Campaign Review: The verdict on Carlton Dry, Stan, Tourism NT and Australian Defence Force

In this series, Mumbrella invites the industry's most senior creatives and strategists to offer their views on the latest big marketing campaigns. This week: Gavin Chimes, associate creative director at Marcel Sydney, and Siobhan Fitzgerald, creative at The Monkeys.

Brand: Carlton Dry
Agency: Clemenger BBDO Melbourne
The Verdict: A rational ad which has a “tight and punchy” script but strays too far from the product

In its first major campaign in years, Carlton Dry asks Australians to ‘underthink it’ when making social decisions such as whether to give a person a hand shake or a hug.

Gavin Chimes, associate creative director, Marcel Sydney, says:

Chimes: “The writing is tight and punchy, and the casting is great”

“I’m an over-thinker. I spend way too long agonising over the smallest things. What to order for dinner, what movie to watch, whether to wear socks that match my shoes or my pants. So, the strategy of ‘Underthinking It’ really speaks to me. While this is a lot more rational than Carlton Dry’s ‘Hello Beer’ campaign, I think a lot people will like the ads. There’s a truth to each spot. They capture the realities of modern-day social situations. The writing is tight and punchy, and the casting is great. It would have been interesting to see what the agency would have done with a bigger budget.”

Siobhan Fitzgerald, creative at The Monkeys, says:

Fitzgerald: “I had to play these a few times to try to unpick what they were about”

“There’s a certain irony in the fact that I had to play these a few times to try to unpick what they were about. I genuinely didn’t get them at first. What is ‘underthinking’? How do you mull things over by not thinking about them; isn’t that contradictory by its very nature?

“Finally, having thoroughly overthought the whole thing I kinda got it, but the execution (dissecting awkward social events) strays too far from the product (Carlton Dry is a simple man’s beer, unlike craft beers, presumably).

“I loved the ‘Hello Beer’ platform so much, and it was always going to be a hard act to follow. These ads aren’t totally without charm, there are some funny gags and some nice insights around awkward social moments—the shake/hug thing is bang on, but then the response of a ‘shug’ seems to be overthink rather than underthink the problem… Argh I’m overthinking it again. I need a drink.”

Brand: Stan
Agency: Richards Rose
The Verdict: Entertaining and well shot, but will audiences know what it is for?

Stan launched a brand campaign centred around a lip-syncing 1980s singer played by Perth conedian Shane Adamczak who stalks different households as they watch Stan, performing the Dirty Dancing hit, Hungry Eyes.

Chimes says:

“We’re living in the golden age of TV shows. Their budgets are bigger than ever. The quality of talent, writers and directors is unprecedented. And we’re consuming shows more than ever before. So yeah, in a way, our eyes are super hungry. Hungry for the delicious content that entertainment providores like Stan keep serving up.

“There’s a lot of great ads selling Netflix and Foxtel, so an ad in this category needs to be memorable. I think this spot is, to an extent. Throwing back to the ’80s might be a move to tap into nostalgia for a 40-something audience. Or maybe the agency just found a banging track and retrofitted the ad around it. Either way, it’s entertaining and well shot.”

Fitzgerald says:

“I’ve worked on briefs similar to this one, and I know how hard it is to try and make ‘people on the sofa watching content’ engaging.

“This has a fair crack at it. ‘Hungry Eyes’ is a nice lateral choice, though ’80s rock covers are a bit stale—still the talent is engaging, epitomising ‘the biggest deal in entertainment’ with the sort of androgynous charisma that would make Bowie proud.

“Through the ad he struts his stuff around lounge rooms and toilet stalls casting his eyes onto content depicted on various devices. But whose content? The clip is over a minute long and the brand isn’t brought in until the very end, so I wonder how many viewers will know just what Hungry Eyes is hungry for.”

Brand: Tourism NT
Agency: Common Ventures
The Verdict: A ballsy move with just the right amount of crazy 

Tourism NT recruited three comedians to make fun of Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide stereotypes and encourage Australians to ‘Get out of the state you’re in’.

Chimes says:

“This was a ballsy move for Tourism NT. Giving an open brief to comedians, asking them to unsell their home towns. I like how the client didn’t get too PC and allowed swearing. Looks like it paid off. The videos are getting a lot of likes and shares online.

“I’m unsure whether or not this would actually make people travel NT, but it definitely cuts through the clutter of other hard-selling tourism ads. They are funny pieces of content that demand your attention, where the sell comes second. With NT’s iconic scenic shots, maybe that’s all you need.

“For me the best video was Alex Williamson’s. Just the right amount of crazy.”

Fitzgerald says:

“Long-form content is tough. You have to make something so engaging that people will stay watching it, by choice, even when they know it’s an ad.

“To do that you need a compelling story, or a really awesome idea, or something so completely hilarious you just have to keep watching. These don’t do any of the above, but they do have some genuinely funny moments.

“The idea ‘Get out of the state you’re in’ plays on the negative and bags out our cities while showing all the goodness that can be found in the NT. I’d be interested to see what consumer insight the idea came out of—are people currently staying put in their own states for their holidays?

“Out of the three executions the Sydney one featuring Tanya Hennesey was the stand-out. She’s a great talent and there are some hilarious lines, but two minutes of lines is quite a long time to hold your attention, and it’s not until 1:30 that the NT gets a mention. That’s the problem with playing on the negative—you can stray a bit too far from the positive.”

Brand: Australian Defence Force
Agency: Havas
The Verdict: Compelling and authentic stories which position the ADF in a new light

The ADF made families the focus of its new campaign using the tagline ‘The ADF surprised us’ highlighting eight individuals from different backgrounds and how their family accepted them working in the army.

Chimes says:

“There’s a lot of baggage associated with joining the ADF (what with all the wars and everything), but this campaign certainly positions them in a new light.

“Rather than an armed service, it effectively portrays the ADF as a multicultural workforce. People who care about all beliefs, cultures, even the impact on enlisted men and women’s families.

“The films are pretty straight but they have an authentic feel. I get the sense that I’m meeting real people and hearing their unfiltered stories. The campaign might not convert the masses to enlist today, but I imagine it will help convince people to join the ADF if they’re sitting on the fence.”

Fitzgerald says:

“At a time when we seem to hear of nothing but racism and hate, these ADF films offer a wonderful counterbalance. In advertising we’re always trying to make people believe our good news stories, but it’s not often they are done with such authenticity.

“These stories of immigration and diversity not only deliver on the job of giving the ADF an inclusive and human persona, they are compelling enough to wipe your mind of reports of bigotry in the armed forces that sometimes come to light. This is the new ADF, full of new hope, and Australians new and old.

“Each film uses a family connection as a storytelling device, which is a great way of keeping emotion high. Proud parents (mainly recent immigrants or first Australians) sit with their children, chiming in with stories of their children’s success, and the opportunities granted by a career at the ADF. Their eyes glisten, and so did mine, just a little.

“It is an optimistic view of real Australia—multicultural but united and working together. “I guess in Australia it doesn’t really matter where you originally come from” says Vivienne, of Chinese heritage. I so want to believe it!”

  • 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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