Campaign Review: The battle of the telcos: Telstra vs Optus

Which telco released 'strategically confusing' ads, and which 'ticks all the right boxes'? In this edition of Campaign Review, Saatchi & Saatchi's Rebecca Carrasco and Ogilvy's Zac Martin offer their views on Telstra's attempt to take on 5G conspiracies, Optus' new brand positioning, and Barbeques Galore provoking the vegans.

Brand: Telstra
5G conspiracy theories
Agency: In-house
The verdict: Strategically confusing

Rebecca Carrasco, executive creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi Australia, says:

“If the idea is to take-on the myth-generating social videos causing issues for the brand, by planting myth-busting videos that poke fun at the problem and the more extreme concerns behind 5G, then I think it makes sense to stay in the medium, which works for that idea.

I believe the particular medium chosen was effective for this campaign. The idea works best when viewed in the same context as the broader conversation. While it comes from the Telstra brand, it is very much a 5G product message responding to a current social conversation and concern around the 5G offering, as opposed to being a long-term brand message.

This idea could work harder still if they’re able to retarget people who have already viewed the contrary messages.”

Rating: 7/10

Zac Martin, senior strategist at Ogilvy Melbourne, says: 

“I’m not quite sure why this exists. Is it an ad for Telstra, or a public service announcement? Are the 5G-anti-vaxxers a genuine problem for Telstra’s roll out? Will a comedic piece of branded content change their mind?

We know challenging someone’s beliefs by telling them they’re wrong can have an opposite effect, causing them to double down. Strategically confusing. The script has a few lols though.”

Rating: 5/10

Brand: Optus
It starts with Yes
Agency: Special Group New Zealand
The verdict: Potential to grow and be provocative

Carrasco says:

“This feels like a nice evolution from a big brand that probably doesn’t want to walk away from the equity it’s already invested in the attitude of ‘Yes’. It keeps what people know the brand to stand for, but gives it a new tone of voice that is human, optimistic and current.

Does the lack of branding throughout the ad come to the detriment of the message? Quite the opposite. I think that restraint does a good job of communicating confidence on behalf of the brand. It puts the message before other ownable assets, which allows the message (and the inherent brand purpose) to become an ownable asset itself.

This is a brand idea that requires a story to unfold in order to for us to connect to it, so film is definitely the right choice to launch an idea like this. However, I don’t think it’s the only medium this idea can live in.

I think the creative work has the capacity to work as a long-term brand message.

It will be interesting to see if this idea also activates in other channels. I think there’s potential for the brand to be provocative and engaging in how they might extend this idea over time.”

Rating: 9/10

Martin says:

“This ticks all the right boxes. We know brand building is most effective when it’s emotional. Make people feel something. Strange for Optus to call this a ‘new brand positioning’ when it feels like more of the same, in a good way. Great brands find new ways to repeat themselves. Making good work for telcos is hard (see above), so this is a winner.

90 seconds might be a little indulgent, especially without any distinctive brand assets until the logo reveal. Good thing 90 second ads only run on trade press.”

Rating: 7/10

Brand: Barbeques Galore
Now You’re Cooking
Agency: The General Store
The verdict: On to a good thing

Carrasco says:

“Vegetarianism has been used in a way that lands in favour of meat, so I guess the question is whether this ad will offend vegetarians or vegans, and cause them to dislike the brand. I can’t speak for everyone, but as a vegetarian, I’m fairly used to it being used to tell a joke.

The overall outtake is that BBQ’s Galore is there to serve your love of a great meaty BBQ. It simply reaffirms what we know about the brand and brings it to mind.

The spot is written to be a rug-pull narrative, so film does make sense for this campaign.

Veganism aside, juxtaposing a desirable BBQ against the sometimes undesirable social moments BBQs can be accompanied by, and using the line ‘Now You’re Cooking’ to show how you can come out on the right side of it, does have stretch to be campaigned.

I look forward to seeing how the vegan uses the BBQ to come out on-top of an awkward social moment in the next instalment.”

Rating: 7/10

Martin says:

“I thought Australia forgot how to make advertising this good. Distinctive, funny, insightful. Everyone hates back-seat-BBQers.

Bang out a few of these every year and you’re onto something great. The western theme feels a little out of place from ‘Australia’s leading retailer of BBQs’, but good to see a brand enjoying itself. Ads aren’t fun anymore. I miss BBQs.”

Rating: 8/10

  • As told to Zoe Wilkinson. If you’re a senior creative or strategist who would like to take part in a future Campaign Review, please email zoew@mumbrella.com.au

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