Campaign Review: The verdict on Woolmark’s timely film, Berlei’s missing respect and Honda’s holy grail of advertising

Mumbrella invites the industry’s most senior creatives and strategists to offer their views on the latest ad campaigns. This week: Brother & Co's Tharina Haas and Red Engine SCC's Jye Smith offer their views on Woolmark's engaging and emotive ad, Sukin's problematic campaign idea, Berlei's outstanding statement and Honda's holy grail of advertising.

Brand: Woolmark
Agency: TBWA Sydney
The Verdict: Timely, engaging and emotive

Tharina Haas, senior strategist at Brother & Co, says:

Haas says “he narrative will be lost unless TBWA can manage to highlight the juxtaposition of the hardness of the synthetic dystopia and the natural softness of wool”

“It is clearly not advertising in the one-minute made-for-TV sense, and I don’t think it was intended to be. It is clear that it is intended to be a film. What is not apparent is how TBWA intends to take it to the world. The movie certainly is engaging and emotive. Let’s hope it resonates with the intended audience is for the movie.

“I imagine the sweeping message and sentiment would be hard to convey in out-of-home media. The narrative will be lost unless TBWA can manage to highlight the juxtaposition of the hardness of the synthetic dystopia and the natural softness of wool. In the film, the music works hard to highlight the plight of the protagonist. It sweeps us along her journey towards and highlights her resolve to find something natural in a dismal, fabricated future. Out-of-home will be hard-pressed to achieve the same sense as the movie.

“Consumers at large are in my opinion not the audience this ad will resonate with. The film does a category job on the benefits of wool, and whether there is an uplift in Australian Merino wool sales as a result of buy-in from the industry (which manufactures wool products creates demand for wool via various brands) depends on what else TBWA and Woolmark have planned as part of a holistic solution aimed at solving a systemic problem.

“We have to assume TBWA is invested in their moral obligation to ensure success for their client against the ginormous expense this movie would have incurred. If an award achieves that objective, then so be it. Let’s imagine they’re doing what I would do, and that they have a strategic intent with the movie/ad. Then its release and screening might coincide with major events in the global cities listed and that it is targeted at textile aficionados; it should start to create a ripple effect from the luxury-inclined source of all-that-requires-wool.”

Rating: 10/10 for production and score (an original composition created by Squeak E. Clean Productions exclusively for The Woolmark Company) and 9/10 for the futuristic sheep

Jye Smith, general manager and head of strategy at Red Engine SCC, says: 

Smith says: “This is still definitely advertising: it’s a message, it’s a moment, but most importantly, you acknowledge that’s what it is and you keep watching”

“I really like this – it feels timely. It doesn’t feel like a bit of award-bait, it actually feels like someone thought about it (which they obviously did) but then drew out what everyone else was feeling and couldn’t quite place their finger on.

“A return to what is real is happening around the world – whether it’s your next hipster craft brew, or doing an urban bee-keeping course.

“But for two-minutes 30 seconds, is there really enough to say? Could it say more? Should it say more? It feels like a question or a sentence half-finished. I think this will inspire purchase. There’s such a push out there to re-think what we’re buying to clothe ourselves in (hat tip to Adidas’ use of recycled plastic).

“Those sheep would make a fantastic piece of out-of-home. There’s a great deal of world building here for such a short film, which is remarkable. This is still definitely advertising: it’s a message, it’s a moment, but most importantly, you acknowledge that’s what it is and you keep watching.”

Rating: 8/10

Brand: Sukin
Agency: Thinkerbell
The Verdict: Strategically smart but it feels unfinished

Haas says:

“‘Nothing But Special’ is a great positioning through which to illuminate the lack of nasties in Sukin. I think the communication piece is strategically smart, as it serves both to educate us (lay people) about what to look out for in our skincare products, and avoid, as well as create an ownable space for Sukin to illustrate that the product is special for not containing any poison (proverbially of course).

“To me, it’s a double-edged sword. I appreciate that the creative is sparse and serene and contains only the product as a metaphor for ‘nothing but special’. Clever, right?

“However, the campaign idea ‘It’s what we leave out that makes us special’ is a little problematic for me. It has had the unintended effect of prompting me to think that Sukin is only special because there’s nothing bad for you in it. This is a problem because, as brands, we go to great pains to make ourselves stand out, and to have ‘a thing’ to hang our hats on. That one thing that makes our brand special. So what is that thing for Sukin? Is it nothing? Whatever it is, I feel it does not come across in the creative execution or message.

“Success or brilliance of this campaign is subjective unless there were clear KPIs. The strategist in me loves that the visual metaphor is so strong in its simplicity, but the designer in me feels it could have been executed as cleverly but with a bit more consideration. The marketer in me wants to know what the intention was with the execution and what Sukin was aiming to achieve in media.”

Rating: 8/10 for positioning and strat work, 5/10 for creative execution and 1/10 for implying Sukin is only special because there’s nothing bad for you in it (lack of emotional connection beyond product)

Smith says:

“In a world where we are told to do more, need more, want more – it’s refreshing, and almost calming, to have a brand say something else. It’s not about a fancy fabric, ingredients or features – it literally does what it says (or doesn’t say?) on the tin.

“But I don’t understand the creative. I actually checked my WiFi connection and my screen to make sure nothing was broken.

“This definitely plays more to outdoor. But again: there’s still too much to be minimalistic? So it feels unfinished?

“The question here is whether this is enough to make customers believe? I understand it, but I have no urgency or affinity, no matter how many times I look at it. Clever, just not sure it works.”

Rating: 6/10

Brand: Berlei
Agency: The Monkeys
The Verdict: Brilliant creative which makes a statement but the execution lacked grace and respect

Haas says:

“My understanding from the Berlei website is that they’re trying to sell ‘the best support for sport’ and motivates us ladies to buy their sports bras because Berlei uses ‘single breast encapsulation’ considering that ‘boobs don’t play as a team’.

“If we were to measure the ad’s narrative against the above, I feel the intent is missing in the execution.

“We see booby balls bouncing everywhere. In the 39th second, the audience are implored to ‘stop your boobs playing their own game’ with Berlei. Ladies with sports paraphernalia appear. They look pleased with themselves. End ad. Absent from the narrative is the reason why Berlei sports brassieres are better for my bosom and how single breast encapsulation that cancels out the left-breast-doesn’t-know-what-the-right-is-up-to phenomenon.

“I’m not sure whether the agency’s intention was to shock us or to show the power of the product using balls (which also look like breasts) as a metaphor for a bouncy bust. While I think the idea makes a statement, I feel that it could have been executed with more grace and respect. When watching the spot, I don’t feel the support the product is supposed to give, I only feel the trauma of the bosoms being beaten.

“In this particular execution, the music acts as a diffuser between the mental discomfort caused by the active maltreatment of the boobs and the quirky scenery. I’m not sure whether it was intentional, but the outcome is a disconnect between the unease caused, the auditory joy the track creates and the peppy visual aesthetic.”

Rating: 10/10 for cut-through, 5/10 for messaging in the ad not aligning with RTB on the website, 4/10 for not sticking to the feel-good honesty of last year’s ad to extend the existing brand narrative and 3/10 for the sheer discomfort the ad caused my boobs and I.

Smith says:

“The music makes this ad. I watched it on mute afterwards and the mood is, well, uh, gone. Without it, this ad would be lost. The creative is brilliant, but I’m not sure it quite meets the strategic message. Is this about pain, protection or care? However, I think the message is simpler: we’ll look after your breasts no matter what you’re doing. And maybe that’s plenty.

“The execution is kinetic, colourful and provocative. Everything we want in a progressive conversation about breasts (and nipples).

“I think it’s a great continuation from last year’s Womankind. But, it is definitely weird, where Womankind was real.”

Rating: 7/10

Brand: Honda
Agency: Leo Burnett
The Verdict: Simple strategy with resonance despite not being relatable

Haas says:

“While we as marketers assess ads on their strategic intent, everyday consumers assess ads on whether they make them feel something. Funny, sad, angry, inspired, shocked – if an ad elicits an emotional response, the creative team has managed to achieve the holy grail of ads – resonance. Honda achieves both resonance and relevance in this advert. It’s funny and it speaks to real-life people and situations. I’d venture that while the strategy is not obvious to consumers, the strategic intent is certainly achieved with the full-length ad.

“As it stands, the strategy is not complicated at all. In the modern context of advertising, where we’re trying to get ‘personal’ on a larger scale, it shows consideration of the people who use Hondas. Yes, it was flighted on TV and that’s mass media, but I am of the opinion that the guys at Leo Burnett have done a great job of cleverly bringing to life the features of the car and creating a sense of accessibility among a wide range of consumers.

“If the aim was to get the car into the consideration set consumers, then the ad (which is selling us car features that relate back to particular consumer needs) manages to illustrate, in a fun and memorable way, everything that makes the Honda HR-V ‘different’ and lands the idea that the car is ‘for anyone’ – a variety of different people.”

Rating: 10/10 for using consumer insights as inspiration to lead creative and strategy, 7/10 for expanding the ad beyond TV into immersive content and 1/10 for not tactfully responding to comments on YouTube videos arguing that Nick is transsexual

Smith says:

“I’m openly not a fan of most automotive advertising. But the last thing anyone wants to be told is that it doesn’t matter who you are, you will all like the same thing.

“I don’t think this is relatable, and I don’t feel comfortable laughing at people who, well, aren’t weird enough to be novel, but are not normal enough to be real. It’s just empty.

“Honda’s are great cars to drive, too. Which might be a boring piece of messaging, but at least that’s something: you might want to go and test drive one? This literally could be any fun, single-person-SUV for anyone.

“On the other hand, it’s enough to make you know the car is in market, and that you should consider it. But you could probably find a much quicker way to say that.”

Rating: 6/10

  • 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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