Campaign Review: The verdict on Coke No Sugar, McCafe, Oporto and Subaru

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: Hamish Grieve, creative director at Apparent and Seamus Higgins, executive creative director at Havas.

Brand: Coca-Cola South Pacific
Agency: Ogilvy Sydney
The verdict: A more productive starting point would have been ‘Saying No’

Coca-Cola South Pacific launched its new Coca-Cola No Sugar drink with an integrated campaign ‘Say Yes‘. The campaign featured a 30-second television commercial in which people watched fireworks, danced in a club, jumped in a pool and were encouraged to ‘Say yes to the taste you love’.

Seamus Higgins, executive creative director, Havas, says:

Higgins: “In advertising we say yes too much”


“Say Yes to Optus. Say Yes to getting business done with American Express. Say Yes with Hybrid IT by HP. Always say Yes, with Tuborg. Say Yes to the dress. And now, Coke also wants you to say Yes. If the above examples from the last few years in advertising tell us anything, it’s that in advertising, we say Yes too much. Yes to generic insights. Yes to vapid executions. Yes to forgettable. The most interesting thing about this campaign is a voice-activated, refrigerated poster. I think a more productive starting point for the strategy and creative, would have been saying No, and seeing where that took things.”

Hamish Grieve, creative director, Apparent, says:

Grieve: “It’s a pretty generic as ads go”


“I’m a Coke Zero man myself (that phrase looks particularly unmanly when it’s written down in actual words) so I’m smack bang in the target market for this campaign. I’m on the consumer journey to buy a can of this new No Sugar Coke, I’m in the funnel, somewhere between awareness and consideration. The main objective of this campaign will be simply to get Diet Coke and Coke Zero drinkers to try the new flavour, once. Any repeat purchase will come down to taste. First up the TV – an announcement spot using what looks like global assets with a track by Kelly Rowland. Does it make me feel favourably about Coke as a brand? Not really, it’s pretty generic as ads go. The spot tells me there’s now a Coke with no sugar – job done. Creatively it feels like the agency had their hands tied here, and as a big fan of the ‘Open Happiness’ platform and the brilliant work that came out of it, the new ‘Taste the Feeling’ positioning isn’t really doing it for me yet. With the main objective to get people to try the new flavour, it looks like most of the budget is rightly being spent on achieving that.”

Brand: McCafe
Agency: DDB
The verdict: The agency did well at sidestepping the quality of the product by focusing on the competitor’s negatives

McDonald’s promoted the convenience of its drive through McCafe experience in this new campaign, showing the hassles of having to stop and get a coffee.

Higgins says:

“Every good ECD I’ve ever had has told me that dramatising the negative to make your product seem better is rarely a good thing. It’s like the old shopping channel trick of fumbling dangerously with a 1960’s can-opener to sell the new Can-o-matic-6000. What those ads then go on to do though, that this one doesn’t, is give you a compelling reason to buy that product. They focus more on their good stuff, than the competition’s bad stuff. Before you know it you’re watching the Can-o-matic-6000 take the roof off a Boeing 747. But then again, sometimes focusing on the negative is what you have to do when your product just isn’t that good. When the best thing you can say about it, is that it’s easy to buy from a car.”

Grieve said:

“Another caffeinated beverage campaign – and I’m squarely in the sights of these marketers too. I drink at least two coffees a day, I own children, I own a car, and I’m not very good at parking it. Although I’ve never had a Macca’s (sorry, McCafe) coffee, I am a Kiwi, and therefore a terrible coffee snob (albeit from Auckland not Wellington, so there are way worse than me). I’m very particular about where I get my twice daily cup of Joe, and while the coffee in the ad looks quite good, and it may well be, I just can’t bring myself to believe that it would be as good as the soy almond latte Frappuccino created by my local top-knotted barista Vern. I suspect a lot of barista-made coffee drinkers will be in the same suspicious boat as me, so props to the agency and marketing team for sidestepping the quality question and focusing on the main benefit – the convenience of getting a barista coffee without having to get out of your auto. The spot itself is charming enough too – well–directed with a nice track, some relatable scenarios and a dash of humour. It may well convince non-Kiwi Australians that they should get their coffee from the comfort of their car, together with a cheeky side-order of fries.”

Brand: Oporto
Agency: Host
The Verdict: Brave, bold and a good brief to work on

Burger chain Oporto played on stereotypes in its new out-of-home ad campaign featuring tongue-in-cheek slogans such as ‘Just like Bondi minus the English accents and sunburn’.

The posters also include: ‘We’d call it the South Yarra burger but our breasts are real’, ‘We’d call it the Canberra burger but you get a kick not a kickback’, and ‘Go home with something hot for a change’.

Higgins says:

“I’m Irish, but I grew up in South Africa. Now that I’m living in Sydney, of course I miss the rains, but I also miss the Nando’s ads. These were ads that people talked about. They were topical and they were brave. And sometimes, they were banned. Ads selling spicy chicken meal deals were pulled, and it is rumoured that the clients were briefing their agency to make sure they were. So I like Oporto’s creative platform of ‘It bites back’. And I think the strategy to do something bold to stand out from their large, corporate American competition is smart too. I’d like to work on a brief like that. If I had it, I would want to push it further, particularly in social channels, and I would hope that the client who was smart enough to buy it, would be brave enough to see how far we could take it. And I would avoid obvious stereotypes – I think the burger could bite back harder, but smarter too.”

Grieve says:

“I live near Bondi, and I like burgers, although as a recently diagnosed glutard I don’t eat them unless I’m drunk, or they can be consumed via a gluten-free bun. However I wasn’t aware of the existence of this famous Bondi Burger, so maybe I haven’t been drinking enough, or getting drunk enough in Bondi. Oporto do make lovely chicken, it’s spicy and certainly has a kick to it. So I’m assuming that these burgers are an excellent, and at the very least a solid, alternative to a kebab at 3am. And they do look nice in the ads, with the sauce and mayo all drippy and yummy looking. The burger image is also very big and takes up a lot of the ad space, so in OOH the idea needs to be headline-driven. The positioning of ‘The Burger that bites back,’ has promise, and like any headline-driven campaign, the more executions you write, the better they get as you develop the campaign tone of voice. These OOH executions are a solid start and radio will give the creative idea even more room to breathe. Social will also be an excellent channel for this campaign to stretch into funny, topical executions.”

Brand: Subaru
Agency: Disciple
The verdict: Car advertising has seen better days as this campaign has an “equally generic idea and stereotype-laden storyline”

Launching its new Subaru XV, Subaru turned its ads into a mock movie trailer telling customers to “buckle up” for the “big-screen adventure”.

Higgins says:

“Criticising this for not thinking beyond a ‘movie-trailer style’ delivery is too obvious, so I’ll focus on something else. I drive one, not the XV, but a Subaru, and my wife and I felt like we made an intelligent decision when we decided to buy it. So why does the campaign treat its potential buyers like they are stupid? Like they aren’t looking to be entertained, surprised or informed? Stringing together a bunch of features I would expect as standard in a new car of that level, with an equally generic idea and stereotype-laden storyline, does nothing to elevate the Subaru XV above the cluttered space it’s competing in. Luckily, it’s a Subaru, so at least good car reviews will drive sales.”

Grieve said:

“In my humble opinion, car advertising in this country has seen better days. While there’s the odd bright spot, the default in the category seems to be: generic driving sequence, lifestyle shots, a whimsical or pumping soundtrack (depending on which car buying demographic is being targeted) and a price point. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had enough caffeinated beverages today, but I found the strategy a little foggy. This campaign for the Subaru XV definitely has its good moments. The 30-second spot is reasonably entertaining – the ‘renegade cop’ parking warden made me smile, and the 15’s work nicely too. Executionally, the movie trailer voiceover has been used a wee bit before, but your average car buying punter won’t be posting anonymous comments on carsales.com to complain about that. One small quibble, I’m not sure about the line ‘all-entertaining’ as a selling point. I’m not clear what exactly the ‘entertaining’ bit is that it’s referring to – is it the sat-nav screen or is it just an entertaining ad? Again, that’s unlikely to trouble someone who is looking to buy a mid-range family SUV, and this campaign manages to be different enough that it should stand out from the crowd.”

  • 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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