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Do you love Christmas advertising?

8 Nov

What’s more to love about Christmas than family, feasting and napping? Yes, it’s Christmas advertising! I have just received the first of what will be many emails promoting brands, and it was from one of my favourite brands: ALDI.

It reminded me of last year and a fantastic array of Christmas goodness. Some of my favourites were Cadbury and love how the Myer one is truly Australian and shows true of Aussie culture of helping out your mates by repairing Santa’s star: Myer 2016 Santa’s Star TVC.

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Over in sunny UK, John Lewis for years have been coming out with fantastic ads, Marks & Spencer also had a great campaign where Mrs Claus steals the show from Santa in the M&S 2016 TVC. This very touching one from Heathrow airport – bringing families together was also another standout, Heathrow TVC.

My favourite ‘Come Together’ by H&M, directed by Wes Anderson and starring Adrien Brody channels Grand Budapest Hotel, watch it here.  I don’t want to spoil the ending, but it still brings me to tears. Be warned, it is 3.52 minutes, but it’s worth the watch.

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These three examples, and please share your favourites in the comments section, all use emotional based strategies: empathy, family and love and togetherness. Their messages are powerful, and not one bit of clothing or aeroplane to be seen (well maybe right at the beginning of the Heathrow TVC.

Bring on 2017 Christmas TVCs I say! ALDI have resurrected Kevin the carrot after the success of their 2016 campaign. This is their first instalment of the season and again the theme is love (and it only goes for a minute), ALDI 2017 TVC.

ALDI’s sales grew over 15% last Christmas, so why not bring back Kevin? The campaign has a clever movie tie-in with Murder on the Orient Express, and of course features a train, a gingerbread man, introduces a sexy female carrot Katie, and Kevin doing un-carrot hero acts! I’m sure ALDI are onto another winner here, as their Christmas food offerings are portrayed in a mouth-watering display. It is pure escapism and will win over more new customers. Let’s see what the sales figures show this Christmas.

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While I have been reading many articles about this Christmas being lean on spending, brands will be enticing us over the next month to win over our hearts. And spend we will. Using emotive and escapism are two strategies that have worked previously, and will work again. Bring on Santa I say! And more Christmas magic.




QUT Business School marketing students take real world learning to a new high

6 Nov

QUT academics have prided themselves on engaging with industry and real businesses – and our advertising, marketing and public relations students in QUT’s Business School work in ‘agencies’ with real clients. In my Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) class, our students work on a range of objectives set by their clients: from brand awareness, brand loyalty, brand conviction, attitude formation and often creating copy and entire campaigns to deliver first class campaign strategies and tactics. Students conduct brand audits and work on achieving their client’s objectives.

During the final weeks of semester, the student agencies pitch their ideas and campaigns to their clients. These pitches from 2nd and 3rd year students are of such a high standard. They are very professional, and clients are always impressed with the high callibre standards shown by our amazing QUT Business and Creative Industries students.

Our incredible array of 2017 IMC clients included so many amazing businesses: Rio Rhythmics Dance Studio, Kerry Reece Art, radio stations, charity events, not for profits,  McGrath’s Fine Foods, Paws & Relax Doggy Daycare, a vegan food project, Grasses of Life, Kelly’s Candy, forfido – a dog walking App, Save A Horse, The Lucky Duck.

In many cases, many students end up conducting work experience for their clients implementing their ideas. It is a win-win situation for everyone. Di, Tegan & Annie of Paws & Relax (pictured below), heard IMC strategy ideas from 15 student agencies. Imagine what that would be worth in money terms if a real agency pitched?

IMG_3986.jpegOur IMC class is extra large (over 300 students each semester), we source clients far and wide, often many coming from past students and current tutors.

Another client was Stuart from forfido, a dog walking App which was supported by #RSPCA RSPCA Qld. The CEO Mark Townsend is pictured below with a group of students that presented an out of this world pitch.


I am not lucky, but privileged to have such an amazing teaching team, and for the past 15 years recruiting from my past students has allowed me to find IMC stars. Many have stayed for a semester or two, and then their careers have taken off and they have moved to far and wide parts of the world. Running the worlds of advertising, marketing and public relations firms or starting their own businesses. They are all wonderful people and care about our amazing QUT students and their IMC learning journeys. The other half of my team have their own businesses and are industry specialists, many whom have been in the team for over 10 years, so draw on so much experience and change.

Since 2007, the IMC undergraduate subject at QUT has also been an educational innovator and leader in promoting student and industry engagement within social media environments. For the past 11 years, Facebook and Twitter have been used to build professional partnerships with industry, and promote real world learning and engagement experiences between current students, sessional academics and past alumni. Specifically, this was achieved by creating a subject Facebook page IMC@QUT. It  provides a space for outstanding connections, alumni events, industry best practice examples, creative inspiration as well as a go-to employment bulletin board, internship and networking opportunities. The IMC@QUT Facebook community spans directly from the heart of the QUT brand.

The longevity of this space has resulted in present and past IMC students sharing opinions, encouraging dialogue and ideas, marketing communication related inspiration and industry benchmarks.  It has also broken down traditional classroom barriers and maintained a consistent annual growth in members and now totals over 1200 members.




Can you have your cake and eat it to? Promotions are alive and well.

12 Sep

UK’s largest manufacturer of cakes and baked products since 1976 Mr Kipling, have created a wonderfully engaging billboard in one of London’s busiest shopping centres, Stratford City. The billboard included 13,360 edible cakes, each one being devoured over 8 hours, after taking 8 hours to assemble. The campaign ‘Life is better with cake’ was created by JWT London.


There are many interesting marketing communicaiton elements to this promotional campaign. Yes it was great at raising awareness, but even more effective is when you look at the placement of this billboard. Westfield Stratford City is one of the largest shopping centres in Europe; houses UK’s largest casino, estimated Centre employees is 20,000, parking houses 5,000 cars. Further, the surrounding area is home to 4.1m people in the surrounding catchment areas. It is adjacent to London Olympic Park, East Village and Stratford regional and international rail stations. For brand exposure to as many eyeballs as possible, this placement really worked.

When I look at campaigns, I always analyse and ask, how could this have been done better? And without knowing all of the information about this campaign, these are my thoughts. First, data. Did they collect any? While ‘Content may be King’, data allows your brand to create relevant content. Mr Kipling could find out many things, including something as simple as what new cakes need inventing. Now that would be a cool crowdsourcing campaign! Data would enable Mr Kipling to have two-way conversations. Next, I wonder what social media was utilised to drive traffic to the Billboard promotion? The hashtags used was #BetterWithCake, so they will have lots of insights from this. Instagram and Pinterst would also have been great channels to use. The use of PR was an obvious media tactic and one that sees many blog (including this one) and news posts talking about this tasty story. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that pun!

When you look at past campaigns from Mr Kipling, you can see that they love giving away their products. And who doesn’t like cake? This isn’t the first time that Mr Kipling has used a promotional strategy. In 2012 they used a transit campaign dispensing 500 pieces of cake per day, in 19 cities across the UK. Resulting in over 130,000 pieces of happiness being consumed and importantly, curing hunger pains!

Are they going to rival Coke with their “Happiness” campaign?

Are We Getting Too Sensitive: Do Brands Need to Rethink Using Global Campaigns?

22 Aug

Apple’s new TVC featuring their new exercise Apps on the iPhone 5s has offended some audiences because of the use of the song ‘Go You Chicken Fat, Go’. So does the creative over-shadow the message?


The story gets exciting when you look into the history of the song. Actually most things do don’t they? Marketers love to copy what has gone before them… tweak it slightly, and the slight alteration to the original idea can be very clever. The Apple ad uses The Youth Fitness Song aka as “Chicken Fat” song.

In 1962, the song was written and composed by Broadway composer (Robert) Meredith Wilson (The Music ManThe Unsinkable Molly Brown), and sung by actor/singer Robert Preston. It was part of President John F. Kennedy’s Council on Physical Fitness program to get schoolchildren to do more daily exercise. The song was distributed to American schools and played every morning for students to do calisthenics. Very similar to how Australia’s Federal government supplied milk to children in primary school between the 1950’s and the mid 70’s. Every morning about 9am, a small bottle of milk – 1/3 pint – would be delivered for each child. The milk would sit there (in the sun) until morning recess, when each child would get their very own (now warm) bottle of milk. I have horrible childhood milk memories and I did not drink milk as an adult unless the milk was freezing cold or flavoured. And I never drank the bottom bit.

Back to our story! The visuals in Apple’s TVC are motivating, and the use of the phone’s physical-fitness Apps are clear, but it tends to be overshadowed by the song, as I was thinking while watching the TVC, ‘what does this mean?’ Am I supposed to find this funny? Is Apple trying to motivate me or scare me? Then the tagline kicks in, which reads: “You’re more powerful than you think.” OK, but how does the chicken fit in?

The song could make American Baby Boomers’ nostalgic for a time when they were told to “Go, you chicken fat, go,” however, there is no point of reference for anyone else watching the ad. For the rest of the world, Apple appears to be telling its customers, possibly in a questionable manner, to get off the couch, and start exercising. However, the main message was the great new exercise Apps, but that was lost.

Classical conditioning has been used in a clever way by Apple, teaming the song with memories of exercising. Apart from Americans who may remember doing their morning callisthenics to this song, it is lost on all other global audiences. I wonder if like my primary school milk memories, these weren’t happy? Which begs the question, should music with such strong associations – both good and bad – be used in advertising campaigns? Much research has been conducted on the use of teaming music with advertising. Apple has been clever, but they should have considered only using this song for American audiences.


4BCs Spin Cycle #3

10 Aug

This week, Patrick Condren sifts through the spin with marketing and advertising gurus Simon Dell from Two Cents Marketing Group in Milton and Dr Edwina Luck, Senior Lecturer in Advertising, Marketing & PR at QUT’s Business School.

Our Spin Cycle panel talk about the Superbowl. It costs $3.4m to buy one commercial at the Superbowl, but considering 57% of Americans will be tuned in, it could be worth every cent. And what about the global audience it reaches?

As well, Clive Palmer’s unsolicited endorsement of The Brisbane Times, Chinese New Year, and the revival of 80s music stars; will the INXS bio-pic be a hit?

Listen here.

Spin Cycle #2

3 Aug

After kicking off with a bang about tennis and Apple in our first show, this week Spinners Simon Dell and myself chat with Patrick Condren about the week that was in all things marketing on the 4BC Morning show.

This week the Spin Cycle features the celebrity fitness craze and in particular, 24 year old Gold Coast local Ashy Bines, whose diet has received cult-like status with almost 1 million likes on Facebook and over 100 000 participants in her 12 week challenge.

Convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby is edging closer to release, but if you were her PR manager, how would you re-brand her image? Should convicted criminals be allowed to profit from their crimes?

And white, black, grey and silver are Australians’ most frequently chosen car colours- so how does colour influence what we buy?

Listen in here.

4BCs Spin Cycle #1

3 Aug

Each week Simon Dell from Two Cents Marketing Group and I discuss with 4BCs Morning show host Patrick Condren everything marketing. This is our first show! We discuss The Australian Open, the high temperatures, Bernard Tomic misbehaving and Apple.

Listen here!

You Can’t Have Just One – Tic Tacs are back

3 Aug

Actually, Tic Tacs never have left us, but the latest integrated CHEW-CRUNCH-ROLL campaign by Tic Tac saw Brisbane bombarded this week with transit bus stop posters, TVCs, a quiz in mX newspaper and placement on the back of seats on QR trains. You can take the quiz here.


Tic Tacs have been in Australia since 1976, so could be considered to be in the mature product life-cycle stage. Besides the original Fresh mint flavour, new varieties have been added over the past 25 years including: cinnamon, orange, and an orange and grape mix (in 1976), spearmint, peppermint, powermint, sour apple, mandarin, tangarine, berry, fresh orange, strawberry, wintergreen, pink grapefruit, orange and lime together, cherry, passion fruit, pomegranate, mango and lime. The grape flavor was eliminated in 1976 because of health concerns about the red dye. Exotic Cherry, Berry Blast, and Paradise Mint are the newest range. 

During this time there have been some great tag lines. The first was “The 1½ Calorie Breath Mint”, however  changed to “Two hours of Tic Tac freshness in less than two calories”. In Canada, New Zealand and Australia, and the United States, the successful slogan of “it’s not just a mint, it’s a tic tac” was used. The Tic Tac girl was also a successful add in.


Which are you?

Which are you?









Interestingly, this recent integrated campaign saw sampling being utilised. However, only one Tic Tac was distributed. There could be debate as to the success of just giving out one Tic Tac; weighing up the cost versus the intended benefit. Giving one Tic Tac could be seen as a great teaser campaign, but also shows the insight into consumers wanting more. The theory of economics and consumption also applies here. Supply versus demand: oooh that does taste good, I will have to buy me a packet. It also places Tic Tacs to the top-of-mind for many consumers who may have forgotten about them. Long-term memories are evoked, as consumers would have had previous interactions with Tic Tacs. So many psychological aspects goes into such a campaign. So I must ask the question, is a sample of one enough for you?

Is one enough in a sample?

Is one enough in a sample?

30 years ago Apple changed Super Bowl’s advertising

31 Jan

It’s this time of year when marketers get excited about what the BIG brands are ‘bringing’ to the Super Bowl spectacular. And that is the way it has been since 1984 when Apple changed the face of SuperBowl advertising with their spectacular and unique way to do what they have always done: change things in their favour by doing things differntly. Add colour in a black and white world. 

My journey learning about Apple and SuperBowl as a young academic was one of the happiest I can remember. Brands such as Budweiser, Reebok & Nike of course, who didn’t play with the rule book. How exciting that was to show 19 year somethings that you don’t have to play ball (OK they were the big brand guys – but they wanted to be the bigger guys)! And in the 90’s when the economy was booming, the advertising world was a raging bull. There were no limits. Long lunches. Longer lunches. And a large bar tab.

I digress! Terry Tate – Reebok. Gold.

Where is the product being used? It was all about humour.

Such a wonderful war started and has really not stopped with Nike V Reebok V Adidas. Another blog post warrants each brand’s journey.

30 years ago back in 1984, Apple defined the Super Bowl Commercial as a cultural phenomenon. Prior to Super Bowl XVIII, nobody watched the game “just for the commercials” — but one epic TV spot by Apple – which nearly didn’t get to air, directed by sci-fi legend Ridley Scott, changed all of that. And it nearly didn’t run… The Apple Board members hated the ad – why? Again, they didn’t show the functionality & usage of the product. 

Since then, major advertisers have used the game, paying as much as  US $4 million for one 30-second slot as of 2013, (excluding production & celebrity expenses) to showcase their work and generate buzz that many people tune into television’s biggest event of the year just to watch the commercials, not just the actual game. Let me take you back to the future!

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