Campaign Review: The verdict on Virgin’s Uptimists and the B-grade actors of HRC’s racism ad

Mumbrella invites the industry's most senior creatives and strategists to offer their views on the latest big marketing campaigns. This week: Sharon Edmondston, creative director at M&C Saatchi, and Paul Fenton, creative partner at YOLO offer their views on new work for Virgin, the Human Rights Commission, McGuigan Wine and Citi

Brand: Virgin Airlines
Agency: DDB
The Verdict: The strategy is stronger than the creative

Virgin Airlines Australia launched its first campaign with DDB, with the tagline ‘Uptimism’, aiming to differentiate Virgin between its biggest competitor Qantas.

Sharon Edmondston, creative director, M&C Saatchi, says:

Edmonston: “Ownable, memorable and believable as a platform”

“It seems like forever that Virgin Australia has just been trying to ‘keep up’ with Qantas, so it was definitely time that they leaned in to their greatest asset – their optimism. As a campaign thought ‘Uptimism’ is sharp. It’s ownable, memorable and believable as a platform for Virgin Australia. The smartest part about it is that it has taken the polar opposite point of view to their fiercest competitor – looking up and taking off versus looking inwards and coming home. It gives Virgin Australia its own set of defined values for customers to align to, rather than just inheriting the halo effect of Sir Richard.

“I personally would have liked to see the creative execution land ‘uptimism’ more strongly and overtly in the film. The line ‘Here’s to looking up’ is lovely, but to me there’s something fresher and bolder about cleanly introducing a word that carries so much weight. The ad gives me that groundhog day feeling that the client fell in love with the mantra script and it kind-of made its way on to TV, and let’s face it, it’s got a lot going for it from a client point of view. Gathering up people who are ‘identified uptimists’ is a brilliant way leveraging your sponsorships, but as a creative, you can almost feel the checklist as you cycle through the talent. I’m sure there would have been some killer scripts kicking around the agency that didn’t make it. Hopefully they’ll see the light of day as the platform endures.”

Paul Fenton, creative partner, YOLO, says:

Fenton: “The strategy is stronger than the execution”

“‘Here’s to looking up’ is a great platform to own. Accentuating the positive attributes of an airline and the ‘what could be’ is a powerful positioning — and pushes off the strategy that Qantas own perfectly.

“But the list of ambassadors they have used in the commercial feels a little disparate and on the surface are only connected by plays on the word ‘up’. The young AFL player getting ‘up’ from the turf, the Ninja Warrior Andrea Hah heading ‘up’ the cliff face, the up and coming actor never giving ‘up’ on his dream (I think).

“Is there a back-story to these people that have a strong connection to ‘looking up’ and therefore a reason we should all embrace ‘up-timism’? The strategy is stronger than the execution on this one for me.”

Brand: Australian Human Rights Commission
Agency: Banjo
The Verdict: Uninspired executions and B-grade actors

The Australian Human Rights Commission created a campaign labeled ‘Racism. It Stops With Me’ which aimed to highlight everyday racism, using taxis and elevators as an example.

Edmondston says:

“If the objective of these two ads is to make people re-think their own behaviour and be more aware what’s happening to others, then I believe they absolutely hit the mark. They’re a simple reminder that small and seemingly insignificant gestures can have a dramatic impact. Their basic execution makes them highly relatable, everyday scenarios with extremely normal characters – and the fact that they’re not overplayed makes them way more powerful and in the era of detention centres and the emergence of the far right in politics around the world, they’re timely.”

Fenton says:

“‘Racism. It Stops with Me’ is a strong message and Adam Goodes has been a great ambassador in the past for AHRC. But these uninspired executions and the B-grade acting only detract from the serious discussion these ads are meant to spark. Depth and authenticity are replaced by shallowness and the clichéd. Racism rears its ugly head in many spheres of life on a daily basis and these two examples may have happened and/or continue to happen in society, but they feel very narrow. I think there will be more discussion on the quality of the ads rather than the cause they are meant to be highlighting.”

Brand: McGuigan Wine
Agency: MKTG
The Verdict: “It misses the mark by a long shot” but it is attention grabbing

The out-of-home campaign set out to encourage Australians to bring a McGuigan wine next time, and avoid drinking terrible wine. The ads showed men and women cringing at bad wine.

Edmondston says:

“They say it’s always good to know the rules so you know when to break them… and now wasn’t the time. Next time… try some appetite appeal. This campaign tries to break the category, which is always a noble cause, but it misses the mark by a long shot. It’s not hard to see the strategy and it would have looked good on paper … Australian’s think wine culture is a bit of a toss – let’s use our down-to-earth sense of humour and have some fun! But these executions not only insult the sophistication of the Australian wine consumer, it actually puts me off drinking wine and has left me with an unpleasant taste for the McGuigan brand. There is a difference between a cheeky little campaign and one that’s on the nose.”

Fenton says:

“I’ve driven past one of the outdoor sites featuring the grimacing 20ft face of a man disgusted by the wine he has just drunk and he certainly got my attention. Is it the best execution on the planet? Who knows? But it quickly solves the issue we are all faced with when walking into a bottle shop of ‘Which bloody wine should I buy?’ Hopefully there are extensions of this in other channels that continue the conversation so sales don’t plummet, as is the usual case, after a big media spend.”

Brand: Citi Australia
Agency: Archibald / Williams
The Verdict: A generic campaign which took a “modernised spin on a very tried and tested formula”

In a new brand campaign for Citi Australia, the bank celebrates everyday Australians including a chef, rock climber and Aboriginal artist.

Edmondston says:

“I’m a bit sceptical about this kind of campaign. It feels easy. ‘Don’t tell people what we do, just align us with some awesome talent and maybe some of their ‘awesome’ will rub off on us’. It’s a modernised spin on a very tried and tested formula because (let’s face it) the celebrities of today are artists, innovators and entrepreneurs. As consumers we’re supposed to be left with a feeling that the bank enabled all of this greatness, but we have absolutely no idea how. That said, if I was actually told how, I’d probably be bored to tears. I think the bigger issue is that I don’t know why this concept is ownable to Citi Australia. It feels very generic – not just generic to the category… generic to advertising. It could be an ad for an airline, a university, a car… pretty much anything really with a shred of future facing DNA. If the next instalment in the campaign unveils that they’ve reimagined banking then I will reassess my opinion. I hope that is the case. I really wanted to like it, it’s enjoyable to watch and beautifully executed – it just needs a stronger link back to the brand.”

Fenton says:

“Looking at the Citi Australia TV commercial in isolation and judging it is a little unfair as there are other components to this campaign. What I’ve appreciated with the ‘Brand New World’ campaign is that they’ve introduced and connected us to inspiring entrepreneurs and a broader community who have problem solving at their core, which offers a nice alignment with Citi. I like that each entrepreneur featured feels real and that the tone suggests that we are all capable of embracing the future with optimism. I’d like to know more about these people, their inspiration and hopes for the future in their own ‘Brand New Worlds’.”

  • 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

Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.