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BOTW: The referendum post mortem begins; Selling cars and cinema to Indecisive Dave; Ten's footy fail
Welcome to Best of the Week, edited during an all-too-short pit stop in beautiful Sisters Beach, Tasmania. Tomorrow it’s back to Sydney for South by Southwest.
Today: How the campaign strategists squibbed the case for yes; the hunt for new narratives in upfronts season; and Ten has a morning to forget in live sport.
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All is lost
Tim Burrowes writes:
There’ll be an extra stop to make on the way to my afternoon game of chess at the general store this afternoon. I’ll be one of perhaps a couple of hundred people dropping in at the volunteer fire station to cast my vote in the referendum.
During the 2017 marriage equality plebiscite, I recall feeling envious that, as a non-citizen, I wasn’t directly taking part in what was a joyful occasion.
This afternoon, as a citizen, there will be little of that joy. It’s been a bad tempered, grinding campaign that seems to have created little pleasure for either side.
The strategists behind the No campaign will, however, at least enjoy the satisfaction having outplayed the Yes team. On messaging, on agenda-setting and on the ad buy, the No’s had it.
Mainly seeing Tasmanian television, my viewing experience may not have replicated that watching in the metro capitals. My sense is that the No campaign outspent Yes by two-to-one. At the very least, that’s the impression left based on the persuasiveness of both sides’ advertising campaigns.
If that was a specifically Tasmanian thing, then itself that was a smart media buy. Changing the constitution requires winning a majority of states. In which case why not go hard in the state where you can book a prime time TV ad for less than $10,000?
Mind you, if any state surprises the pollsters - who are all predicting a resounding victory for No - it could be Tasmania. The Tassie sample sizes have been so small they’ve rendered much of the polling unreliable. Today’s AFR poll / JWS Research poll - reporting a No lead in every state except the deadlocked Victoria - had to exclude Tasmania because it’s sample size was too small.
Corflutes don’t count as votes, but it was noticeable on my three hour drive across North West Tasmania yesterday that Yes posters were far more common than no.
Strategically, the No campaign advertising was more direct, and cleverer. Almost exclusively featuring First Nations people, the sheer volume and repetition of the ads built an impression for those not particularly close to the issues that Aboriginal people were voting no.
There was also a cleverness to the No campaign which relentlessly hammered home the message that the referendum was divisive and so would the Voice be. It gave those undecided or edging towards voting no an emotional permission to do so, and to be left feeling they had done a good thing.
Meanwhile the Yes campaign was never persuasive in why The Voice would actually make a difference. “Nothing else has worked” may be the truth of it, but it did’t win over voters
Perhaps the Voice was always doomed to fail once it became a bipartisan campaign. Given how poor the campaign was, we’ll never know.
How we covered the launch of the referendum campaign:
Telling brand stories to an agreeable audience
I’d make a terrible CMO. I score higher than is healthy on the psychological trait of agreeableness, which means I’d be constantly in danger of buying whatever half-baked campaign idea the creative department leans on the agency suit to sell in.
I notice it during Upfronts season. I enter the room intent on a cold hearted assessment of the company’s chances, and leave fired up with hopes for an against-the-odds success.
There was a character in the British comedy show Fast Show known as Indecisive Dave who would constantly change his mind to please the people he was talking to. That’s me, that is.
I’m about to go through that process again, I’m sure. Ahead of Seven’s Upfronts at SXSW on Wednesday, I find myself wondering how on earth they can craft an optimistic story. With a declining audience in a disrupted medium in a down market, a version of “Soon we’ll have digital rights to the AFL too” isn’t going to cut it.
Yet I’ve a hunch that once the lights come down inside the Darling Harbour Theatre and the mid tempo vintage hip hop starts pumping. I’ll find myself swept along by James Warburton’s aggressive salesmanship.
I don’t think I’ve ever left an Upfronts where I haven’t been at least marginally influenced towards the positive.
I experienced it this week. Twice.
First at Val Morgan’s presentation on consumer segmentation, then at Carsales’ Open House.
There are a number of reasons to run this sort of event. At the most basic, it’s to make sure the market understands what the media company offers, and to move them up in their consideration. But more importantly, it’s a chance to make the case for a disproportionately large slice of the cake.
Val Morgan did that particularly well. It wasn’t a full upfront event but rather a breakfast to create buzz around a new segment on their cinema planning tool.
They rolled out social scientist Ross Honeywill to talk about his favourite tribe - NEOs. The Greek word for new, NEO also (in some epic post-rationalisation, I suspect) stands for New Evolutionary Optimists or New Economic Order.
As Honeywill’s preso continued, I could feel myself going full Indecisive Dave. Every marketer and agency planner should build every campaign around NEOs, I quickly concluded.
The NEOs aren’t so much a social economic group as a psycho-social group, argues Honeywill. They spend money on cool stuff, and influence others to do the same. And they’ve got the money to do so in the first place. They over-index on most brand activities, argues Honeywill, as he now has through three books, so should be at the centre of most consumer marketing strategies.
These are the people who’ve got the money, confidence and inclination to keep spending. Marketers should love NEOs’ willingness to fall in love with nice stuff, even as central bankers curse them for pushing inflation higher thanks to their reluctance to slow down even as interest rates rise.
It was then a small step for Val Morgan’s strategy director Paul MacGregor to share the Roy Morgan Research data that indicated that the country’s five million NEOs over-index for cinema going. Super NEOs and Hyper NEOs even more so. And of course the news that NEOs are now offered as a planning segment in the company’s ad planning segment CineTAM flowed on naturally.
The next morning, Carsales took a different, but equally effective, approach for their target advertisers.
It was less social science and more rational funnel discussion, backed with proof points about the ability to data match with advertiser data bases and deliver sales attribution.
In the main specific to the automotive sector (of course), the case became compelling as a key way for marketers to catch consumers who are closing in on making final decisions around their car choice.
It was all marketing funnel logic, even while acknowledging that consumers don’t travel down the funnel as neatly as the theory would have it.
Again, it was a successful argument for a disproportionately large slice of the pie.
Which does raise the question: The maths means that not everybody gets a disproportionately large slice. So who misses out?
Back of the net
It was an early start this morning to catch the boy Matildas lose to England at Wembley.
Ten had a technical nightmare, with the feed from the UK repeatedly dropping out, particularly in the first half. The commentary team - doing it remotely from Australia - wasn’t able to fill in the gaps because they didn’t know what was happening either.
The key moment missed was the Socceroos’ strongest chance to take an early lead when Keanu Baccus forced a save.
In the scheme of things, it didn’t matter. It was, after all, only a friendly.
However, it was a bad look for Ten and owner Paramount, which has lost out on sporting rights repeatedly in recent years. While bidding highest is a major factor, in a close race, the confidence of sporting codes that their broadcast partner will deliver on the viewing experience is also a table stake.
After the nightmare of Floptus, imagine what went on behind the scenes at Optus for the Women’s World Cup this time round which ensured that not a second was missed.
This morning’s technical problems were probably not Paramount’s fault directly. The feed would been supplied by the UK-based production company. However, British TV viewers didn’t experience the dropouts, so it would have been possible to have a contingency plan for an alternate feed. That sort of work must be done behind the scenes all the time.
Meanwhile, the functionality of the Paramount+ app has been a bugbear for A League fans, frustrated that unlike with rivals apps they have until now been unable to pause live streams.
As the AFR’s Zoe Samios revealed this morning, some of the only international rights currently in play are for soccer. Football Australia has secured the local rights to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2027. It will sell them as a package alongside qualifiers and friendlies for both the men and women’s teams. And FIFA is currently auctioning the right’s for the Men’s World Cup.
It would have been a good moment to demonstrate the ability to give viewers a reliable viewing experience.
Unmade Index tanks after a week of positive performance
Seja Al Zaidi writes
After a strong week, the Unmade Index faltered yesterday and dropped 1.71% back down to 616.6 points. The Index measures how ASX-listed media and marketing stocks perform on a daily basis.
The bigger stocks mostly faltered - Domain fell 3.75%, and Nine 2.43%. ARN Media dropped 3.37%, while Southern Cross Austereo had a 2.61% tumble. Smaller stock Pureprofile fell 3.57%.
Seven had a significantly better day, rising 3.39%, while Enero Group rose 3.09%. Ooh Media lifted 0.35%.
Campaign of the Week: ‘Unaccept Inequality’
In each edition of BOTW, our friends at Little Black Book Online highlight their most interesting advertising campaign of the week.
LBB’s ANZ reporter Tom Loudon writes:
On behalf of Oxfam Australia, Bullfrog's "Unaccept Inequality" campaign tackles social injustices by leveraging Ecca Vandal's voice to spotlight global inequalities causing poverty. The campaign catalyses change by urging Australians to reject inequality and promote collective action, making it a prime candidate for Campaign of the Week due to its potential to spark progress in pursuing a more equitable world.
In case you missed it:
On Tuesday, we asked the industry for their book reocmmendations:
On Wednesday, we pulled back the curtain on our recent AI invention, TimBot:
On Thursday, we interviewed adman and radio star Russel Howcroft on how he’s transitioning to his new career:
On Friday, we offered a wrap-up of Wednesday’s REmade retail media conference:
Time to leave you to your weekend.
My next job: Belatedly working out how to navigate the somewhat daunting (and last time I looked, somewhat incomplete) SXSW program. Tomorrow’s job: Travel back to Sydney for SXSW.
Hav ea great weekend
Publisher - Unamde