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Brand Building

Brand Building

You might not know it but there is an unannounced battle raging on your TV screens. This has been going on for some time but not every one has been aware of the intense competition.  I am not talking about Channels 9 vs. 7 vs. 10 rating battles between their fucking inane reality TV shows. Seriously, what level of egotistical self-delusion do you need to have reached to want to appear on this engineered crap? Why do people watch this shit? Arrgh!


Sigh!  So as you can probably guess I don’t watch much commercial TV and therefore I don’t see a lot of ads. I don’t miss 99% of them. I mean every now and again there is a gem with creativity, wit and production values but it happens less and less as different channels to market take up the advertising dollars. For the record my most recent favourite was the Australia Day Lamb ad, a good return to form for a long running favourite.


There are some ads that are just average but are for me strangely compelling. These are the ads featuring a brand ambassador, the actor, sportsperson, cultural icon or even better an average Joe or Joanne actor who is chosen to be the face of …someone or something.


The brand spokesperson has had a long and glittering role in advertising from the very beginning of the evil art. My incredibly detailed research i.e. Wikipedia lookup, tells me that in fact the first occurrences of brand ambassadors, aka famous persons flogging endorsement for a fee, might have been in the 1940s with US baseball players  


I am no expert on who is doing the best job currently on being a brand ambassador and flogging product in terms of generating revenue but over the last weekend due to circumstances beyond my control i.e. a teenage party relegating me to the part of the house that has a TV with no Netflix, I was reacquainted and became familiar with a few well known champions and two relative new contenders.


Ladies and Gentlemen I give you the Nimble Loan Bunny, Sunny the young girl championing the Suncorp brand, the actress representing Trivago and the heavyweights seemingly doomed to fight for their car brands till eternity or we all have hover skateboards and jet packs - Ford Woman versus Toyota Woman.


I watched their latest ads in between some movie that I had seen three or four times before. During the movie I decided I would rate the spokesperson’s performance out of 5 for no really good reason other than my brain finds the ordering process fun and satisfying. Rating and cataloguing are very good indeed.


Now the really interesting thing here is that all these spokespeople are not famous celebrities or sports stars but actors. I can now imagine that the purists and the fresh graduates from Uni with their marketing or advertising or comms degrees are going to nag me and say, “Scott are you sure that these are brand ambassadors and not just mere commercial actors playing a part?” Because none of these people is a footy player or an Australian cricketer or the big comedian that everyone loves.

And I will look down upon them from up high and smote them and say, “Yes they are ambassadors because of the following reasons: -

A. Purists and Uni graduates are annoying and anyway are not writing this blog and

B. The actors are up for repeat performances and are exhibiting desirable values about the brand.”

Now can we get to the good bit, the rating?


I actually quite enjoy the Nimble personal loan ads. The product is borderline morally reprehensible but the man in the rabbit suit is so chipper and earnest. I wouldn’t buy the product myself because I’m lucky enough not to have needed it but you never know.  If things go pear shaped I guess borrowing money at outrageous interest rates is better than stealing and now the nice happy bunny man has given me a brand I feel good about.  Score 3/5


Now when it comes to charisma Sunny has it in spades, although I am not sure how someone who is aged about 11 is supposed to be the best person to sell banking and insurance. Still Suncorp is pushing itself to the female and family market with its sponsorship of the netball so why not. Great use of music too so for me the ads cut through, that’s ad industry talk for do well, don’t you know. Score 3.5/5


The big battle I was referring too at the beginning was of course the long running slugfest between the Ford and Toyota spokeswomen. The Ford and Toyota girls sell differently. Toyota sells more steak and Ford uses a bit more sizzle if you know what I mean. Neither one makes me want to buy one of their cars but both have been around for a long time so I guess they must be helping move product.


I looked up their names. Ford Girl is Ngaire Dawn Fair and yes there is a fan site on the net should you be so inclined. Toyota Girl is Lydia Sarks and there is also a USA Toyota girl so if you are into cultural comparisons go to YouTube and go for your life. Good job for a long time from both of them but I am going to give it to The Toyota Girl in a near thing 3/5 and 3.5/5 respectively.


My favourite is the Trivago girl. Sorry I didn’t look up her name but I know she has been in a couple of Aussie TV dramas. Despite the seemingly dozens of ads she has done she always sounds believable and looks like she is having fun. So obviously she can act. Sunny has charisma but the Trivago girl has credibility and smarts as well. The opposition spokesperson is an animated polar bear. Got no chance. 4.5/5


Not every spokesperson ad works as well as these. Rebel Wilson’s ads for Audible, Amazon’s audio books are just crap. I presume she needed the coin. Better are the ads for ING Bank with Isla Fisher but only just. It is hard to make such funny women unfunny but the copywriters for these ads have managed to do it.


Personal favourite spokesperson ads

Paul Hogan and Tourism Australia – cringe worthy now but genius back then

Spinal Tap and Findus – great use of talent

The baby and Banana Boat – cause I liked it

Rob the Dentist and Oral B- the anti spokesperson spokesperson ad