Campaign Review: Schwarzkopf’s nonsense, Foxtel’s terrible example and McDonald’s cheesy local adaptation

Mumbrella invites the industry’s most senior creatives and strategists to offer their views on the latest ad campaigns. This week: JWT's head of planning, Simon McCrudden and M&C Saatchi's offer their views on Schwarzkopf's nonsense, McDonald's Australian adaption which didn't add anything, Foxtel's strategy miss and an ad that hit the right tone for the Tampon Tax.

Brand: Schwarzkopf
Agency: Schwarzkopf
The Verdict: A meaningless, generic and untrue ad

Simon McCrudden, head of planning, JWT, says:

McCrudden says the ad is meaningless and untrue

“This advert is total nonsense in every regard. The assertion that all memories are hair related is self-evidently not true. The benefit of Schwarzkopf is hair care not life memories. And this style of execution has been seen and done a thousand times before – the highs and lows of going through life with Brand X inserted into it.

“This is another example of a brand trying to imbue deeper meaning and importance into their product, but in doing so becomes so far removed from the reality of what they sell that it becomes meaningless.

“My only recommendation would be to start again, and this time think about something that is true about hair care that you can create a distinctive campaign for, rather than starting with something untrue and then writing a generic ad for.”

Rating: 0/10

Justin Graham, chief strategy officer at M&C Saatchi, says:

Graham says the ad has a messy middle where no brand wants to be

“The ambition of associating positive life moments with Schwarzkopf is a good one. And while the line ‘all memories are hair related’ was likely on the brief, I can see sort of* where they are going. But this ad does is about as positive as my mid-’90s undercut… Why so dark!?! As someone who has had some questionable cuts over the years, surely you want your brand associated with the ‘good hair days’ not just bad ones.

“As a reviewer, I have viewed the ad more times than anyone anywhere. And I am still perplexed. Either you dramatise the ‘good days with the bad haircut’ which doesn’t make sense for a hair brand, or you dramatise the ‘good days with the good hair’ which I don’t believe is a truth. As many women in the office agreed.

“Further, the execution seems stuck between a fashion ad and a piece of branded storytelling i.e. Kenzo or Corona. The messy middle is not where a brand wants to be. It’s trying to do a lot and ends up simply perplexing the viewer, well maybe just this viewer. There is something in that line though!”

Rating: 3/10

Brand: McDonald’s
Agency: DDB
The Verdict: The local adaption didn’t add anything to the original UK ad

McCrudden says:

“McDonalds has a long history of producing nice observational, human-insight based advertising, and this execution is no different. As an execution, it has charm, the performances are good, and it’s a relief to see something different from the fast food norm.

“That said, the problem is that it really has nothing to do with the ‘We’re coffee people’ positioning. The original UK ad – which this is a scene-by-scene remake of – was a brand spot, and as such made more sense. It feels as if the local team in Australia liked the emotion of the UK ad but needed to promote McCafe and have forced the two together. The result is an ad that is cute but doesn’t land the coffee expertise positioning.

“The 30 second ad does this more directly, but is hackneyed and cheesy.

“Whilst originality should be king, I don’t think it’s necessarily a problem adapting overseas work. ALDI Australia did this well with their local interpretation of the ‘Like brands only cheaper’ work, which was taken from the UK campaign.

“The problem with the McDonald’s example is that the local team haven’t really added anything to the original, and indeed have used it to try and launch a coffee expertise positioning which wasn’t the original intention of the execution.

“We’re coffee people’ is a big claim for McDonalds, but has the potential to be a long-term platform, provided that the experience matches the promise.”

Rating: 60 second ad 6/10 and 30 second ad 4/10

Graham says:

“I first saw this on the telly and loved it. My kids are getting a bit older, but when I watched the ad sitting on my couch, after dinner, it brought back a bucket load of late night memories (not always positive) But a great example of matching content with context, well done creative and media agency.

“It’s real, the strategy plays in the rituals space (a powerful place for Macca’s to play) and the execution delivers a great example of storytelling. If the strategy is to find real moments where the brand can play a role in peoples lives above product, then it feels like there is a lot of runway left here. McDonald’s is at its best when it can own rituals and this ad is a great way in on a core product line they are clearly building credibility around.

“On the question of ‘copying’ another agencies ad, I have a clear view on this. It is a McDonald’s ad, by the looks of it a highly successful one. Our industry needs to get better at using insights and creativity in all forms to inspire our work to be better. A practice that is revered in architecture, design and visual arts. But this is a separate issue, the case of the sleep-deprived ad simply looks like a well-crafted localisation exercise. Localising good ads isn’t a crime, localising bad ones is…”

Rating: 9/10

Brand: Foxtel
Agency: DDB
The Verdict: A terrible example of justifying price

The static version, which appears on the Foxtel website

McCrudden says:

“This is a tough brief to work on. How do you sell a product that feels outdated and clunky, in a market with dynamic, ‘cooler’ and cheaper competitors? Well, I don’t think you do it by focusing on price; particularly when you are so much more expensive than everyone else.

“This focus will work against them as $4/day doesn’t represent good value in this day and age. And the ‘cheaper than a cup of coffee’ approach invites people to easily work out for themselves just how expensive it is every month.

“An alternate approach would be to focus on the range and choice Foxtel provides. If Stan and Netflix have a weak spot I would suggest it’s their limited range. For every Stranger Things or Fauda, there’s a lot of rubbish you have to wade through. Foxtel could focus on the limitless amount of quality global programming they have to tackle their new competitors.

“Then, when you hit people with the price premium, they will at least be a bit more prepared to pay for it. But, even this feels like a band-aid. The question is how much longer can Foxtel keep charging this much money for content that people can get cheaply or freely elsewhere? But that’s a question that can’t be answered by an ad campaign.”

Rating: 4/10

Graham says:

“As the last human in Australia still watching Super Rugby on Foxtel, the brand owns a positive spot in my sporting heart. In fact, the TV at the Graham residence rarely dances from its lock on Fox Sports… But this spot doesn’t further the love. And clearly, I am not the not the target market!

“The task – convince rusted on FTA and streaming customers to re-evaluate negative price perceptions and sign up to Foxtel. In the immediate advertising era post the GFC, every brand worth its salt was running at value-based communication. There were some terrible examples of justifying price, as well as some very campaigns by the likes of Hyundai and Target in the US. Unfortunately, this is the former for me.

“The humble ‘cup of coffee’ has been compared to the price of newspapers, digital subscriptions, gym memberships and now it seems a premium entertainment product. It’s a slippery slope and the bottom of the pyramid stuff. But hey, it just might work!

“For me, there is an opportunity for the ads from entertainment providers to be as entertaining as the product itself. Our sister agency in New York did some brilliant work for HBO a few years ago promoting Game of Thrones The work was as good as the show (no easy feat) and not surprisingly it drove subscriptions. As I stated upfront, Foxtel is increasingly a good product, show it off!
And what about the rebrand? Short-lived.”

Rating: 5/10

Brand: Tampon Tax
Agency: Bauer Media’s Story54
The Verdict: The right approach with a clever tagline but the campaign had too many messages

McCrudden says:

“To declare up front, I support this cause so naturally am more inclined to think the ads are good. And I think reframing GST as ‘Gender Selective Tax’ is quite clever. I’d like to see that highlighted more in the execution as it becomes a bit lost down the bottom.

“Overall, I think the starkness and directness of the imagery and message is appropriate for the cause. Another strategy would have been to use humour, or to be even more challenging around the gender discrimination point, but I think tonally they have struck the balance well. I suspect the design and art direction approach could be improved as it does look a little bit like it’s been done in powerpoint, but I’m a planner so what do I know?

“Ultimately, it’s an appropriate cause for Bauer to support, and I imagine the ads will have stood out on their channels.”

Rating: 7/10

Graham says:

“A noble effort against a tax that has certainly generated a lot of press over the last year. The approach is right. Build emotion across both genders through a highly politicised creative strategy.
The execution falls down for me. Just too many messages.

“Planners love a message hierarchy, what’s the one thing to say etc etc… In this case, it looks like they didn’t have time to write a short story so they wrote a long one instead. ‘I agree’, ‘No Gender Selective Tax’ and ‘bloodyannoying.com’ don’t seem to come from the same place. I went to bloodyannoying.com and it seems the intent of the statement is a shareable hashtag, which then makes me think the communication is intended to generate a movement of sorts on social, as well as signing the petition. The pointed play on GST (Gender Selective Tax) is the message to punch you in the balls, clear and takes a side. This is politics after all!

“So by no means a bad campaign. I applaud Bauer for using their weight and voice to drive awareness of the issue. Just needed to say one thing, well.”

Rating: 6/10

  • 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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