Campaign Review: The verdict on Metamucil, Fanta, the NRL and Four Seasons

In a new series, Mumbrella invites the industry's most senior creatives and strategists to offer their views on the latest big marketing campaigns. This week: Mammal's creative partner Luke Chess and The Core Agency's strategy director Simon Rich.

Brand: Metamucil – When Nugget met Metamucil
Agency: McCann Health
The verdict: A ‘breath of fresh air’ but ‘not relevant to the target audience’

The ad tells the love story of Ms Meta Mucil and a man named Nugget in a parody of dating show The Bachelor.

Luke Chess, creative partner at Mammal:

“Well there’s no doubting the intention to do something different here, and for that alone I applaud it. Compared to the functional, scientific stuff that generally passes (excuse the pun) for OTC pharma ads, this is a breath of fresh air (another pun?).

On TV, this would be bold, noticeable and have heaps of cut-through. But I do wonder about the decision to go solely with social to share this.

At over two-minutes long, you have to ask: will people opt into watching enough of it? I guess the data boffins will provide the answer to that, but my concern is that despite its difference and humour, it’s still ‘addy’ in its messaging approach.

I try to imagine whether people will be moved to share it, or at least to say ‘Have you seen that Metamucil video?’ And I’m not sure I can honestly say that I see that happening. There are more than a couple of chortles in this, but they’re cheap laughs and, to my mind at least, not share-worthy.

It also feels like something of a one-off. There may be an almost bottomless (ahem) pit of poo jokes to draw upon, but I’m not sure how much mileage you’d get from continuing to mine that vein. ‘The fun(ny) laxative’ doesn’t feel like a compelling positioning, given the nature of the users’ problem.

There’s really smart integration of efficacy and benefit into the creative though. I’d consider a 30 second cut-down on TV where it might really stand out and cut through.”

Simon Rich, strategy director at The Core Agency: 

“After about two weeks Metamucil’s The Bachelor’s Nugget and contestant Ms Meta Mucil online content had about two million views. Almost certainly, to achieve this number in that time, there would have been paid support. Still two million views is a very impressive number. This campaign certainly has saliency: cringe-worthy poo jokes work! And highly attention grabbing creative content makes for a very cost-efficient campaign.

Constipation is not something people want to talk or hear about. It’s easy to get sympathy from work colleagues for a sore throat or even a bout of food positioning – but when was the last time you heard somebody say they were suffering from constipation? Yet constipation is one of common ailments affecting Australians.

The Metamucil campaign looks to address this stigma head on with a brave, although cringe worthy creative that aims to use humour to ‘normalise’ this embarrassing problem. As a general viewer it’s entertaining, mainly for its shock value. I wonder however if sufferers would view it the same way?

This campaign trivialises the condition, it laughs and makes fun a group of people who are already feeling lonely and isolated. This is where the campaign falls down. Imagine the poor sufferer – bloated, sluggish, feeling embarrassed and isolated as they approach the medical isle in the supermarket.

The core idea behind this campaign is not relevant to the target audience therefore it’s unlikely that this is the start of a long-term brand message for Metamucil.

The Bachelor’s Nugget and contestant Ms Meta Mucil delivers strong cut-through in the cluttered online space. However it’s achieved at the expense of a sustainable brand message. The big opportunity is to build campaign around a core idea that balances creative cut through with audience sensitivity.”

Brand: Fanta – Shake Things Up with Fanta (OOH)
Agency: Ogilvy
What they said: A great approach but not compelling enough with a ‘random quirkiness’

The outdoor execution involved three fridge Citylight panels with 30 magnets each, encouraging passers-by to create their own messages. For those who uploaded their message to a microsite – a free Fanta Jelly Fizz was on offer.

Luke Chess says:

“The thing about working in advertising and marketing is, it attracts people who like ads and marketing. And if we’re not careful, we end up assuming that everyone else likes ads and marketing too.

So we invite people to ‘be part of the message’, to ‘join the creation’ and any number of other things that the vast majority of people actually have not a lot of interest in.

And that’s the fundamental problem with this piece, I think. Unless the creative team managed to get the word ‘fuck’ included among the fridge poetry selection, I reckon most kids won’t really want to play (though the agency’s friends in the video sure are having a good time).

Surely too, given that the redemption mechanic itself involves mobile, a mobile interface to place words onto the advertisement would be more practical than physical magnet pieces?

It’s a shame, because Fanta Jelly Fizz looks like a fun-though- faddish kind of product, and getting it into people’s hands via outdoor sampling is a great approach.

Outdoor is a fantastic medium for this kind of thing, with extra advantage for the brand of high visibility to passing traffic. Alas I’m not sure that ‘shake-up the message’ is compelling or direct enough for a can of jelly drink that you need to physically shake.”

Simon Rich says:

Turning a blind eye to massive sugar levels, Fanta’s new Jelly Fizz looks like an interesting innovation, (if you are a 13 year old that is). You shake the can and the liquid turns to Jelly.

There are three support pillars to the campaign.
1. An outdoor installation in three major cities.
2. Endorsement/instruction video by vlogger Jacko Brazier.
3. Social media engagement campaign where, using pre-designed visual assets, people can: design their own outdoor billboards; customise sporting equipment (skateboards and surf boards); design their own Snapchat lens or produce their own sound mix.

All this activity aims to play to teenagers’ desire for novelty and demand new interactive experiences. It has a kind of random quirkiness to it. Most of the content (the pre-designed visual assets) however looks like it would appeal to the very young end of the market. This could create big problems if parents of children at this age veto their child’s engagement with a high-sugar brand. As for older teenagers, this campaign lacks street cred.

Crowd sourcing creative can work if there is a bigger idea behind it, like tourism Queensland’s best job in the world. In this situation however it’s not clear why people should ‘shake things up’ beyond childish irreverence.

The weakest link is the outdoor instillations. There are only three of them (one in each city) so the thinking must be to create sharable content. This is where the lack of a core idea really stands out. Passers-by are asked to ‘shake up’ Fanta’s 30-word marketing message to make their-own fun message. ‘Take a photo of your creation and upload it to a micro site you get a fee can from the out of home panel’.

The problem is it’s not clear why any one would want to do this; it’s a lot of effort for a single can of Fanta. Importantly it’s not clear why anyone would want to engage with the content on social media. The panels were up for about a week in mid April. On the 24 April there was no sign of the activity on the micro site – clearly not successful.

Turning outdoor furniture into objects can form effective marketing activity. But like any marketing communication, it needs a strong core idea behind the activation to be successful.

Brand: NRL – ‘Nothing hits you quite like Origin’
Agency: Archibald / Williams
Verdict: Would ‘do well’ in cinema with an ‘appropriate’ creative strategy

The ad features Queensland and New South Wales fans crowding the stadium and stomping on the ground in anticipation of the first game, while NRL players prepare in the locker room.

Luke Chess says: 

“First up, a note of disclosure. I was the ECD at the incumbent agency for the NRL in late 2015, when the account went to pitch and Archibald/Williams won it.

And I very much admired the work A/W subsequently created: ‘History Happens’. It integrated fan-shot footage to create a real sense of the emotional value of being there for the game, and it felt really fresh for the NRL and for sport.

This spot doesn’t. There is tremendous craft involved in it – not least in creating the sense of a crowd of 80,000+ with what I know would have only been a handful of extras and some existing footage – and the audio track is big and compelling. It would probably do well in cinema, where the sound system is sufficient to do it justice. But for me, it’s a side-step around the truly fan-centred work of the NRL’s 2016 and 2017 home-and- away seasons.

The good news is Origin is a big enough extravaganza to pull a crowd anyway. But this ad feels staged-and- shot, rather than real, and it moves rugby league away from what made the ‘History Happens’ campaign great: authentic fan involvement.”

Simon Rich says:

“Much like a great suspense film, where the action is mostly off-screen, this communication encourages the viewer to use their imagination about what comes next. The creative strategy: you have to be there to properly experience State of Origin melodrama.

By deliberately not showing on-field action the campaign highlights that State of Origin is much more than an a spectacle. Attending the game in person is an emotive experiential journey that starts well before the opening whistle. It even implies viewing it on TV will not do it justice. Considering the campaign objective is to drive game day attendance (not TV viewership) this creative strategy feels appropriate.

The one potential weak spot is the end line ‘Nothing hits you quite like Origin’. ‘Big hits’ are part of rugby terminology and on-field action. However this campaign is not focusing on the visual spectacle but rather the emotional tension.

Also expanding the meaning of ‘hit’ feels problematic for rugby league; it was not so long ago the league was struggling accusations of players hitting their partners. In this campaign context the line sounds violent. The campaigns second end line ‘Feel it, be there’ seems much more appropriate. Besides the campaign does not need two end lines.

As the alternative to attending the games in person is watching it on TV, it’s apt to use TV as the primary medium to deliver the message. Like a great suspense film where you are left wanting to see more, this campaign creates the desire to go to the game and experience more.

Brand: Four Seasons Condoms – The Extendables
Agency: Marcel
What they said: ‘Smart in theory’ and based on a ‘strong core’ idea 

Animation series ‘The Extendables’ – which is controlled through a parent’s phone – distracts young children while parents enjoy time alone and can be extended if they require more time.

Luke Chess says:

“I like the idea that Four Seasons provides new ways in this busy world for people to find time for a little nooky. And this example of integrating user need with tech with content is smart. In theory.

In practice, the Extendables show itself is rather dull (yes I watched it), and I’m not sure it would hold the attention of even an undiscerning toddler for the full 12 minutes. The tech is also buggy – I moved away from my laptop without an alert sounding, and then some time later the alert went off for apparently no reason. I’m also having trouble deciding whether making love while keeping one eye on the phone is any better than making love while keeping one eye on the door. But …

I don’t think any of that is really the point of this piece. New things and new thinking by their very nature contain bugs, issues, false starts and problems. What this piece does do, even if (like, I suspect, 99.9% of Australians) you don’t interact with it any further than the press release, is demonstrates what’s possible with tech. And that press has reached beyond just the trade mags you and I read and into popular blogs like Mamamia and Kidspot.

Yes, it’s a piece that’s gotten people’s attention. And while it may not itself establish a new genre of inter-device connectivity, it might just stimulate the thinking that does.

In the meantime, I now see Four Seasons as an innovative company. Just maybe even innovative enough to make sex with a condom *not* feel like eating a lolly with the wrapper still on it.”

Simon Rich says:

“This campaign is a stunt, but it’s a relevant and engaging stunt. Stream The Extendables puppet video on your laptop for children to watch while you and your partner have sex.

Whilst people may only trial The Extendables once, the key brand message is enduring: with a little effort, parents can find the time to have sex. A stunt though it may be, the campaign gets parents to realise that, when kids are watching TV is a great time to have sex, using Four Seasons condoms of course.

Those without children will be wondering what all the fuss is about. But those with will know of total exhaustion by bedtime and dear little angels creeping to their parent’s bed at 5am.

Hollywood has taught us that sex happens with Champagne and silk sheets after romantic dinners. This Four Seasons campaign is educating us about having sex in the real world. This is a strategy that can be extended and evolved.

There is one potential weakness with the campaign: potentially over embellishment. To use The Extendables you link your mobile phone with your laptop and the technology uses state-of- the-art motion sensors to let you know if the kids stop watching the program. Does my electronic device have these state of the art sensors?! Whilst this extra embellishment closes all potential loopholes for would-be users, it comes with the risk of confusion.

The strength of this campaign is that it’s based on a solid core idea. Having a core idea at its heart has given the campaign the agility to expand beyond a traditional format. In the future I think we will see more of this kind of campaign activity from brands with good strategic foundations.”

As told to Zoe Samios. If you’re a senior creative or strategist who would like to take part in a future Campaign Review, please email zoe@mumbrella.com.au


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