Sam's onto a winner for McDonald's

Sam's onto a winner for McDonald's

McDonald’s scored a 100% Aussie winner with Sam Kekovich, taking out the top spot in the B&T-Ipsos ASI People’s Choice Awards for the third quarter, as director Mark Bowen outlines

Late spring is a great time to be in Australia. Winter is far behind us, the days are getting longer and warmer, and we’re all thinking about putting away those winter clothes for another year.

We’ve also had epic back-to-back footie finals. Australia managed not to lose to New Zealand in the rugby and even the start of the A-League this season has been, dare I say, exciting. But best of all for us advertising folk, the good telly is back.

As someone with a young family, I’m sure I’m not alone in looking forward to 8pm every night when the kids are finally in bed, I’ve just collapsed on the sofa, there’s some beer or wine on the table and actually something worth watching on the TV. So with the return of new series of hit TV shows like Homeland, The Good Wife, Modern Family and The Mentalist, all inevitably fast-tracked from the US, it’s interesting to see if our crop of ads tracked this time makes the most of the good telly and the ratings that go with it.

Fitting nicely with the return of The Mentalist, first up is the return of Patrick Jane in his ANZ guise. Simon Baker first featured in ads for ANZ last year and there was some criticism of his American accent apparent in the ad, but his return suggests that Australia’s leading paid actor delivered for ANZ. This time around there is an overt Australian voiceover in the ad announcing that ANZ “live in your world” while Simon Baker’s likeable role observing a young family in a caf√© helps integrate ANZ into the ad. The results are strong, our 2nd place ad in this quarter’s B&T-Ipsos ASI People’s Choice Awards, with a great level of branded cut-through thanks to above norm levels of enjoyability and a good ability to increase familiarity of the ANZ brand to consumers. Another case closed for Jane.


Ipsos ASI has always reported that there is mileage in incorporating Australia, or a sense of Australian, in ads. We are a patriotic lot and the nod to Aussieness in an ad subconsciously makes us bristle with pride.

A good example would be from the recent Ipsos ASI Olmypiads research measuring the best ads of the London Olympics, where we found the Subway ad featuring two Aussie tradies enjoying their steak and cheese subs was the best performing ad. This was largely due to its sense of mateship and everyday Australian theme.

Three ads this quarter tap into this Aussie theme. Nissan’s ad showcasing the Navara as “Australia’s most powerful tradie”, shows a tradie helping out a group of soldiers whose tank needs a hill start. The Aussie behind the wheel of the Navara tells the soldier that “hill starts are tricky” and “you gotta put it in 2nd and drop the clutch”, and the Navara powerfully pulls the tank over the hill. The ad did a reasonable job of cut-through through a clear message and a reasonable level of enjoyability, but the branding was more category centric than Nissan Navara-specific.

Libra tapped into another Aussie pastime – that growing trend of bootcamp fitness. We see a girl wake up her sleepy housemate at dawn reminding her it’s bootcamp. The housemate complains she has her period and promptly has a pack of Libra pads thrown at her. We then see the girls with a coffee sitting in their car watching some men work out. Cue giggles as we realise the girls aren’t doing bootcamp after all.

The humour works very nicely for Libra and the ad is a winner, with high levels of branded recognition and strong reinforcement of equity building statements of relevance and familiarity. The high scores propelled the ad onto our podium for 3rd place.

Lamb is now on the menu at McDonald’s – and what is more Aussie than lamb? Well, Sam Kekovich and lamb of course. Every year, we see Sam on our screens in January selling us the virtues of Australian lamb as only he can. McDonald’s has brought Kekovich to our screens earlier this year to great effect. With a mammoth level of cut-through and branding, coupled with a clear informative story of a lamb burger now available at McDonald’s plus just enough screenshots of delicious looking ingredients, this ad takes out 1st place this quarter.

Epic advertising

Fittingly for the epic NRL and AFL finals this year, we saw some epic advertising shown at half time.

Carlton ads have long been considered exceptional and the latest in the series of “Made from Beer” is continuing that trend. 

The 90-second beer ad spoofs ‘70s-style car chases with cardboard boxes flying and roadblocks being broken, with steep San Francisco-style streets as the backdrop. All this wrapped in a soft-rock soundtrack “Thunder in your heart” – the ad is a riot of fun.

You probably saw this ad in your inbox first thanks to Facebook and Carlton’s internal marketing to employees making the ad go viral. The ad was shown only a handful of times on TV during the footie finals.

If you’ve seen the ad, it will be no surprise that it scores well in terms of enjoyability and cut-through. But what may be more surprising was the average level of branding to Carlton – a third of respondents could only cite a “beer ad” rather than Carlton. Ipsos ASI databases tell us that the main reason an ad fails is branding, in fact 50% of poor ads can be explained by poor branding. A slightly lower level for Carlton here meant this ad was just pushed out of our top performing ads this quarter.

Foxtel splashed the cash on their latest TV ad too. Chris Hemsworth, fresh from the success of The Avengers, features in the ad where he walks through a house opening doors to a world of high drama, vampires and snow covered lounges.

It’s a fun ad and I’m sure Foxtel licked their lips when Chris Hemsworth signed on the dotted line. There was a danger that he would overshadow the Foxtel brand, but with a strong 4th place achieved thanks to excellent levels of branded recall and a good sense of uniqueness and relevance thrown in, I’m sure we’ll see Chris Hemsworth back for Foxtel.

Leftfield humour

The final three ads we review this month all feature leftfield humour.

The best example of this is the new campaign for V energy drinks. Featuring Glen Gibbons as the founder of V Rentals, we are shown how you can rent some extraordinary experiences, such as bodybuilder removalists, a Jacuzzi truck and a puppy wingman through purchasing cans of V.

Supported by a series of webisodes online, the ad admirably goes after its own unique territory to set it apart as a brand experience. The ad scores fairly but it is apparent that the V rentals promotion is not clear for everyone from the TV ad with low levels of ease of understanding and informative values low. Cut-through was also one of the lower ads this quarter but with the unique style, branding to V is strong and I expect we will see the return of Glen Gibbons to further evolve the V brand in its own unique way.

Canadian Club continues with its use of “beer fairies” in its latest ad, featuring a support group for beer fairies. A beer fairy dies every time someone buys a Canadian club, says John Cleese’s voiceover to great comic effect.

The humour is well liked in the ad and was the catalyst to the Monty Python star lending his voice to the ad. Cleese said in a press release: “I have in fact noticed on recent visits to Oz, a growing proportion of Beer Fairies among the male population. These smelly, overweight vulgarians represent the lumpenproletariat of beer drinkers – sad, dysfunctional creatures. It is therefore, in the interests of all decent Australians, to cull them. Let the slaughter commence!”

Finally, we see the return of Iron Jay as the world crunch champ in the latest ad for I&J Light and Crispy fish fillets. It’s a nice enough, family-friendly ad, with good branding thanks to the Iron jay character, but it looks to have limited brand building potential. Perhaps we’ll see Iron Jay lose his title in the next ad?


McDonald’s (GOLD)  

Agency: DDB Sydney

Recognition: 73%; Brand linkage: 86%; Response: 129; Overall index: 173


Agency: Whybin\TBWA

Recognition: 79%; Brand linkage: 79%; Response: 82; Overall index: 160

Libra (BRONZE)

Agency: Clemenger BBDO

Recognition: 67%; Brand linkage: 55%; Response: 129; Overall index: 115


Agency: Clemenger BBDO

Recognition: 38%; Brand linkage: 83%; Response: 112; Overall index: 99


Agency: Clemenger BBDO

Recognition: 58%; Brand linkage: 42%; Response: 91; Overall index: 77


Agency: BWM

Recognition: 39%; Brand linkage: 63%; Response: 57; Overall index: 69

Nissan Navara

Agency: Whybin\TBWA

Recognition: 45%; Brand linkage: 40%; Response: 76; Overall index: 59

Agency: Clemenger BBDO

Recognition: 30%; Brand linkage: 52%; Response index: 76; Overall index: 54

Canadian Club

Agency: The Works

Recognition: 28%; Brand linkage: 35%; Response: 82; Overall index: 42



Recognition: The percentage of people who claim to have seen the ad on TV recently, based on de-branded stills from the ad in a storyboard format.

Brand linkage: Of those people who recognised the ad, this is the percentage who could correctly identify the brand, product or cause being advertised.

Response: A weighted average of diagnostic statements asked of people who recognised the ad. The diagnostics included familiarity, uniqueness, relevance, persuasion and feeling towards the brand.


The research was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 506 Australian adults aged 18-65. Fieldwork was conducted between 11- 18 October, 2012. Results for ads that were targeting all males and females are cited among their respective target only. Respondents were sampled from I-view’s internet access panel, MyView. The MyView panel contains pre-stratified and compliant respondents, using a double opt-in recruitment process. 

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