Why Bonds’ Birthday Project will be the campaign of 2012

Birthday ProjectOnce or twice a year, a campaign breaks that gets me really excited about the Australian marketing industry.

Back in 2010, it was Tontine’s date stamped pillows. I knew it was category redefining the moment I saw it.

In 2011, it was NAB’s Breakup.

Now I’m calling the campaign for 2012.

It’s for Bonds, and The Birthday Project breaks today.

It’s a project that makes great use of social media, taps into the public’s affection for Bonds, has got massive PR potential and is the best example yet of the opportunities of mass personalisation showcased so well by the Share A Coke campaign last year.

Like the most brilliant advertising ideas, it’s really simple. Let Australians claim every date of birth – and give them an individualised T-shirt with their own date on.

There are 35,000 dates to claim and the first 15,000 will get a free T-shirt. The rest get a discount voucher.

I am 21.11.70The website where it all takes place integrates with Facebook, where people can upload an image to claim their date. I’m sure that within hours, social media will be crawling with people crowing about claiming their date, urging friends to grab theirs or bemoaning not being fast enough to be first. The first thing I did after claiming my date (I am 21.11.70, by the way) was to urge all of my colleagues to get in there too. Shortly, that same conversation will be happening in offices around the country.

That’s the social element. The PR element is impressive too.

There’s a big launch at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney this lunchtime. Among the items unveiled will be this image by portrait photographer Darren Sylvester.

Click to enlarge

The picture features beloved Australians claiming their dates (note the question mark on Dame Edna’s year). I suspect we’ll be seeing this on TV tonight and in most of tomorrow’s papers.I’m sure you can spot Dame Edna, musician Gurrumul, young sailor Jessica Watson, actor Michael Caton and cook Margaret Fulton.

Interestingly, the advertising campaign to back this leans most heavily on outdoor. There are a selection of 63 ordinary Australians cast via Facebook, mixed with the key Bonds brand ambassadors including the likes of Pat Rafter, Sarah Murdoch and Rachael Taylor.

There are also press and radio components.

Nothing_like_australia_screengrab_2 mumbrellaAnother great social campaign this reminds me of is Tourism Australia’s invitation to the public to upload their best images, which in turn drove the next stage of the campaign. For instance, it’s not hard to picture future Bonds outdoor ads featuring some of the ordinary redheads who uploaded their images – We Are Red, anybody?

There are three main agencies involved. Clemenger BBDO Melbourne drove the original idea. The same people, incidentally, who were behind NAB, that I mentioned above. (Apart from being named AdNews’ agency of the year, winning the whole CUB roster and launching what may be the best campaign of the year, they’ve had a pretty quiet week.) The PR agency for this – which includes the credit for the Darren Sylvester PR element – is Baker Brand. And Mediacom Melbourne is the media agency.

So how does a campaign like this happen? In this case, let’s not forget the client.

You may recall Lindsey Evans was one of the architects of the Tontine campaign when she worked at the now defunct Happy Soldiers. After a period of consultancy Evans officially joined Pacific Brands at the end of the year, heading up the underwear brands.

The story behind the campaign is an interesting one, with the brief going out from Evans last August. It went to Clems and fellow rostered Pacific Brands agency Banjo. The brief called for a campaign to reignite the public’s love and affection for Bonds. It wanted to tap into the long term place the brand has had in Australian life, and the fact that young and old, and rich and poor have all worn Bonds clothing. Evans set a three week deadlines. After two days, Clems ECD Ant Keogh was on the phone to Evans, having cracked the brief. Evans tells me: “From that day on, nothing has changed about the idea.”

It seems to me, it’s also a good demonstration of how important getting the brief right in the first place is.

This is just the first part of The Birthday Project.

I can’t wait to watch it unfold.

Tim Burrowes


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