Campaign Review: The verdict on KFC, APIA, NBN and CommBank

In a new series, Mumbrella invites the industry's most senior creatives and strategists to offer their views on the latest big marketing campaigns. This week: With Collective’s creative partner Steve Coll and Imagination ECD Michelle Schuberg.

Brand: APIA – We know you know
Agency: DDB Melbourne
The verdict: A strong execution of a tired concept

The work for APIA – targeting over-50s customers – sees a band of older musicians look on wryly as young people make the same mistakes they once did.


Steve Coll, creative partner at With Collective:

Steve Coll: Nothing to get offended about

In this nice APIA ad, young people are dumb so we give better insurance to the over 50s. The very memorable track is spot on, and will tie the whole campaign together well, which is clever considering insurance companies use traditional mediums like TV and radio a lot.

I like the device of the band singing through-out. It gives the ad an element of interest through some not especially inspired insights. There’s nothing to get too offended about here at all.

However, the chariots of digital disruption are thundering toward this category at an unholy speed. Look at brands like Lemonade in the US. Insurance is heading for massive turmoil, in which only the strongest, most customer-driven brands will survive. So dare I suggest – APIA could have been a bit more captain risky by picking a different strategy to Captain Risky.”

Michelle Schuberg, executive creative director at Imagination:

Schuberg: Cute and catchy

It’s cute and catchy – the ‘older self’ is quite a tired concept but this is a nice take on it. I feel like it’s a little bit of a place to go at the moment, it seems to be very heavily used, especially in insurance.

The idea of heeding the warning of your older self isn’t really that effective, but to this audience, the APIA target, it’s nicer, because you’re looking back at the folly of youth.

The band reminded me of the Dumb Ways to Die song, it’s got that kind of vibe to it, and I can see that working really nicely.

Given the audience, given the set up of the structure, you’ve got the ability to bring more and more scenarios to life, so I think it does have the potential for a long-term brand message.

Brand: NBN – SME Time, Ital Ceramics
Agency: One Green Bean
What they said: Tough product, tough brief, questionable strategy

The latest work from the NBN features business owners showing how they can save time using the NBN.

Steve Coll says:

This is a tough product and a tough brief.

The line of people vigorously opposing or criticising the NBN would be as long as the network itself.

It’s a hard tide to hold back, let alone reverse. Unfortunately, I don’t believe this ad will do anything to counter the criticism. In fact, I don’t think the strategy is right at all, on a number of levels.

Small business people are incredibly time poor, and if the NBN gives them time back in their day, they’ll use it to do the thing they obsess about relentlessly – grow their business. I don’t find it remotely believable that they’ll use any time they get back in their day to drink coffee.

The ad tells me we’ve invested billions in a network that’s going to deliver a bit more spare time. Jaysus! Surely, surely, there’s a bigger ambition? Won’t the NBN help Aussie small business adapt and adjust to a new technical age? Or compete on a world stage? Isn’t there any hint of a bigger upside to the massive investment?

It’s a tough brief. The Beans are a great agency and a bunch of whip-smart people. But this isn’t a good solution in my view.

Michelle Schuberg says:

They’ve got this great idea, they’ve got this great angle about more time in your day, as a really compelling proof point for why you want to have the NBN, because we know that all that technical talk has not got them very far.

But from a concept point of view the pay off is not nearly big enough. The execution was so cluttered. The first time viewing the ad I missed the really redeeming thing – they talk about saving time in the day, and I only knew what the angle was because I read the heading underneath the YouTube frame.

To be told that this thing that I’ve waited years for, to properly understand and know that my government’s spending a lot of money is going to save me a maximum of 30 minutes a day if I’m working in an online business, it feels really disappointing.

Brand: KFC – Shut up and Take My Money: Chips & Gravy
Agency: Ogilvy
Verdict: Finger Lickin’ Great

The latest execution of KFC’s ‘Shut up and Take Money’ campaign features a school janitor sliding through a hallway with chips and gravy after he discovers a $2.50 KFC deal.


Steve Coll says:

Maccas is a lightning rod for criticism of the fast food industry. For all their detractors, I’ve always admired McDonald’s ability to modernise their offering, something I was proud to be a small part of with the ‘Inner Child’ ad.

By contrast, fairly or unfairly, I’ve always thought KFC’s approach fell between two stools. In the absence of innovation and healthier product, I felt the marketing team pursued unconvincing campaigns of mums in fitness wear buying deep-fried chicken for their healthy, happy families.

It looked like the brand was playing it safe, and the message just wasn’t true. However, something’s changed, gloriously. The latest work from KFC is, finger lickin’ great.

It positively revels in the irresponsibility of a brand that gives you chips, chicken and gravy at a price point so low, you don’t even want to know what’s in it.

Waving two fingers to Australia’s uptight marketing landscape, the ‘Take My Money” campaign knows it talking to a teenage audience and knows just what they want. Ditch the smarts. Pour on lashings of stupid.

And an extra helping of WTF, please. For all its simplicity, this is a well thought through campaign.

“I tip my hat to all, especially the KFC marketing team. I may not be the target market, and I may not be lining up for a Zinger burger anytime soon, but I want more of this.

Michelle Schuberg says:

Where I ended up with this is feeling like the concept is good, and I think the production was really nice – I thought it was well put together – but I felt like the treatment with the specific scenario was a bit weak.

Why would there be a flyer for KFC at the school? Where do you go to get that taste thing that acts so quickly? All those things shouldn’t be what we’re left focusing on, yet we are.

It’s the middle of the process letting it down, I think the treatment is not working hard enough for the idea.

If ‘shut up and take my money’ was a long-term play, I don’t feel like this execution is a strong enough foundation.

“That’s the hard thing with any long-term piece of work, that it’s execution has to stand on it own in isolation, and it also has to contribute to their family.”

Client: Commonwealth Bank – A new world needs new ways forward
Agency: M&C Saatchi
What they said: A missed opportunity to be provocative 

In this campaign, CommBank attempts to position itself as part of the conversation about the big problems facing Australia.


Steve Coll says:

This campaign weighs in on the issues troubling everyday Aussies. There’s a determination to be relevant here. There’s a great data-driven opportunity too, one I hope this campaign will build on.

I imagine that’s where the idea of asking individual people to comment through ATMs is going – a smart use of an owned platform. The portraits are wonderful. The casting is great, suggesting a modern brand that’s comfortable with multi-cultural Australia. But I think this ad is let down by the creative.

There’s an opportunity to be provocative which has been missed. Trump, Brexit, Hanson, property prices, and immigration are just some of the many events unsettling the nation. Our social research at WiTH tells us Aussies are also thinking less like a nation.

So, there’s too much ‘we’ in this ad, not enough ‘me’. The promise in the final line jars.‘Because together we can find new paths’ feels like classic ad speak. This means the ad isn’t quite delivering on the premise of having a real conversation with real Australians.

This ad gets it right by focusing on real issues, but gets it wrong by falling into classic advertising articulation. Would it have been better to hear from the people featured? To be less ‘advertising’? I imagine this campaign will build the more data and opinion is captured.

The bank brilliantly backed the launch of ‘Can’ with new technology, and I imagine it will be the same here. So this is a slow burn. But wouldn’t it have been great if this first iteration had exploded out of the blocks in the same way as the original campaign for ‘Can’.

  • Michelle Schuberg was unable to comment on the Commonwealth Bank work as it is a client of Imagination

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


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