2018’s ‘Best Ad’ Has A Hidden, Disturbing Message: Marketing Masterstroke Or Mistake?

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2018’s ‘Best Ad’ Has A Hidden, Disturbing Message: Marketing Masterstroke Or Mistake?

NRMA Insurance recently released their first ad for 2018, promoting everyday heroes and showing Australians’ innate willingness to help others. Take a look:

 

 

Viewers have lauded the ad as one of the best ads of 2018 and on YouTube, the clip has surpassed 2.5 million views!

It’s emotional. It’s moving. It’s truly Australian.

The portrayal of a surfer saving a man from drowning is the embodiment of the Australian spirit. A group of commuters moving a train carriage to free a man’s jammed leg is inspired by a 2014 incident in Perth. And of course, sandwiched between these stories, is the NRMA assisting a young girl in a broken-down car.

These acts of kindness are part of our national identity, and give many Australians a reason to be passionately patriotic. Likewise, NRMA believe they help Australians suffering adversity, and have done so for over 100 years.

The objective of this campaign is to reposition NRMA in the market with their new tagline, “Help is who we are”, to highlight their role in the Australian narrative as a support system for their customers.

So, what’s the commotion about?

Well … did you listen to the lyrics? Play it one more time and see if you can notice anything.

In case you missed it, some of the lyrics are questionable.

Exhibit A: “I will come for you at night time”

Ok … that’s not too bad, but the mother’s expression does look slightly sinister. Let’s have a look at another.

Exhibit B: “I will kiss you in four places”

The context of the song is important here … it’s about a one night stand. We’ll just leave you with that.

Exhibit C: “I will squeeze the life out of you”

GET THIS SICK AND TWISTED FIREMAN OFF MY SCREEN.

While the song ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ by Hunters & Collectors, is soothing and evocative listening, it is NOT appropriate for an ad featuring children and vulnerable koalas.

What were they thinking?

There are countless songs with warm lullabies and soft melodies to choose from. So why this one?

NRMA has responded to some criticism online, telling customers that the song choice captures “how powerful the Australian spirit of help can be in the face of adversity.”

We get that bit, but what about the references to sexual hookups and insinuated animal abuse??

The lyrics are just too bizarre to take this ad seriously, and once you’ve noticed them, you simply can’t ‘unhear’ it.

Unfortunately for these reasons, this week, it’s a…

Marketing Mistake

 

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Greenpeace’s new ad, just another drop in the ocean? Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

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Greenpeace’s new ad, just another drop in the ocean? Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

Greenpeace are renowned for their compelling stunts, animated protests and sobering ad campaigns, so it’s no surprise that their latest addition looks a little something like this …

Visibly excited to enter the aquarium, the group of school children are representatives of their generation … the next generation. Once inside they are confronted by the absence of sea life and prevalence of plastics.

Bags, bottles and six-pack rings drift through the murky waters, as the children’s faces turn forlorn. The chipper soundtrack transitions to a darker tune, and cogs in the children’s minds begin to turn.

Items from their kitchens have replaced the penguins, fish, stingrays and sharks they were hoping to see. The exhibition has become a display of supermarket waste.

Aquariums are usually viewed as manicured worlds, brimming with marine life and activity, which gives us a false sense of security when it comes to the real state of our oceans.

This campaign calls for the reduction in supermarket’s plastic footprint, because ocean plastic causes the death of hundreds of thousands of animals every year. In fact, the aquarium exhibit was built using plastic collected from a beach in Ireland the previous day.

The ad informs us that, “UK supermarkets generate 800,000 tonnes of plastic each year” and “A truck load of plastic ends up in our oceans every minute”.

This really is a crisis. The volume of plastic in the world’s oceans is set to double in the next decade, and Greenpeace refuse to sit idly by.

In the final seconds of the ad, we are urged to sign their petition to demand that supermarkets use less plastic.

But do these campaigns, commercials and petitions, actually work?

Well, yes …

Just last month the UK government announced that they are set to ban the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds, in an attempt to eradicate all single-use plastic products. And while more needs to be done to reduce plastic waste in our oceans, this is a huge leap in the right direction.

Even in Australia, the #BanTheBag campaign was hugely impactful when it was propelled into public discourse by the media, prompting supermarkets to plan their transition to plastic bag free-zones.

So, in terms of effectiveness, these ads work! And in terms of conveying this issue to the public, it’s been done perfectly.

This rousing ad is powerful, poignant and chilling.

For these reasons, it’s a

Marketing Masterstroke

 

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Apple Moves The Needle (Somewhat) With HIV Phone : Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

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Apple Moves The Needle (Somewhat) With HIV Phone:

Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

This week Apple unveiled a new, red version of the iPhone 8 called (Product)RED. Check out the spot here:

This line of special edition, rich crimson iPhones are different to their silver, black, and gold counterparts in that, a portion of profits is donated to (RED) that is an organisation which aims to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS.

Apple partnered with (RED) back in 2006 and has contributed over $160 million to non-profit AIDS organization, The Global Fund. Apple’s contribution is more than the governments of Greece, Hungary, Iceland, New Zealand and Switzerland have given, combined … but is also 0.016% of Apple’s estimated valuation.

During this 11 year period, Apple has made a concerted effort to show AIDS as an important issue, by turning their Apple Stores red, assisting (RED) with app developers, and now, releasing a suite of red products, from Apple Watch bands, to iPhone cases, headphones and even speakers.

Apple states that their partnership with (RED) aims to eliminate the threat of HIV/AIDS in Africa through “programs that provide counselling, testing and medicine that prevents the transmission of HIV from a mother to her unborn child”.

(RED) CEO Deborah Dugan says that “the (HIV) stigma is so strong worldwide” and when sufferers see someone with the (RED) products, they “start talking to them and they know they can come out and then say they have HIV.”

Apple’s commitment to (RED) and the HIV cause is evidently strong, so it must be asked, why did they fail to mention (RED) or even HIV in this commercial. Even stranger than this, when making a purchase in their online store, there is no mention of the partnership. You have to seek the information out.

The reasons for this are entirely unclear.

Likewise, it’s unclear as to how much money goes to the Global Fund.

Apple has stated that, 100% of A PORTION from every (RED) product sale goes directly to the Global Fund … how’s that for spin!

Moreover, it’s safe to assume that this exercise in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is also a marketing exercise to keep the iPhone 8 fresh, after being overshadowed for months by the iPhone X.

And admittedly, this strategy works!

For those globally-minded people who have recently contemplated buying a new iPhone, this Ferrari-red model will surely speed along the process, with thousands more destined to race off the shelves.

The impact of CSR on revenue can be huge, with 64% of consumers in Asia-Pacific saying that they’re willing to pay more for products from companies that have positive social and environmental policies.

On this front, Apple is remarkably savvy.

Like every other Apple ad, it’s slick, swanky and has a killer soundtrack. But in terms of its effectiveness, failing to mention (RED) and HIV was a colossal mistake.

The partnership allowed them the opportunity to have a deep, emotional connection with consumers, and they didn’t leverage this opportunity.

So, for this reason alone, it’s a

Marketing Mistake

 

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Johnnie Walker Gets Into The Spirit Of Things, Drops $15M: Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake

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Johnnie Walker Gets Into The Spirit Of Things, Drops $15M: Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake

After watching this brand new ad for Johnnie Walker, two things are clear: 1. They still make a wildly popular Scotch whiskey (number one in the world to be exact). And 2, they commission damn good ads!

This is Johnnie Walker’s biggest marketing campaign in over a decade, which is poised to run across TV, out-of-home and digital for 18 months, and will be executed at the cost of $15 million.

The Next Step is the latest installment to their iconic Keep Walking campaign, and centres around the concept of journeys. This rousing 45-second commercial features a university student who sits late into the night working at his true passion, art.

The ad was entirely filmed in Sydney, which means we’ll have to suspend all sense of logic and reality, because the suggestion that a whisky-sipping, uni student lives in a sprawling Sydney apartment is frankly, unbelievable.

Such details aside, we then see our protagonist submerged in a sea of laptops. He appears unsettled, and begins to drown to the sound of incessant keyboard tapping.

Spliced into this vignette are shots of his artwork back at home.

He leaves.

Out of the lecture, he dives into a series of glamourous galleries only to be turned away, one after the other.

At this point, we’re told: “No one said it would be easy. Walking your own path seldom is. Because you never truly know where it will take you.”

After several setbacks, elevator doors open to reveal his painting emblazoned across a mannequin … then featured in a fashion show … then at an after party.

“Wherever you are in your journey, always remember, the most important step you take isn’t your last, it’s your next”.

Rewind to the exact moment when our everyman decided to walk his own path. Cut to black, and merge the logo …

“Keep walking. Johnnie Walker”

This truly is an extraordinary piece of creative. And what makes it extraordinary, is that it’s more than just a well shot ad. Leo Burnett, who created this commercial, undertook comprehensive consumer research, and it’s evident.

The magic of this ad is in its relatability. We’re watching a real person, not a celebrity, live out a very real experience.

This ad is designed to appeal to the career-focused, who have most probably faced a degree of adversity on their journey to success. This group are also more likely to have an income that could support such a refined drinking habit.

And if this is the case, it must be asked, why cast a university student? Possibly because, again, being a student at university is a relatable experience for most successful career people. Or, maybe it’s the Happy Meal strategy of ‘get-them-in-young’.  And maybe it’s a bit of both.

What is even more relatable to a wide audience, is the fear of rejection and failure. Name a person who hasn’t had a moment (or ten) when they’ve questioned, did I take the right path?

Johnnie Walker have always celebrated stories of personal achievement and have always encouraged people to walk their own path.

This notion is also quintessentially Australian. This ad plays into Aussies’ affection for the underdog, and their support for a fair go, hard work and persistence.

These qualities closely align with Johnnie Walker’s 20-year commitment to personal progress, growth and achievement.

In marrying these shared values, Leo Burnett has created the perfect mix.

So, for these reasons, this week, it’s a Marketing Masterstroke.

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Apple Accidentally Showed A Bug In Their iPhone X Ad: Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

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There’s So Many Bugs On iPhone X That One Made It Into The Ad: Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

Despite waning sales figures for Apple’s highly lauded and highly expensive, iPhone X, they’re pushing ahead with a buffet of slick and swanky ads. However, dwindling sales figures aren’t the least of their worries, with some noticing that their latest spot features a software bug in the ad itself. (UPDATE: Apple has since fixed the bug on the iPhone X ad featured above but the actual bug remains)

 

 

After this explosive rampage, I wouldn’t be surprised if the schoolgirl spends the rest of her life in detention for purposefully destroying every piece of school property in her line of sight!

Frankly, it’s unbelievable that at no point does a bystander attempt to stop her during her parade of destruction.

Furthermore, not once is she reprimanded for exploding lockers, and carrying out an unnecessary invasion of privacy.

Further-furthermore, her superpowers go unquestioned.

But then again, vandalism and breaches of privacy should never get in the way of a great ad … just ask Facebook.

Apple are known for their ads, and overall, this one does not disappoint. The upbeat tempo, colour explosions and elements of fantasy make this ad truly unique.

The production quality is high. And the concept of ‘unlocking the world’ is creative, and clever. It undoubtedly met Apple’s brief to demonstrate one of their key selling points, that being facial recognition.

When Apple releases a new iPhone, they generally hold a few extra features which give them a unique point of difference, and justifies the price increase. Apart from the phone’s exterior, the only feature which distinguishes the iPhone X, from the iPhone 8, is facial recognition.

But does this single feature justify an extra $500 AUD at the cash register? We’re not convinced, and neither are consumers.

The decision to focus heavily on this one feature has clearly not resulted in an increase in sales. While other ads have focused on features like Portrait Mode, not all consumers will see every ad … and Portrait Mode is on iPhone 8 anyway.

So, while Apple’s marketing strategy might not be the most sophisticated, the production of this ad is great … except for one little mistake … the bug.

Unfortunately, what brings this ad down, is that is shows a software bug in action!

 

Oops Apple Ad iphone x

The words from the text message are not supposed to escape the bubble, but as you can clearly see here, they have.

Although it is extraordinary that Apple signed this off, it really is a trivial detail that doesn’t impact the overall brilliance of this ad.

There are certain aspects of this ad that are problematic but Apple must take responsibility, because ultimately is it exceptional!

So, for these reasons, this week, it’s a Marketing Masterstroke.

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Burger King Goes The Extra Mile: Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

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Burger King Goes The Extra Mile: Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

Ever heard of Good Samaritan Day?

Neither have we. Apparently it was a few days ago, and in celebration of this little-known holiday, Burger King released an ad:

The concept behind this commercial was to reward those good Samaritans who stopped to assist the driver of an overheating car. Once they veer to the side of the road, the altruists realise that the billowing smoke is actually pouring out of a grill, which has been set into the car’s bonnet.

Burger King has claimed that this ad was a real life social experiment, however we’re doubtful. Everything seems just a little bit too perfect. Namely, the King emerging from behind a cloud of smoke and the multiple travelers that attend to the scene with fire extinguishers in hand (where did they come from??).

Also, the fact that these civilians don’t seem to notice the team of camera operators surrounding the car, is a dead giveaway.

And if we’re getting super technical, unless the onlookers were strapped with microphones, the camera shooting from across the road wouldn’t have been able to record their dialogue.

All of this aside, the concept is phenomenal! This quirky video joins a series of other activations that Burger King has been rolling out over the past few months. Another was when. Burger King decided to gift their biggest social media fan an entire restaurant and year’s supply of burgers.

If Burger King can sustain this degree of quality advertising (and KFC fail to source more chicken) they will be on the path to taking the ‘real crown’.

This ad has it all, packed into a neat 60 second package. There’s the drama of the overcooked engine, the humour of the prank and the warmth of the kind gesture. And, who doesn’t love a company mascot with an oversized head?

So, for these reasons, this week, it’s a Marketing Masterstroke.

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Red Cross’ Bloody Good Effort: Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

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Red Cross’ Bloody Good Effort: Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

Here’s a challenge for you: watch this ad and try not to tear up or even have an “aww” moment. Our bet is, you can’t!

In the beginning, this ad transports us back to our childhood, conjuring memories of bedtime stories with our parents. The father, reading from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, lulls his son to sleep with the words: “the answer to .. life, the universe and everything is 42.”

BOOM!

We enter a realm of fire and flags, blimps and bands, TVs and talking mice.

Dressed in his PJs, the young boy wades through a world of 42s before approaching a podium surrounded by a sea of onlookers. Acting as another reference to the Hitchhiker’s Guide, a talking mouse informs the infant that: “This is the answer”.

With a sweet stroke of symbolism, the boy breaks the fortune cookie to reveal the number 42. At which point he says: 42 what? …”

… 42 days is how long donated blood lasts.

We then return to the boy in a hospital bed and all the 42 business starts to make sense.

Chief Strategy Officer at Cummins&Partners, Tom Ward, said: “We’re not sure whether Douglas Adams was a blood donor or not, but the fact that 42 also happens to be the exact shelf life of a blood donation is either a coincidence of galactic proportions, or the answer we’ve all been searching for.”

Marketing Director at the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, Samantha Bartlett, added: “Most Australians are aware that giving blood is a good thing to do, but what they might not know is that their donation has a finite shelf-life. From the moment they donate, it has just 42 days to get to someone in need.”

This ad is the perfect blend of fantasy and reality, celebration and sorrow, childhood invincibility and real world mortality. It adapts a literary classic to tell the searing story of blood donation and truly hits home with its core message of blood expiration. The concept of the ad is supremely creative and aesthetically, it is a marvelous spectacle.

Using a child as the lead character in this story is highly powerful and emotional. No viewer could deny a child a chance at life, and this tale is all the prompting we need to: “Donate Today. Donate Regularly.”

So, for these reasons, this week, it’s a Marketing Masterstroke.

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Bonds Cheeky Campaign: Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

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Bonds Cheeky Campaign: Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

Bonds has just released the creative for their new Originals campaign, reviving their tagline from the 80’s, “Gotta Be Bonds”.

 

 

The creative was shot in Coober Pedy and pays homage to those hot summer days when it’s just too damn hot to wear clothing.

There are several spots featuring sweaty models mowing ‘lawns’, sweeping dust and lugging around bags of ice, which will all run across TV, outdoor, social media and online.

But it was this ad which caught our collective eye.

The ad begins with a clammy brunette blasting into the fictional town of “Cold Springs”, complete with her leather driving gloves and black Bonds Originals two-piece.

The sticky supermodel pulls up to a petrol station and exits the car, at which point the camera flashes across her toned stomach, and focuses in on her pert posterior.

She plugs in the petrol nozzle, glances over her shoulder and spots a local woman, who appears to be sporting Kmart Originals.

The Bonds clad babe relishes in her choice of underwear and smugly looks towards the horizon, at which point we’re reminded, it’s “Gotta Be Bonds”.

Comparing one product with another is commonplace in the world of advertising, because it helps explain to consumers why one product is superior to its inferior competitor.

Although here, it’s not just the comparison between two products, rather the comparison between two women.

This tactic would be familiar to any viewer of daytime TV infomercials. The before shot will depict a vitamin D deficit, disheveled woman who is void of any makeup, on the left. And on the right, after using a life changing serum, cream or machine, she has transformed into a thinner, tanned and far more made up version of her former self.

In Bonds’ case, a similar approach has been adopted, except for the fact that losing weight, getting a tan and reversing the ageing process is a highly unlikely side effect of sliding on a pair of Bonds Originals. Some consumers are easily led, but no one is falling for that one.

Lastly, the average Bonds customer looks more like the undesirable in this ad, rather than the strutting glamazon – so it must be asked, what’s there to gain from alienating your core base of customers and portraying them as vagrants?

So for these reasons, this week, it’s a Marketing Mistake.

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Gorton’s Fishy Campaign: Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

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Gorton’s Fishy Campaign – Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

When was the last time you had a fish finger? Years ago, right? Same here. And that’s because fish fingers are usually eaten by ravenous children who refuse to eat actual food.

Until now!

 

 

So, if Gorton’s target market is children, why have they cast two gym junkies, drenched in spray tan, to be their merman ambassadors? Well, we’re not entirely sure, but the decision probably went a bit like this …

“Kids don’t buy groceries. Mums do. How do we get mums to notice us? Hot dudes.”

*End scene*

And this strategy could very well work… the sales will speak for themselves.

…Or it could not, which is most probably why 99% of fish finger brands aim their marketing efforts towards children.

But there’s something fishier than Chad and Brody’s shimmering tails in this ad, and that’s the notion of ‘trust’.

The “merbros” tell us that they have developed their rippling muscles from doing a lot of push-ups and eating right… which is definitely true. But the suggestion that Gorton’s Fish Sandwiches make up part of their diet, is one tall tail.

They assure us that Gorton’s products contain protein (most foods do) and there’s “nothing weird added”, apart from POTENTIAL RELATIVES OF THEIRS FROM UNDER THE SEA.

But despite this act of sheer cannibalism, we’re told to trust “those who know.”

Ahh, no.

Back in the ocean fellas.

 

So for these reasons, this week, it’s a Marketing Mistake.

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Ultra Tune: Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

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Ultra Tune: Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

Car repair company Ultra Tune have released the sixth installment of their Unexpected Situations series featuring women in leopard print and lycra finding themselves in sticky situations, only to be rescued by Ultra Tune’s Director Rod Cedaro, posing as a roadside assist driver. Make sense so far?

Not really.

UltraTune are no stranger to controversy. In 2016, they successfully produced the most complained about ad of the year, which was so “sexist” and “offensive”, that the Advertising Standards Bureau banned it after determining it was in breach of section 2.1 of their code of ethics.

The ad was the brainchild of the company’s CEO Sean Buckley, who responded to the scandal saying, “people need to lighten up”.

More interestingly, Buckley is also the fiancé of the blonde actress featured in the ad.

So what’s a company to do if they’re perceived by many of the Australian public (and potential customers) to be sexist?

They could donate to women’s charities. Maybe campaign to end domestic violence. Or simply refrain from portraying women as vacuous dimwits in their future ads.

But no.

UltraTune has instead decided to hire convicted rapist Mike Tyson, to be their brand ambassador.

Well …

We COULD discuss the sloppy acting, jagged editing, inconceivable stunts, bizarre script and the confusing concept of this ad. But all of this is cataclysmically eclipsed by the fact that a company with an image problem decided that Mike Tyson was the embodiment of the Ultra Tune ethos.

Even Tyson admitted it’s “a little bit sexist” on The Morning Show.

And to make matters worse, the campaign is unravelling at a time when sexual assault and violence is being exposed and denounced at large in the entertainment industry.

I think it’s fair to say that when it comes to advertising, UltraTune are better off listening to the experts in PR and advertising, and less to their CEO, because he is seriosuly misguided.

So for these reasons, this week, it’s a

MARKETING MISTAKE

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