How the public fell in love with Rhonda

Real RhondaI did not, I must confess, spend the AFL grand final like a proper Sydneysider watching the Sydney Swans beat Hawthorn with beer in hand.

Somewhat less glamorously, I spent my Saturday afternoon opening up for the cleaners as they gave our new office its first once over.

The house across the road was having a footy party – and a loud one at that. As I watched the game in the office, I could hear the cheers and groans as the game unfolded.

And want to know what one of the biggest cheers during the game was was? When they cut from the action to an ad break and Rhonda, unthreatening everyday heroine of the AAMI ad, finally got it on with her Bali waiter Katut. A blokey voice rose above the cheers with the words “Go’rn Rhonda!” It was the sort of moment that marketers dream about.

I must admit, the idea of celebrating Rhonda the safe driver did little for me when the campaign first launched last year. It’s the kind of homely fair you wouldn’t expect to impress awards juries either.

But it has resonated with the public. When Big W held an in-store staff competition, more than one team paid tribute to Rhonda’s sunburnt face. Then of course there are the Facebook tribute pages; The Sexual Tension between Rhonda And Katut has more than 100,000 likes, while the alternatively spelt The Sexual Tension Between Rhonda and Ketut has 50,000.

When the ad went to public opinion research for ad of the year at the Mumbrella Awards, it scored strongly there too.

I’d love to see some effectiveness data.

Ogilvy has created for AAMI a brand personality that now has the potential to capture the public’s imagination for years. With the star rising for actress Mandy McElhinney, about to play Nene King in the next instalment of Paper Giants, the toughest thing may be in hanging on to the talent. That seems like a great problem to have.


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