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‘Yes’ has been woven into Optus’ fabric for close to 30 years, and — according to the brand’s agency, Special Group — is second in recognizability in Australia only to Qantas’ iconic kangaroo. Smart marketers are well-aware of the need to consistently reinforce their assets over time to create an instant short cut to the brand.
While the tagline hasn’t always been a focal point of the brand’s marketing communications over this stretch, its latest ‘It starts with yes’ platform — introduced in 2020 as part of a broader brand refresh — has again brought it to the fore. ‘Tis the season of yes’ marks the third major campaign instalment, with the ad taking viewers through the heart-warming story of two sugar gliders preparing for the arrival of a baby — inspired by similar life events being experienced by the nearby human family.
As part of our work testing all major Christmas campaigns in Australia, we assessed the ad’s effectiveness using our 3 C’s framework:
We’ve seen it countless times before — cute and adorable animals are a sure-fire way to tug at people’s heartstrings. This was no different for Optus, with the adorable sugar glider and its brave adventure through the family’s house evoking intrigue and leaving people feeling warm and happy.
While the pleasantness of the ad did mean the ad set a very passive tone — further accentuated by the calm and relaxing music of Bread’s classic ‘Everything I Own’ — this was offset by both the storyline and music being thoroughly enjoyed.
Built upon the brand’s ‘Optimism in Action’ strategy, Optus’ new platform has made a point of bringing greater meaning to the ‘yes’ tagline, with each of the three instalments taking a similar approach in rewinding to the moment where a simple ‘yes’ started everything.
With ‘yes’ the conclusion of each campaign instalment, it successfully reinforced a powerful brand asset — with nearly half of people recognizing it as an identifiable element. However, while ‘yes’ aimed to be the facilitator of the events transpiring, many were confused about what the story had to do with Optus.
Clarity is a prerequisite for advertising success — regardless of strategy. Therefore, it’s vital that both the narrative, and the brand’s role within the narrative, are easily understood. Without this the ad’s ability to instill the desired emotions and leave a lasting impression is much more limited.
Confusion was a significant issue for ‘Tis the season of yes’, relating to two key aspects:
1. Though ‘yes’ featured at the ad’s apex, this link back to the brand still wasn’t overly clear; and
2. Many people were perplexed about the story itself, specifically the intent behind the sugar glider sneaking around the family home to build its own bassinets.
While the approach presented Optus as being different to other telcos, this lack of clarity ultimately impeded more favorable attitudes from being formed.
Optus’ ‘Tis the season of yes’ achieved success on a number of fronts. While the commonly held belief is that brands in ‘lower interest’ categories can’t generate strong emotional impact, Optus did this with aplomb — animals, storytelling, and music are all powerful mechanisms for generating appeal, regardless of category.
However, it’s also true that advertising rarely succeeds when people are left confused. It’s important to keep in mind that people don’t actively seek out ads, let alone have any inclination to spend extra mental effort trying to decipher them. Driving commercial effects necessitates advertising working in the same fast, intuitive, and “lazy” way the human brain operates.
While Optus struck the right emotional chord and has one of Australia’s most powerful brand assets, a lack of clarity and cohesion ultimately prevented it from hitting a home run.