Campaign Review: The verdict on Dry July, Chatime, Nike and The Bottom 100

In this series, Mumbrella invites senior creatives and strategists to offer their views on the latest big marketing campaigns. This week: Phil Watson, executive creative director, Momentum Worldwide and Alison Tilling, head of planning at BMF.

Brand: The Dry July Foundation
Agency: Clemenger BBDO Sydney
The Verdict: Emotionally engaging but job only half done

This year’s Dry July campaign drew parallels between hangovers and the health of a cancer patient, aiming to get more Australians to be sponsored not to drink this month.

Phil Watson, executive creative director, Momentum Worldwide, says:

Watson said the ad was missing the “rational bit”

“This is great. I saw the twist coming immediately but I’m reviewing instead of just watching so my ad-nerd radar is fully engaged. I think most people will get a little surprise, and it’s handled in a sympathetic enough way to avoid being off-putting or preachy.

Will it push people over the edge to act? Probably not on its own. What it does beautifully is tell me that going dry this July is connected to helping people with cancer. I can relate to it, my emotions are engaged, what I need now is the rational bit that says how I can help.

Perhaps this could have been handled in the ad without sacrificing the clarity. I hope there’s some equally powerful action driving stuff to back this up because half the job has been done extremely well.”

Alison Tilling, head of planning at BMF, says:

Tilling: “It’s an impactful twist at the end too, though that does mean it’s a campaign that can only really run once.”

“The idea delivers the message that there is a broader cause at play. It’s an impactful twist at the end too, though that does mean it’s a campaign that can only really run once.

So it got me thinking…but it left me with a few questions, and I wanted it to pack more of a punch than it did.

The messaging, and ultimately the ‘hero’ of the ad, is about doing Dry July, not contributing to the cause – and that was likely the primary objective. But the subconscious out-take is somehow that the man who is ill has contracted cancer through drinking, and given the age bracket of the blokes cast, that feels like an extreme situation that is easy to put in the ‘that won’t happen to me’ basket. I found the tone really sombre and heavy, for an ad that’s encouraging people to take part in something that’s already a month-long trial. Compare it to say Red Nose Day or Movember, which raise money for a serious cause but with an infectious levity…this kinda made me want to reach for the bottle, not give it up.”

Brand: Chatime
Agency: The Sphere Agency
The Verdict: Close to brilliant but not quite nonsensical enough

Iced tea brand Chatime has launched a new ‘Enjoy It’ campaign incuding a man dressed as a mermaid sipping tea on a rock.

Watson says:

“I paid attention, I found the merman one especially giggle worthy .

Overall though, these are possibly close to being brilliant. However, they fall short on two main counts. Assuming there’s a market for a youthfully random tea brand, their first fail is attempting to make sense. The unnecessary VO (is that Gyton Grantley again?) tries to convey rational product info that I could barely take in. I kind of wish it had been a mad nonsensical Asian VO.

Secondly, and much more importantly, the branding is weak. Given that their primary job is brand awareness, that’s a big fail. These problems could be easily fixed with some bolder type and logo design. The added benefit would be that they would work much better on mobile / social which I assume is where their audience will be, unless they’ve done something really bonkers, in which case I can only marvel and applaud.”

Tilling says:

“There’s unexpected irreverence and there is weird for the love of weird, and this falls into the latter category. While that’s not always an unsuccessful strategy – especially for a brand that is literally about shaking it up – this is neither funny enough to work as social content nor well-executed enough to really establish the new flavours and build the brand.

I’m not the target audience, but I think it’s partly that there is no real twist on a truth here. It’s a very literal interpretation of quirk and that loses its humour and heart. That said, a bit of a delve around some of the comments on the Chatime Facebook page proves that the brand does walk the quirky talk, and their followers seem to love them for it. And a previous piece of content with a parody of Kim Jong-Un is funnier and edgier. So these pieces will probably preach to the converted, but given they’re fundamentally not well-crafted enough to be shared by many, their effect beyond that will likely be limited.”

Brand: Nike
Agency: Wieden+Kennedy
The Verdict: A lot to love about the writing, if not the direction

Nike launched its first Australian brand campaign in a decade, using legendary US creative agency W+K  to create the “No Turning Back” campaign featuring Australian sportspeople giving themselves no other option other than to just do it and take the challenge.

Watson says:

“There are briefs that are difficult because the proposition is rubbish, because the product and category are dull and cliché bound, because no budget or a million other becauses that lead to mundane advertising.

And then there is Nike. Which is difficult because the bar is so frigging high. So you can probably guess what’s coming. I think these are ok. But not amazing. Which feels like a bit of a let down.

I like the idea behind them. ‘No turning back’ feels like a great statement of intent and attitude, and perfectly Nike. I actually wonder why they didn’t use it as the line, rather than a line that needlessly explains what you’ve just seen.

But for me the big issue is a basic lack of emotional resonance. I just don’t buy the museum scene or the handcuff scene. Maybe it’s the direction, maybe they were just never really going to work. I think if you’re going to inspire everyone the ideas should have been a bit more everyone.

Which is why I almost love the one where the girl ditches her car off a cliff to run home. It’s still a bit overplayed, I don’t think the explosion was needed. If the car had slithered to a pathetic halt it might have been better. But overall it feels slightly more real and the long intro really worked to keep me guessing. It’s also a perfect encapsulation of no turning back, I wonder if they had that script first and then struggled to top it?”

Tilling says:

“There is a lot to love here. There is a bit of aggression, a boldness in the tone that is captivating because I’m more used to seeing it in the context of the actual sports fields or in the competitive arena. But most interesting here is that they’ve found a new area of motivation.

“In a time when we can get ‘an app for that’, taking the technology out of it and exploring a new extreme of motivation from within is pretty cool. Is it vintage Nike? Not for me, but it’s very strong work. I also really like the outdoor that goes with this – seeing a massive ad about running home instead of driving home on the Anzac Bridge every night has finally got me digging out the running shoes and getting back into it.”

Brand: Fund For Peace
Agency: Havas
The Verdict: “The start of something good” and “a few things aren’t working as well as they could”

This online campaign is a twist on the many ‘rich lists’, aiming to shed light on the world’s 100 poorest people and their stories.

Watson says:

“When I saw this I instantly thought of one of my favourite pieces of work ever also called the ‘Global Rich List’ by Poke London. They created a microsite that let you calculate where you are in the global rich list. The genius is that If you’re even thinking of doing it, you’re in the top 10% or so. More billionaires than beggar. The idea appealed to the basic egotistical desire to know how successful you are and then hit you with sucker punch that said looks like you can afford to donate, so dig deep.

Did it drive much donation or action? Maybe not, but it also didn’t cost much to do. Which is a long way of saying I’m not sure the obvious effort put into The Bottom 100 will deliver as much as it could.

I could be missing something – the accompanying blurb says there will be work in other channels – but even if you get to the website it doesn’t tell you enough about how your action will help. Yes you need to engage the emotions first, but driving action means making it clear what your part in solving the problem will be. They’ve even got a ‘see where you are on the rich list’ calculator like the Poke thing but the donate bit just throws you straight into PayPal. And if the idea is getting people to share the profiles would it not have been better to keep it focussed in social?

It doesn’t feel good to criticise something that obviously has noble intentions at heart. Humanising the world’s poorest people is an important and effective way to create the empathy required for action. There’s the start of something good here, I hope there’s more to come.”

Tilling says:

“Love this idea, it’s simple and powerful – and they’ve even carried the 100 motif through to the credit list. The photography is absolutely stunning and that, together with the stories of the “Bottom 100” featured, vividly captures the subjects’ dignity in the face of horrors most of us will be lucky enough never to face.

But…and there is a but…a few things aren’t working as well as they could, and should. Unfortunately one of those things is the site itself, and the navigation through the 100 people featured. Rich lists are sometimes a compelling read because their writers pull out different groupings within, or highlight different stories, borrowing a few more of those cues might have made the juxtaposition between the Top 100 style lists and this one, even more powerful – and made it easier to read more of the stories.

This feels like a long-term idea, there are many ways the story could build. One thing that must improve is clarity on what the desired action is on seeing this. What exactly is the charity itself, do they want me to donate or just ‘add my voice’ as the endline says – and if so, how do I do that? I would also loved to have found out more about how the 100 people were found or chosen. Overall though, powerful stuff.”

  • 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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