it wasn’t as colourful and irreverent as I recall from 7-Eleven – and something vaguely about points.

So while there’s some nice writing and good performances here, unfortunately where it really counts it’s more miss than hit.

Rating: 6/10

  • As told to Anna Macdonald. If you’re a senior creative or strategist who would like to take part in a future Campaign Review, please email

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