Campaign Review: Virgin and NRMA’s new platforms go head-to-head

In Campaign Review, Mumbrella invites industry creatives and strategists to offer their views on recent ad campaigns. This week, Mumbrella asked Bastion Creative's Ana Lynch and dentsu Creative's Tim Mottau to share their thoughts on Special Australia's brand refresh for Virgin, and the new NRMA brand platform created by Bear Meets Eagle on Fire.

Brand: Virgin

Campaign: Bring on wonderful

Agency: Special Australia

The verdict: A convincing commitment to customer experience – the middle seat lottery is a winner

Ana Lynch, managing partner at Bastion Creative gave it a 7.5/10, saying: 

I vividly remember my first domestic flight on Virgin when I was a back packing across Australia in my late teens. Beyond the reef, the cane toad racing, the additional “o” on every spoken word, what held the conversation most with my uni friends upon my return was how outrageously fun and vibrant the domestic flights were compared to those of stuffy British Airways, right down to the rapping announcement style of the hosties.

Fast forward several years later as an expat, that experience became one of nostalgia vs the reality check on the weekly Syd – Melb commute, but this campaign feels like the Virgin experience I remember! In particular the ‘The middle seat lottery’. It is a brilliant idea, rewarding people who get stuck in the middle and is very Virgin. I hope there is more of this to come.

It’s an enormously ambitious platform, in which both the agency and the airline will need to hold the product experience to account (especially in a Covid recovery world), but shared risk always equals a greater reward.

When I asked my 8-year-old daughter (a great stress test on clarity of message) what she took out of the ad she said, “Kiss the other airlines goodbye come join Virgin it’s the best way to fly!” Verbatim. And from my 10-year-old son’s reaction, it’s clear the window seat will no longer be the one they fight for.

This work, will work.

Tim Mottau, strategy partner at dentsu Creative, gave it an 8.5/10, saying:

Since launching with a promise to “Keep the Air Fare”, we’ve seen a few iterations of the Virgin brand take flight with different ideas, lines and tones, but with a consistent focus on the democratisation of good customer service. “Bring on Wonderful” continues this challenger positioning, inviting us to get on board with the brand’s mission to improve the flying experience for all.

It’s hard to evaluate this work as just a campaign because it feels bigger than that, and while the ad sets up the ambition well, the little bits of wonderful are where the rubber hits the tarmac. How the brand continues to live up to its ambition in meaningfully innovative ways will go a long way towards determining how well this idea ultimately lands (and drives reappraisal). The middle seat lottery is a genius idea that demonstrates Virgin’s commitment, and if this is indicative of what we should expect more of from this platform moving forward, I reckon they’re onto something.

Brand: NRMA

Campaign: Until then we’ll be here

Agency: Bear Meets Eagle On Fire

The verdict: Beautiful craft anchored in NRMA’s promise of help, but requires audiences to ‘connect the dots’

Ana gave it an 8/10, saying:

You couldn’t have given us two more tonally different campaigns to review!

Stunning craft, beautiful piece of storytelling. The foundational thought is still clearly anchored in HELP, but they have taken it to an entirely new place.

We all know how hard it is to do this in a highly competitive category with a grudge purchase product that is intangible and hard to dramatize. This approach is refreshingly different and particularly stand out for its emotional and imaginary approach at a time in which we see a lot of “real life” on screen in reality TV and advertising. For me however, tonally it’s feeling a little more melancholy then it perhaps should be. Help is about hope, so I would have loved for it to be balanced by a little more humanity which has served them so well in the past.

Looking at the campaign as a whole, I personally think that the OOH is particularly compelling. Aside from the simplicity of each execution, the multiplicity of ‘reasons why you need help’ are part of its power. Individually they are strong, but collectively they really pack a punch.

Overall, I think it’s an incredibly smart campaign in its simplicity, and in how it highlights the probability and susceptibility that drives the need for insurance (s***t things happen) in an ownable way thanks to the brand idea of Help. It’s a genius platform evolution that creates a meaningful, lifetime role for the product and the brand.

A brave new world.

Tim gave it an 8/10, saying: 

The craft of this work is outstanding. Intriguing and interesting in a way that draws me in, and it makes me think about why NRMA’s HELP really matters in several different ways. Some big and some small.

But I don’t think it’s necessarily an easy get. You do have to think about it. Connecting the dots from Until [something] to seeing insurance’s role and a need for NRMA to HELP. Which is pretty much the question I have of this: Is it asking too much of ma and pa? I don’t think they’re stupid, but I do think they’re time poor, distracted, and trigger-happy with the remote, etc.

However, I do think the longer you sit with it, the less of a concern this becomes. Once you understand the construct, the question goes away. So, if this campaign is around for a while, which I hope it is, then in the very simple words of Sarge, it’s solved.

As told to Kalila Welch. If you’re a senior creative or strategist who would like to take part in a future Campaign Review, please email Kalila at


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