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This is a self-funded case study using our Ad Testing solution.
When it comes to Christmas advertising, AusPost has set a high benchmark over the last few years, taking the crown for Australia’s Most Effective Christmas Ad in both 2019 and 2020. ‘Spread The Merry’ has excelled for its engaging and wholesome stories that tap into the spirit of Christmas, without feeling artificial or cliché — all the while tying effortlessly back to what it means to be Australian.
Which brings us to 2021 and, drum roll… AusPost has — for an unprecedented third year running — come out on top of our Australian rankings! This time the brand edged out ALDI by the slimmest of margins.
Although sitting under the same campaign umbrella, 2021’s creative approach is a noticeable departure. Gone is the heart-warming story featuring a child who saves Christmas, instead replaced with a multitude of mailboxes singing Hall and Oates’ ‘You Make My Dreams’. In many ways, it’s reminiscent of Amazon’s singing boxes — which we recently wrote about given the curious decision to depart from such a powerful asset.
Given the pivot, how did 2021’s spot benchmark using the 3 C’s of advertising success?
While many ads this Christmas have adopted softer and gentler tones, AusPost purposefully upped the ante — with CMO Amber Collins referring to 2021’s campaign as “the ultimate expression of festive joy”. And it worked — the upbeat and catchy song, together with bubbly singing postboxes, evoked feelings of happiness and warmth. This helped the ad achieve greater stand out than in previous years.
In the absence of a strong, character-driven, emotionally-led story — fundamental to the appeal of prior year’s ads — the 2021 campaign didn’t achieve quite the same level of enjoyment. However, bright and fun executional elements still had viewers tapping their toes.
This year’s ad pulled on a slightly different set of levers to create a meaningful connection to AusPost. Rather than finding a tenuous role for the brand in the story, AusPost instead leveraged a more relevant set of devices to cue people into the brand — singing mailboxes, parcel deliveries (by a familiar red truck), AusPost lockers and postboxes, etc. These elements were all more recessive in prior years.
At the same time, departing from the heart-warming, family-focused theme established over recent years, did leave some feeling the ad didn’t align as closely with their expectations of AusPost.
The depiction of a diverse range of metropolitan and regional locations, homes and postboxes, ensured a level of relatability that surpassed the narrower family focus of both 2019 and 2020.
While 2021’s campaign continued to elicit very high levels of happiness, previous years successes have come from heart-warming stories of young children going out of their way to help those in need — in-turn delivering depth of emotional resonance that this year’s musical number couldn’t quite replicate.
This ultimately meant that predisposition was slightly weaker than in prior years; however, on-going delays across AusPost’s delivery network — the result of continued lockdowns in 2021 — are likely clouding some people’s (current) feelings toward the postal service.
Time and time again we see character-driven storytelling at the heart of advertising which connects with audiences. It was something AusPost deployed with great success in 2019 and 2020, and it was a risky decision to depart from this formula in 2021.
But there’s many paths to advertising success, and ‘fresh consistency’ is an important element of campaigns which endure. With less focus this year on narrative building, 2021’s campaign instead utilized music — a powerful lever that can instantly capture viewers’ attention and amplify emotional impact. When used in conjunction with humor, the pairing rarely fails.
AusPost’s goal was to be “a bit more merry” in 2021, while at the same time many of Australia’s biggest brands adopted themes relating to the “new normal” — resulting in AusPost successfully lifting itself above the Christmas clutter.
AusPost is now Australia’s top performer for the third time in a row, a feat made even more remarkable given the change in creative direction. It’s a reminder again that — no matter the strategy — if the 3 C’s of success (Captivate + Connect + Compel) are adhered to, profitable brand outcomes will ensue. Bravo, AusPost!
Check out our full Christmas Ad Testing leaderboard.