In our industry, people can tend to be quite critical at times. Not that I’m one of them, of course – Heaven forfend that I would ever indulge in such negativity.
Anyway, I thought it would be nice to start off the year with praise for an advertising campaign that I admire.
Now, just to warn you, this campaign is not the kind of work that will clean up at Cannes. It doesn’t target millennials. It wasn’t made using AI. It hasn’t been promoted by any of the Kardashian-Jenners on Instagram. And it’s not even particularly new.
But in spite – or perhaps because – of those reasons, it has all the hallmarks of a very effective campaign. I would be willing to bet that it’s doing a bang-up job for the client.
The campaign, by Clemenger BBDO in Brisbane, is for a retail company known as BCF (Boating, Camping and Fishing). If you live in Australia, you probably know of it, because it gets a lot of airtime in various media (but more on that shortly).
Here’s one of the TV spots from the campaign.
So, what does this campaign do well?
Here are my thoughts.
I do tend to bang on about this – just ask my colleagues or clients or incredibly bored friends – but it’s a point that bears repeating. Getting attention is the sine qua non of advertising. As Bill Bernbach once said: ‘if your advertising goes unnoticed, everything else is academic’.
And this campaign got noticed from the outset – its semi-sweary ‘BCF-ing fun’ line generated quite a few complaints to the Advertising Standards Board. To my mind, it uses just the right amount of provocation to get attention.
I know, I know, these days it’s not de rigueur to feature one’s brand name when advertising one’s, er, brand. But this lot have obviously decided to zag when others zig.
If you removed every mention of ‘BCF’ from this campaign, it would be nonsensical. So it’s not (only) advertising a product – it is advertising the BCF brand. That might not sound like rocket science, but it’s surprising how many advertisements don’t do this.
Again, this represents a pretty radical departure from most modern advertising. The campaign tells you – literally and repeatedly – that if you want to go boating, camping or fishing, this place is for you. And it doesn’t even resort to hackneyed buzzwords. How quaint!
The people behind this campaign have clearly made a conscious decision to build ‘BCF-ing’ into a distinctive brand asset (i.e. a brand identity element that is both unique and famous). They’ve even used it as the basis for a good old-fashioned jingle – and let me tell you, it does a fine job of getting stuck in your BCF-ing head.
The campaign also features some secondary brand assets, such as the bearded man character and even the general style of the advertising. These elements are all consistent across the campaign, which is crucial for building memorability.
Media channels are a contentious topic in marketing circles. But one thing is indisputable: if you want your advertising to work, you need to get it in front of your potential customers – ideally several times. Again, this isn’t exactly particle physics we’re dealing with.
Moreover, integration is critical: the more channels a campaign uses, the more effective it appears to become. And evidently the BCF team agrees. From what I can tell, this campaign has run across (at least) TV, radio, outdoor, print, direct mail and social media. And it runs frequently too – the ads are almost impossible to avoid if you watch TV (which most people still do).
Short-termism bedevils modern marketing, partly because of an understandable tendency for marketers to tire of their advertising well before their customers do. And the inevitable upshot is that their brand baby gets thrown out with their campaign bathwater.
By contrast, the BCF campaign has been running since 2016. Clearly, the team behind it understands that brand-building campaigns demand a long-term commitment.
This observation is a little more subjective. After all, one person’s ‘fun’ is another’s ‘I’d rather be disembowelled with a Rogue Double Grip 170 fishing gaff’. (If you’re the latter type, I know a place that sells them.)
Subjectivity notwithstanding, this campaign is obviously not meant to be taken too seriously. It’s meant to reflect the enjoyment of being outdoors, assuming you’re that way inclined. No earnest voiceover. No worthy social purpose. Just a bit of cheeky fun that’s consistent with the brand.
With the above considerations in mind, how effective is this campaign likely to be? What does it mean for BCF?
Does it mean that you will rush out to BCF tomorrow and buy 50 litres of marine oil? Probably not.
What a campaign like this does is increase the likelihood that you will choose BCF over another brand when you next go boating, camping or fishing. As Bob Hoffman points out, there are no guarantees in marketing – it’s all about likelihoods and probabilities.
This kind of advertising is as simple (and difficult) as that.
So, bravo to the team behind the campaign. Like I said earlier, it’s not the kind of work that blows you away with its creativity – but sometimes you just need to stick to the basics. No need to push the boat out.