Campaign Review: The verdict on Dick Smith, Say No to No, Air NZ and Arnott’s

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: Derek Green, executive creative director at Ogilvy Sydney, and Dan Ratner, strategy director, Uberbrand.

Brand: Dick Smith
Agency: Josh Mawer
The Verdict:  The message got lost in translation and fuels hate and racism

Entrepreneur Dick Smith launched a one-minute television commercial which played off the 1980s Grim Reaper AIDS campaign – even using the same voiceover artist. Smith’s 2017 campaign however warns Australians of the irreversible consequences of population growth.

Derek Green, executive creative director, Ogilvy, says:

Green: “This is wrong on both a personal and professional level”

“Sorry Dick, I love you, but this is wrong on both a personal and professional level. Personally, I believe immigration is what makes Australia great. Immigration made Dick who he is and made his products so successful. Really, is he telling immigrants that they are cancer? These cancerous immigrants picked, made and bought his jams and tomato sauce, his OzEnuts peanut butter and OzEmite! Seriously Dick, how can we be over-populated when we are roughly the same land size of the US but a fraction of their population?

Professionally, I don’t believe this piece of communication would change the government’s immigration policy one little bit. It’s irresponsible and it’s not designed to make change, all it’s doing is fuelling the hate in the extreme racists and paralysing everyday people with fear. How is that getting people behind your cause? Two very big Aussie thumbs down.”

Dan Ratner, strategy director, Uberbrand, says:

Ratner: “The point Dick Smith was trying to make is probably lost in this execution”

“Back in the 80’s, when Siimon Reynolds created the original AIDS Grim Reaper campaign, it affected the personal lives of an entire generation. While that campaign itself became famous, it actually made some bold predictions, of which none came true. So it’s odd to see Dick Smith use a similar platform to convey this message.

“Fear, especially when delivered in sound bites, is dangerous, as a little bit of information is a dangerous thing. It’s divisive and polarising which in turn has the potential to give permission for some segments to normalise extreme views. It’s something that’s happening in the United States right now, for example Donald Trump’s lacklustre response to the racially-charged events in Charlottesville.

“There are probably some real concerns driving this campaign around how Australia integrates migrants and refugees, and some of this thinking might be driven by the government’s inability to deal effectively with poverty, homelessness and mental illness. However, I think the way it’s come to life in this campaign focuses too much on the negatives and, consequently, doesn’t address the real issues.

“Overall, the point Dick Smith was trying to make is probably lost in this execution, and it might have been better to focus on specific problems and solutions rather than create a campaign based around fear.”

Brand: Say No to No
Agency: The Royals
The Verdict: A marketing ploy created from a simple demand

Say No to No is a website and campaign created for members of the ad industry to pledge not to work on the No campaign in the lead-up to the marriage equality postal survey.

Green says:

“Finally, we’ve made a stand as an industry! This issue is a basic human right and we will look back at this time in history, just like when women couldn’t vote, when Aboriginals couldn’t vote or even worse when Aboriginal children were stolen off them, and hang our heads in shame. It took a tremendous amount of courage for Nick Cummins at The Royals to lead the charge, his campaign was a simple demand for our industry – to come as one – and we rallied behind them. I vote yes for love.”

Ratner says:

“This campaign is an example of how brands and even agencies can hijack the public agenda and use it to their own advantage. By taking a strong position on such a divisive issue, the agency who set this up can communicate what it stands for and, presumably, be seen as being on the ‘right’ side of the argument.

“However, this approach loses its legitimacy when it becomes clear that it’s tied to a single agency instead of being a true industry initiative. Then it’s just a marketing ploy.

“The execution of the campaign is effective and works well; after all, the more agencies that sign up, the more coverage the campaign will get, the more the agency that set it up is legitimised.

“This campaign would have been more effective if the agency had gifted it to the industry such as through a vehicle like Mumbrella. Then every agency would have an equal opportunity to get involved or not. That way, the campaign would have been focused on the issue at hand, which is same sex marriage, as opposed to simply being a vehicle to raise the profile of the agency behind it.

“When you look under the lid, it makes me feel uneasy, and that’s not cool.”

Brand: Air New Zealand
Agency: Host
The Verdict: A “let down in execution” but hits a sweet spot with its target audience

Air New Zealand targeted home sick Kiwis living in Australia in an ad featuring popular Shortland Street heart throb Dr. T.K. Samuels.

Green says:

“Air NZ always has a great tone of voice. Their safety videos revolutionised the most boring part of flying and generally their advertising has a fun, uniquely Kiwi point of view. This film is unmistakably Kiwi, its use of the Shortland St Doctor will definitely get those home sick Kiwis excited to get a sick deal. It was let down in execution though. The pace of the film felt really slow and that dragged the humour down a little – but overall I do like where they were going with this promo. So, it’s almost sick bro.”

Ratner says:

“I think this campaign really hits a sweet spot in terms of talking directly to a specific audience. It’s highly targeted, which is essential in the fragmented media environment. Brands have to be clever, know their audiences, and capture insights. Air New Zealand has done this very cleverly and quite clearly with this campaign.

“I think the comedy is effective also; it works well. It clearly identifies the audience and it hammers the message home hard. The format and storytelling worked well. I do think it could be a bit of a one-time use as I’m not sure where Air New Zealand can take it from here.

“Using Dr T K Samuels and replicating a NZ soap opera was highly effective in my opinion. While it clearly selects me out (because I’m not part of the target audience), it’s an inside joke and so it’s obvious that the target audience would totally get it. Consequently, I think this campaign does a great job of talking to a specific audience in a language and style they definitely would understand.”

Brand: Arnott’s
Agency: TKT
The Verdict: “A montage manifesto hype reels” which “shouldn’t be aired at all”

TKT and Arnott’s attempted to drive home the meaning of family and friendship in the biscuit company’s latest ad, encouraging Australians to reconnect and put down their mobile devices.

Green says:

“I am not a fan of nailing big campaigns because I know how hard it is to get great ideas made. But this film highlights a big issue we have in the industry right now. Sadly, the majority of big campaigns are montage manifesto hype reels to win new business pitches and shouldn’t be aired at all. Strategically, this Arnott’s manifesto is flawed. Devouring a biscuit or 10 is irrational, telling a rational well-trodden insight about how technology and our busy lives are tearing us apart and we should connect with people over a biscuit makes no sense. If you want to drive consumers’ irrational behaviour, you need to make them crave the experience, just like Tom Cruise’s experience when he was behind the wheel of his Porsche in the movie Risky Business and he exclaimed ‘Porsche, there is no substitute!’ Sorry Arnott’s, I’d prefer to substitute your biscuits for a ‘Wonderfilled’ Oreo.”

Ratner says:

“Arnott’s is trading off its heritage in this campaign. While it is a strong heritage, I think it misses the opportunity to balance nostalgia with currency and positioning Arnott’s as relevant in a contemporary landscape. Instead, it takes a schmaltzy approach and, while it gets its message across, to me it ends up making Arnott’s look a little dated.

“By painting itself into this corner of nostalgia, Arnott’s doesn’t make itself relevant. Perhaps the campaign could have done a better job of incorporating contemporary scenarios to achieve a balance. For example, it could have delivered a message of bringing people together no matter where they are because they can share a conversation and a biscuit even if they’re on opposite sides of the world. I think this campaign misses that opportunity. While it certainly hits the emotional button, it does it at the expense of currency and this, to me, turns up as old fashioned.

“So, while this campaign pulls on the emotional heartstrings, it doesn’t stretch the brand and position it in a current and contemporary context.”

  • 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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