Campaign Review: The verdict on Foxtel Now, Em Rusciano billboards, Golden Crumpets and Choice Hotels

In this series, Mumbrella invites the industry's most senior creatives and strategists to offer their views on the latest big marketing campaigns. This week: Guy Marshall, strategy director and partner, Bashful and Richard Morgan, executive creative director at 303Mullen Lowe.

Brand: Golden Crumpets
Agency: BMF
The Verdict: “Charming and Funny” and “appeals to both parents and kids”

Golden Crumpets’ latest campaign features a crumpet who is bored of always having butter and jam. As the ad progresses, Crumpet decides to change things and wear avocado, tomato and cheese instead, encouraging Australians to try something new on their crumpets.

Guy Marshall, strategy director and partner, Bashful, says:

Marshall: The ‘spot is charming and funny’

“Much like buying new underpants, eating crumpets is something I rarely do but always think, ‘This is bloody good, I should do this more often’. And I reckon that is a feeling shared by most. There would be a lot of latent, if not front-of-mind love for the Golden Crumpet.

So I buy into the strategy of emphasising the versatility of this delicious baked good to encourage us to think about them in a new way, increasing usage occasions and therefore selling a crumpet-load more.

The spot is charming and funny and does something that is often attempted but rarely achieved. It tells a tongue-in-cheek story that feels birthed from the zeitgeist (you are a special flower and can be anything you want to be!) while delivering a whole load of product-based, potentially very boring, messaging. And it does so in 30 seconds. Bravo.

The line ‘Unleash the Golden Crumpet’ is funny. There is a clear literal meaning but the secondary meaning is vague and strangely empowering, it makes me want to get on a table, don a golden shimmery dress and unleash some moves to David Bowie’s Modern Love. But that might just be me.

The ad will work well for them but the real test will be how they activate this proposition through the line. If they can use in-store, point of sale and digital to inspire people to give non-traditional crumpet eating a go they will have a particularly strong proposition and one that could live for years.”

Richard Morgan, executive creative director at 303Mullen Lowe, says:

Morgan: “This spot is preaching to the converted”

“I love crumpets with peanut butter and fresh tomato on top. People tell me I’m crazy and often go ‘Yuk’ – don’t diss it until you try it – so for me, this spot is preaching to the converted.

This ad clearly has a laundry list of business objectives to tick off, the core of which is getting families to use crumpets in new, non-traditional ways. So creating an engaging 30-second TV ad that can do all that heavy lifting is a tricky task. Happily, BMF have achieved it quite neatly.

The animation contains some lovely details that reveal themselves on further viewings and it tells a story; though the pace of the edit moves so fast that one can’t help but feel it was written originally (and would work better) as a longer spot, shrunk to size by media budget. It has appeal to both parents and kids which is also key in this market. All-in- all, a solid effort.”

Brand: Choice Hotels
Agency: Akkomplice Group Australia
The Verdict: “They’ve decided to depress me into taking a holiday” 

The one-minute ad shows employees in an office going wild, throwing things around and setting printers on fire, insinuating bored employees should take a break and go on a holiday.

Marshall says:

“Over the last 20 years I’ve stayed at every hotel within the Choice Hotels portfolio. But up until receiving this brief from Mumbrella had never realised these disparate brands were united under one company. I think the first principle of advertising a group of hotels underneath a master brand that is largely unknown is fundamentally flawed.

People don’t buy P&G, they shave with Gilette. Nor do they buy Unilever, rather they wash with OMO. People don’t stay with Choice Hotels, they spend a night at the Comfort Inn Mudgee. And from here the logic doesn’t get much better.

Great ads work by telling you about a brand, why that brand is great, is needed or is going to improve your life in some way. This campaign doesn’t touch on why Choice Hotels are awesome or unique and provides no distinctive branding.

Instead of inspiring me to choose Choice, they’ve decided to depress me into taking a holiday. I understand the desire to break category norms, and it is an admirable one, but I’d rather see the holiday thank you very much.

The ad directs you to a website that features ‘inspirational travel content.’ This reminds me of Louis CK’s comment about pornography; we should stop making it, there’s already more than could be viewed in a lifetime. Creating a website that competes with TripAdvisor and Google Maps is like building a competitor to PornHub, ambitious, quite a lot of fun, but foolhardy.

Our industry can get quite drunk on plotting out linear consumer journeys that deny personal agency or our iPhone-induced three-second attention spans. In this case we are supposed to believe that someone is going to see this ad, feel depressed enough about their shitty office life and decide they need a holiday. Then go online to Needabreak.com, learn about a holiday destination and then book a holiday making sure they stay at one of the Choice Hotel brands.

The Wallabies winning the Bledisloe this year is more likely than even one person doing this.”

Morgan says: 

“Stress, pressure, deadlines? Sorry, I’m in advertising; never heard of them and am not in the target market. But I’m a big believer that TV is a visual medium, so I’ll praise this spot in that they’ve created something that is reasonably visually engaging, albeit heavily inspired by a funny scene in the movie Office Space where they take a baseball bat to the office copier.

Still, given the depth of research undertaken, I can’t help but feel there could have been a deeper insight uncovered than ‘workers are stressed.’ Or, if that truly is the insight that resonates most, it could have been delivered in a more unexpected way.

I’d also say that the spot focuses on the ‘problem’ rather than what Choice Hotels offer – a much-deserved break and a choice of accommodation. Which is something that Booking.com has done admirably with ‘Booking dot yeah’.

Ultimately it’s vaguely entertaining, but feels a little hollow.”


Brand: Foxtel
Agency: TBWA
What they said: It didn’t “cut the mustard” and “there are a number of issues”

The advertisement saw a group of diverse people talking about watching a new show while speaking in unison and saying “spaghetti bolognese” together, to drive home the idea Foxtel Now is for everyone.

Marshall says:

“I am not an early adopter of technology. This is probably not what you are meant to say as a planner at a cool (self-described) independent agency. But there you go; I’ve said it. At my place we run our Netflix and Stan off of an old Halo special edition Playstation that has affixed to its side a black, plastic appendage that is apparently meant to be a land mine. We have been living dangerously.

We recently bought a Google Chromecast that sits unopened next to the television, I’m hopeful my housemate will soon take pity on me and get it working. I give you these details to emphasise that I’m no expert on this category. I come to it with some healthy ignorance and general confusion about what the different products and brands are.

A quick read online tells me that Foxtel Now is a rebrand of an old Foxtel product that was rebranded only a short while before that. Had I not done a look around I wouldn’t have understood what Foxtel Now was by just watching that ad. And let me tell you, were I not on the clock, I wouldn’t have done that look around.

I don’t believe Foxtel is going to achieve a foothold in the streaming game through rebrands and nice-looking ads. They are up against Amazon and Netflix, two of the coolest, most well-known brands on the planet.

They need to answer the simple question” Why should I choose Foxtel Now over the competitors? Soft, weasel-word claims like the one in this ad won’t cut the mustard. “Stream the best choice of the world’s biggest shows.” We get it, you have Game of Thrones. But what else? And why do you have complex, opaque pricing structures? And why do I have to pay triple to get the sport, the only thing I actually want?

Before going through more rebrands and making more ads they need to build a quality, differentiated product that will stand up to the best services from around the world. A simply-articulated, differentiated benefit will get the attention of the confused and tech ignorant around the country. People like me.”

Morgan says:

“I like the new logo – so points there. But when it comes to the TV spot – the centrepiece of a re-launch tasked with engaging a whole new audience – there are a number of issues. I had to watch it three times to try and understand it. And even now I’m not sure I do.

The seismic challenges facing the pay TV industry are not something I could do justice to or even be entirely qualified to unravel here. But looking at this spot, it simply does not reflect the scale of that mammoth challenge. It’s not slick, the dialogue is disjointed like haiku poetry and it’s light on budget.

Look to the UK, where the BBC and Channel 4 have been doing brilliant channel promos for years. They’ve draw upon the top talent, filmmaking expertise and deep pockets of the whole organisation.

I know it’s easy to criticise, but this is just not that. And why is everyone standing in a neon lit warehouse saying spaghetti bolognaise?”

Brand: Southern Cross Austereo
Agency: In-house
What they said: “A bit of a disappointment” and “the brand deserves more”

Marshall says: 

“I confess that as of last week I didn’t know who Em Rusciano or Harley Breen were. But since spending an hour with them on YouTube I’ve discovered that Em in particular is bloody funny and quite a talent.

As a consequence I think these billboards are a bit of a disappointment. There’s nothing wrong with them as straightforward visual pieces but they miss a big opportunity. 2DayFM has struggled to get listeners for this show but it strikes me that they have a good product. Surely the best way to get listeners for the show would be to give people a taste of the product.

An online film, a media cross promotion or some kind of stunt would be a much better way to give people an Em Rusciano experience and get them tuning into the show.

The radio show you choose to listen to is quite a personal choice. Out of home is a great medium for keeping brands top of mind and is effective at reinforcing memory structures that already exist. But what if you know little about the product being advertised? I wonder if it is the right medium to convince people to spend an hour every morning with two people they don’t know and maybe have never heard of.

A successful campaign would involve giving people the thing they don’t know they want, Em Rusciano.”

Morgan says:

“Ah, whatever happened to the classic poster? You know those witty, devilishly clever pieces of communication that reduced an entire brand’s DNA down to six words or less with an image that not only told you something but also brought a smile to your face?

Here the poster is just a photo of Em and Harley pulling funny faces, a logo and a hen on Harley’s shoulder in one execution. So all I can really say is that this brand deserves more. More strategy. More idea. More wit. More love. Apparently a TV spot is rolling out, so hopefully that will make me eat my words and explain the hen.”

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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