Campaign Review: Creatives clash on whether Uber, Coca-Cola and meerkat ads are any good

Mumbrella invites the industry’s most senior creatives and strategists to offer their views on the latest ad campaigns. This week: Digitas Australia's Michael Daley and The Daylight Agency's Chris Mitchell offer their vastly different views on Uber, Ray White, Compare the Market and Coca-Cola.

Brand: Uber
Agency: Special Group
The Verdict: Not ‘Uber’ enough

Michael Daley, senior strategist and director of analytics at Digitas Australia, says:

Daley says: “The campaign achieves the first message superbly”

“Uber’s market share is being challenged by new entrants. This campaign therefore needs to communicate two key messages to be successful – why ride sharing, and why Uber.

“The campaign achieves the first message superbly. The tagline is relatable and well presented, the scenarios are familiar and the pace of the ad communicates a sense of urgency.

“As for the second message, there’s more that can be done. The brand name appears several times, both spoken and written; stronger use of the broader branding scheme would help make the ad instantly recognisable as Uber.

“What’s also impressive about the ad is that it can be spliced for a strong connected, cross-channel experience. In fact, since watching it I’ve been retargeted with short, three-second versions on various other platforms.”

Rating: 8/10

Chris Mitchell, executive creative director at The Daylight Agency, says:

Mitchell says: “It’s not an idea, it’s an insight”

“The verdict: See you later

“As an innovative tech company, Uber was the first to develop an app that made it possible for people to simply tap their smartphone and have a cab arrive at their location in a minimum possible time.

“Great idea and who knows how they pulled off the technology, but what we have now is a reliable service with punctuality as its core DNA. This effort feels like a missed opportunity to me. I’m surprised that a company that has built its success on being innovative and disruptive is acting like a me-too when it comes to communicating its brand promise.

“Years ago, Fed Express disrupted the delivery sector by promising to absolutely, positively get it (your parcel) there overnight. They then spent the next gadjillion years proving that bold premise in surprisingly simple and refreshing ways.

“My point is, if you start with the key proposition- fast pick-up times, (i.e. punctuality) you have at your disposal a wealth of simple, impactful opportunities to bring that premise to life. ‘See you soon’ may live in the vernacular (although, I’d say ‘See you later’ is more common), but it’s not an idea, it’s an insight, and as such it would probably be best used as the tagline to a more disruptive demonstration of Uber’s strategic premise of ‘punctuality’”.

Rating: 3/10

Brand: Ray White
Agency: Do
The Verdict: Great(ish)

Daley says:

“The underlying concept of this ad confused me. Australians are unimaginative. We overuse ‘great’. However, the word chosen to describe Ray White is exactly that – ‘great’. Either we’re in fact quite imaginative, or Ray White is unimaginative – it seems like it’s the latter.

“While some Australian places contain the word ‘great’, many others spring to mind ahead of the Great Australian Bight or the Great Dividing Range (e.g. Sydney Opera House, Uluru, etc). I’d suggest consumers won’t remember this past it being “an ad for a real estate company”.

“I could be wrong. Ray White’s market share overtook number one ranked Raine and Horne recently. It might be thanks to this ad; it might be related to Grand Final Day, an auspicious day in real estate circles.”

Rating: 6/10

Mitchell says:

“The Verdict: Great(ish)

“Obviously, Ray White has learnt a thing or two about communication in their 116 years history.

“I saw this on TV the other night, and was pleasantly surprised. Here was a real estate company with a clear idea of who they are and whom they want to appeal to, which is basically every Australian, far and wide, who dreams of owning their own home.

“Full marks to all involved for resisting the usual laundry list of boxes to tick – i.e. show happy child with toy, happy couple painting bedroom, bride being carried through front door, old couple with pet budgie etc, etc. Ok they did have the couple standing in front of the Ray White sign, but really, I think the message is clear without being overbearing and proves that sometimes it’s the things you leave out that makes all the difference to what you want people to take out of your communication.

“The script did feel a tad overwritten (who uses the term ‘Australasia’ these days) and the transition to the ‘Ray White ad’ bit was a bit clunky, but overall the delivery was well done.

“Clear strategy. Simple, honest execution. Good production values. A little cringe worthy but it left me feeling positive about Ray White – what more can you ask your advertising do? And I did take out RAY WHITE – GREAT!”

Rating: 7/10

Brand: Coca-Cola
Agency: McCann
The Verdict: A disjointed effort

Daley says:

“Nostalgia is a particularly strong emotion. When leveraged well, it becomes a strong call to arms, rallying around culture, history and tradition. This campaign feels like it wants to tap into collectivism to galvanise Coca-Cola’s relationship with Australia over the past 80 years.

“What results is nice enough, although the scenes feel fragmented and present a confusing array of timeframes, characters and situations. Social analysis indicates Australians feel the same way, with a small spike in mentions during launch week quickly subsiding the following week.

“Coca-Cola is feeding this proposition of Coke and Australia into other channels – their logo has been flipped ‘down under’ on Facebook, and the famous sign in Kings Cross has also been inverted. However, the cross-channel execution feels disjointed from the brand; to quote one Facebook commentator, ‘As strayan as a meat pie at Maccas’.”

Score: 6/10

Mitchell says:

“The Verdict: It’s the Dull thing

“Probably the most lame Coke ad I’ve ever seen. Why not do a compile from your actual ads, which up until the ‘digital revolution’, were at the forefront of creativity, excitement, optimism and fun? Anything would be better than this.

“Coke ads were anticipated, they heralded the start of summer. People actually looked forward to seeing what the latest ‘Coke’ thing would be. New wave directors made their reputations on the quality of their ideas and the skill of their direction and technique. Supermodels got their first break in front of the camera. People talked about and bought the product. Those were the days. Nobody cared about sugar content. Coke was refreshing.

“You still can’t beat the taste of a Coke sliding down your salty, dry throat after good surf. This ad side steps all the great things about having the ‘real thing’ and somehow makes the brand look like it’s 80 years old.

“I can’t imagine it will generate any interest level what so ever, other than a nod to the marketing department from head office for doing ‘something’. I hate to say it and sorry to all those involved – a big effort I’m sure – but this Coke ad just leaves me flat.”

Rating: 1/10

Brand: Compare the Market
Agency: VCCP
The Verdict: Loveable meerkats can’t solve all problems, but they give it a good go

Daley says:

“By now, the meerkats are a tried and tested formula – cute, recognisable and immediately associated with the brand. This latest campaign doesn’t stray far from previous iterations – be funny, deliver a punchy message covering CTM’s ‘simples’ value proposition, and end with more funnies. The messaging is clear and ‘simples’ beautifully captures the business’ core value proposition.

“My one hesitation is that the campaign tries to prove how ‘simple’ product comparison can be; it seems counter-intuitive achieve this by creating a new word (“simplesness”). This isn’t reflected in the results though – overall traffic to the site is up 20% and brand searches increased 5% during launch week.”

Rating: 7/10

Mitchell says:

“The Verdict: Not Simpleness

“On paper, this script will have made sense, it’s funny, manages to seamlessly mention all kinds of insurance options, and has a nice catchphrase. The production is top quality, the characters are brilliant, but somehow I still end up just as confused as always about the relevance of it.

“I know people love these characters, and they are expertly conceived and produced but, and it’s a big BUT, their whole raison d’etre is built on a bad pun. Meerkat/market. I’d say even now, most people struggle to see the link to the brand.

“So it’s interesting to read and agree with new CMO Jenny Williams that ‘Whilst the meerkats are well recognised, people aren’t as aware of what Compare the Market actually do and to some extent they are almost seen as two separate things’. What that says to me is the campaign, though loveable, is flawed. These ads are as entertaining as their script envisaged, but not communicating as effectively as they could.

“In this case the ‘Simpleness’ message is way overcomplicated. Having said that, I don’t think the problem is with the characters per se – I think confusion comes from having to ask too much of them. The client wants to do a range ad, so how do you dream up a scenario where these little dudes can deliver multiple messaging?

“So step one, don’t agree to do a range ad. If ‘complication’ is the perceived marketing problem, you’re simply adding to the confusion.

“Writing scripts for any established characters is not easy, and I appreciate the effort that has gone into this one, but I can’t help but think this campaign would be more effective if you kept the ads more ‘simpleness’ too. You’ll give the punter some idea of what you’re talking about.”

Rating: 5/10

  • 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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