Campaign Review: The verdict on Qantas’ missed opportunity and NAB’s forgettable ad

Mumbrella invites the industry's most senior creatives and strategists to offer their views on the latest ad campaigns. This week: LOUD's creative director, Wellison D'Assuncao, and PENSO's Constantine Frantzeskos offer their views on new work for Qantas, CUB, NAB and Black Hawk

Brand: Qantas
Agency: Brand+Story, Ape, The Butchery and Noise
The Verdict: A missed opportunity that lacks a strong idea

Wellison D’Assuncao, creative director, LOUD, says:

D’Assuncao says the ad is on brand but lacks a strong idea

“Just like Johnny Farnham, gone again… back again, it’s time to give the Peter Allen classic a respectful retirement. And if you’re tempted to open the 80’s music volute – which is not a bad thing, by the way – it should be reserved for iconic pieces of brand work. Qantas has leveraged this track so successfully over the years with big brand ads that it feels completely out of place here.

“The reason this piece of film falls short is because it’s trying to do way too much. Strategically the brief would have been: “Let’s create an interesting and creative way to deliver an in-flight safety video.” Instead, it turned into: “Let’s create an interesting and creative way to deliver an in-flight safety video, show every location we fly to and get every Australian cliché in there.” The only thing missing was a shrimp on the barbie, a Fosters and an ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie… Oi, Oi, Oi’ chant.

“The length bothered me too. Seven minutes feels a bit rich. Maybe I’m watching too much Air Crash Investigation to know that the odds aren’t that great in case of an emergency, so after about two minutes I would be asking for a drink instead, hoping that it would numb the impact. Some of the best work in this space is about five minutes, so this just goes on for a bit too long.

“All jokes aside, this is very Qantas and very much on brand. It’s shot beautifully and the aesthetics are flawless – it just lacks a strong idea. They should have looked across the ditch for some inspiration. A missed opportunity.”

Constantine Frantzeskos, founder and CEO, PENSO, says:

Frantzeskos says Qantas ads have been awful for a long time

“Qantas ads have been truly awful for a long time, from the baffling work of Droga5 to the more recent blandness peddled by the late Neil Lawrence / Monkeys in the ‘Feels Like Home’ campaign (I’d suggest travel advertisements that inspire people to travel in a big, branded, energetic way work better than ads that are dull, unbranded and draw imagery from observing people arriving safely into a dark and empty airport terminal).

“This however, is an excellent piece of work, easily the best safety video I’ve ever seen.

“It begins with the intense range of emotions at departure: excitement, the thrill, the emotion, the heartache, over rapidly into a big city visit, and then takes us on a journey through a range of external endorsements of Australian culture. There’s nothing Australians love more than people “from overseas” validating our accent, our approach to life, our larrikinism, our resilience, even our songs. When the bloke on top of the Andes grabs the guitar and belts out a few notes of ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ (the best brand asset Qantas has after the flying Kangaroo) to the surprise and rapture of his fellow global travellers, it’s basically peak Aussie pride. I can imagine every person in the plane’s eyes moistening as they watch scenes of Aussie cricket in Tokyo, Aussie flat whites in London and Aussie Vegemite in that beautifully shot scene with the Shanghai family.

“It’s an affectionate, happy and positive embodiment of ‘The Spirit of Australia’. This is what Qantas’ ads should be like from now on.”

Brand: Rusty Yak, CUB
Agency: Clemenger BBDO Melborune
The Verdict: The ad created hype for the product but the execution wasn’t great

D’Assuncao says:

“This is a great way to create a bit of hype for a new product. The thought of getting to try a new beer when I buy my favourite six pack is fantastic. And even if don’t like it, I get $500 – what a great way to sample a product.

“So, what’s all the fuss about? Oh, the gingers. Ok, let’s tackle the elephant in the room.

“Advertising has always poked fun at people both literally and figuratively for as long as I’ve been around. We award this work for crying out loud! Not just creatively, but for effectiveness too. So, when did we all grow so sensitive? Is it a cheap shot at Gingers? Yes. Is it an old joke? Yes. But is it nice to see a bit of fun back in the beer category? 100%.

“I’m going to hop off my moral high horse for this one and congratulate the clients for buying some fun. Fun that has evoked a reaction. Good or bad, the reaction is way more than what any other beer brand is actually getting with content or ads – let alone a sampling promotion.

“The Yak brand strategy from inception has always been to challenge convention. A Yak with a pixelated penis on a giant billboard was how they launched Fat Yak – so this particular execution feels tame in comparison.

“This is work that will have gingers and those without the gene stand around BBQs having a laugh at just how silly it is. Let’s lighten up.”

Frantzeskos says:

“I give this a 66% rating.

“Product bundling is usually done in the most boring way possible. Shampoo brand X bundles new conditioner brand X for free in a shrink-wrap to encourage trial. Dull as dishwater. But this effort at bundling a new beer flavour within six packs, and then rewarding people $500 to avoid any loss aversion is a really novel idea.

“It’s another great idea to encourage people to seek out these errant bottles – a strongly branded call to action. Basing it on ‘you never know where red-heads can pop up in your family’ is a cute, fun and brand-associated metaphor that people who live in the real world would most likely link to the product, remember (most importantly) and get a laugh out of.

“However, the execution isn’t great. It tries to be funny, but it’s a bit lame. The quick-cut nature of the shots / stock footage looks a bit disjointed. If I wanted to generate some outrage in this ad, I’d save it for the incredibly long / word-heavy script and matching overbearing, overly bloke voiceover. I was experiencing the McGurk Effect as I was watching it.”

Brand: NAB
Agency: Clemenger BBDO Melbourne
The Verdict: An emotive way to connect with customers that was ‘totally forgettable’

D’Assuncao says:

“More Give, Less Take was never going to be a sustainable brand positioning for a bank with shareholders, was it now? So after much deliberation, we have More than Money.

“An emotive way to connect with Australians on a level far deeper than cash. It’s an interesting approach. A customer-centric platform that will let the brand celebrate what they help facilitate. With major banks struggling to connect with everyday Australians, I think this platform idea will.

“There was something really beautiful about the TVC that launched the platform, the one where we followed the life of a young woman from birth to young adulthood using real-life home video footage capturing significant milestones and personal moments of her life. However, this new ad just doesn’t have that same emotive pull.

“The idea of regaining focus on what matters in life is great. Having Australians from all walks of life at the centre of the idea is true to the new brand positioning. But that’s where it ends. The combination of neat wardrobe (could be a Tide ad), locked off camera and hotel lobby backdrop doesn’t bring the idea to life.

“This brand platform will live and die by how authentically it’s delivered and crafted. If every day human stories and their achievements is what they’re going for, then there’s no cutting corners. Because as soon as you do, the work will start to float back into squeaky-clean bank land, and lose all its beautiful human imperfections – the stuff that makes us believe.

“Great platform idea, great launch ad… this one, not so much.”

Frantzeskos says:

“It’s really tough for Aussie banks at the moment. Anti-capitalism is infecting our Parliament, media and even our boardrooms. The Royal Commission into banking is putting them under incredible pressure. Banking taxes are crazy – they’re a tax on consumers, as simple as that.

“But despite all of that, banks underpin the prosperity of Australia. The Australian economy is basically ‘homes and holes’ and banks have underpinned these sectors with cheap and plentiful money since white settlement. Home ownership rates in Australia – a core part of Aussie culture – is at historic highs (even despite the high cost of homes). Australian quality of life and purchasing power is also at historic highs. Credit is cheap. Bank service (while we’ll always whinge) is not too bad. Try tap and go in the USA, or try to find an ATM in Europe, and you find yourself yearning for the ‘four pillars’, ANZ, NAB, Westpac and CBA.

“And the funniest part? Aussie know this. Aussies totally trust their banks with money. Aussies own a massive range of banking products. There’s nothing Aussies would rather do than to put their money into one of our big four. As much as we whinge and say the opposite, we endorse the banks wholeheartedly with our actions, not our words. And actions are all that matter.

“What Aussies don’t trust is banks that stray from their core purpose, which is to borrow from one person and lend to another in order to provide liquidity and make for a more prosperous society. The moment banks start talking about ‘more than money’, is when the famous Australian bullshit detector goes up. NAB is running scared with ‘More than Money’. ‘More than Money’ implies that there is something wrong with money and that money is only part of NAB’s overall offer. It’s not. It’s what NAB does, and does well. It’s not something to be ashamed of.

“This work is simply an empathetic, but totally forgettable, attempt at expressing the more than money premise.”

Brand: Black Hawk
Agency: The Works
The Verdict: A half-baked execution with a brilliant idea

D’Assuncao says:

“I couldn’t review this on my own. It just didn’t seem right. So, I had a really good conversation with my dog and asked him what he thought.

“‘The launch has caused chaos under dining tables all over the nation’ he replied. ‘We’re up in paws man! It’s compromised snack intake by up to 40%. We’re not happy. It’s given me anxiety.’

“I told him to calm down: ‘What’s wrong with the idea of a healthier you?’ I took the liberty of entering his details into the site earlier in the day and to my surprise, he was slightly overweight to which he replied: ‘Friends don’t judge Wellison… friends don’t judge.’

“‘I know,’ I said. ‘I’m a bit soft around the edges too mate.’ But I put my foot down. I told him that as an important member of the family, the Third Child, we had the responsibility to stop the snacks and start feeding him right. It was tense. I showed him how engaging the site was, the healthy tips it promised to deliver and the new food possibilities. In disgust, he walked away. Why is behavioural change so tough, I thought?

“Poochie might not be a fan, but I am. It’s simple and easy to visualise the impact bad food choices are having on him. I feel confident that with a bit of guidance and tough love, Poochie, and his bad attitude, will be in my family for many more years to come. It’s great to see another dog brand apart from Pedigree adding value to a changing category.”

Frantzeskos says:

“I like the idea that people should be taking care of their dog with appropriate food quality and quantity. I like that there is a way of easily explaining how over- or underweight your dog is, using a human scale. However this execution is a little half-baked. What they are currently not doing is using (the relatively unbranded) DogCheck.com.au to gather data on every dog in Australia (and their owners) and using that information to advertise to the owners over the lifecycle of the dogs.

“According to my software, the site only has Google Analytics and Facebook plugins, not nearly enough to do the heavy lifting needed for a big, data-driven creative campaign. Build cross-channel attribution by using plugins and opt-ins on the site that enrich the data before people are even asked for their email address. Further, they are not using social logins, so they demand of people that they manually enter their details. This would most likely discourage at least 60% of the eventual visitors to this part of the site.

“The advantages of building a more data-driven creative approach with this is that they might be able to create a range of creative messages targeted to precisely the right dog owner at the right time. If the dogs are young, then promote the puppy product. If older, maybe the softer product. Creative executions that have an image / size of the exact dog the owner has. These are some of the opportunities that cannot not being exploited by this particular campaign platform right now the way that it’s constructed. If they make these changes, they might be able to drive dog food sales. Without it, it’s hard to see how sales will increase.”

  • 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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