Campaign Review: Two musical ads that hit the right notes

In this week's Campaign Review, The Station Agency's managing partner and creative director, Ian Cassidy, and Howatson+Company's planning director, Georgia Pritchard, take centre stage to take a look at musical advertisements from the Sydney Opera House and Menulog, via The Monkeys and McCann London, respectively.

In Campaign Review, Mumbrella invites industry creatives and strategists to offer their views on recent ad campaigns.

Brand: Sydney Opera House

Campaign: ‘Play it Safe’ – SOH’s 50th Birthday ft. Tim Minchin

Agency: The Monkeys

The verdict: A tribute the iconic building deserves.

Ian Cassidy, managing partner and creative director at The Station Agency, gave it a 9/10, and said:

Other than Anfield, and the Indian Chilli restaurant in Surry Hills that was pulled down after a council digger mistakenly went through its walls, I’m not one for getting sentimental about buildings. But it’s hard not to feel the emotional punch of this spot. Nostalgia. Joy. Pride. I felt it all watching this ode to the Nuns in a Scrum, and I’m not even Australian.

Tim Minchin is an inspired pick as the Sydney Opera House manifest in human form: unapologetically unconventional, much-loved, and multi-faceted. There’s a great cast of ensemble characters pointing to the diverse groups the Opera House has served as home to. And the news clippings talk to its rich and storied history. But fittingly, it’s the building itself that steals the show. Beautifully framed and lit, the director has captured its complex geometry in full glory.

In truth, it has more of an Oscars’ opening number feel to it than that of an ad. And that feels like the tribute this iconic building deserves.

Georgia Pritchard, planning director at Howatson+Company, gave it an 8/10, and said: 

What a delight.

Hats off to the team for creating a brilliant follow-up to Ship Song that manages to be introspective, without being self-indulgent.

Outside of the Matildas, Australia can feel like it’s in a bit of a vacuum of pride at the moment. But this manages to celebrate a moment in our history, the creation of the SOH, when we were brave and bold.

I also really like that the work has a point of view. It stands up for the need for the arts to provoke and spark debate.

My only build would be that for a celebration of taking risks, the execution feels rather tame. I’d love to have seen some more of the weird and wacky flair that Tim Minchin’s known for, but I also appreciate that this feels like an accurate reflection of SOH’s programming; brilliantly high-calibre, with slightly softer edges.

Nonetheless, a stirring piece of work that made me revere the SOH even more.

Brand: Menulog

Campaign: ‘Did Somebody Say?’ ft. Christina Aguilera

Agency: McCann London

The verdict: Big budget, even bigger talent, but does it miss the mark?

Ian gave it a 6/10, and said:

Full disclosure. I’ve never been one for Christina Aguilera’s high-pitched warbling. And wow, is it in full ear-splitting effect here. I’m also much more of a fan of the local ‘Dolla Dolla Deals’ work. Having said that, there are things to like about this ad.

Firstly, it’s a continuation of a core idea they’ve been running for a few years now, which they manage to keep fresh and relevant by using famous talent that will appeal to their audience (although I must admit I had to ask my kids who ‘Latto’ was). It’s always entertaining to hear how they’ve managed to turn food items into lyrics. And the sung tag at the end is a proper earworm. So, as far as applying the laws and principles of marketing science goes, the brand attribution and engagement for this spot is likely high.

However, the message about Menulog now delivering more than just takeaway got a little lost for me, as 70% of the ad was spent singing about how Menulog delivers takeaway. And did I mention the warbling? Unfortunately, the falling chandelier missed its mark by a few feet.

Georgia gave it a 6.5/10, and said: 

A very big budget that can get in the way of its idea.

I really commend their commitment to a long-term platform, pursuit of cultural cachet and making work that feels more like a music video than an ad. I am also very much looking forward to the renaissance of Christina Aguilera – brilliant casting choice.

It’s always tricky with these briefs to find the next chapter of a long story; to inject new interest into a well-established platform.

But in this case, with new news to deliver, it felt like the execution overpowered the message.

As both brands are moving beyond takeaway food, it’s helpful to compare Menulog’s approach to announcing that with Uber Eats’.

Both employ celebrities to create fame and salience, but it feels like one has a narrative purpose – the other uses them as a mouthpiece for a jingle. ‘Get almost, almost anything’ was brilliantly single-minded and confident in its announcement. But Menulog’s message is not the proud star of its ad – Christina Aguilera is.

As told to Lauren McNamara.

If you are a senior creative or strategist who would like to take part in a future Campaign Review, please email Lauren at


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