Q&A with Graeme Yardy
Producing this year’s Australian Lamb campaign called for plenty of ingenuity amid the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 restrictions, as MLA Domestic Market Manager, Graeme Yardy explains.
Q: What was involved in producing the campaign?
A: The ad was filmed over three days at the end of November in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales in some extreme weather. It took a few months of planning the actual shoot, but we had been working on the idea and the approach to it since about February.
The first big challenge was to ensure that we were COVID-19 safe. There is a very strict code of conduct that goes even beyond the government requirements to ensure the safety of the cast and crew, and we took a zero-risk approach.
Another of the challenges presented by COVID-19 was we couldn’t bring ‘Lambassador’ Sam Kekovich from Melbourne to NSW for the shoot. We had to film a tank going through a wall in NSW and then have Sam in a studio in Melbourne performing his line. As usual, Sam was a good sport and loved the ad.
Other trickery involved creating walls across Australia. They’re obviously computer generated but we wanted to make sure that they looked as realistic as possible and also give a sense of place and scale.
We knew if we just filmed it against a wall somewhere in Sydney and tried to get people to imagine that this is everywhere, that would be too big of a leap of faith.
Q: Where did the idea for the campaign originate?
A: When MLA Lamb Brand Manager, Anna Sharp, and I started talking about it, we were all in lockdown, so COVID-19 was a hot topic already in the public conversation. That was definitely an early conversation we had – would this be the big, defining issue of 2020?
We spent a lot of time thinking about what if borders are open or closed, how long does go on, and how do people feel about this? The situation for many people has been very hard and we wanted to make sure we took that into account.
We were always going to look for a way that would be very much about Lamb bringing people together but in a very Australian Lamb way.
Overwhelmingly, the great thing about Australia is that we can laugh at ourselves and look back and appreciate we’re handling this as best we possibly can.
I think most Australians think the tone we landed was right – we’re one country and dividing us into states doesn’t really make a lot of sense. We’re dealing with this thing pretty well compared to a lot of other countries and I think Australians were probably ready for a bit of a laugh.
Q: It’s been just under a week since the campaign launch, what has been the impact so far?
A: At the mid-point of week one, I am delighted to report that the campaign has got off to a fantastic start. The overall response and sentiment from media and consumers via traditional and social media has been overwhelmingly positive. Many are hailing the advert as the ‘best one yet’ with the video trending number one on YouTube with over 1 million views on Youtube and Facebook and over 450 media articles. It’s great to see many of the comments in social media saying that the advert has not only hit the right tone but has also inspired people to head out and purchase some lamb!
Q: What other activities does the campaign involve?
A: The campaign runs for a further six weeks, with ongoing and new activations appearing across a number of channels, including billboards later in January. To keep lamb top of mind and drive sales, the campaign will also connect with consumers along the ‘path to purchase’ with digital screens in retail outlets that are product-focused and deliver meal inspiration.
This year, we have introduced a promotion with Melbourne-based foodservice platform, Providoor.
It’s a platform for consumers to order meals from 40 of the top restaurants in Melbourne. Foodservice, particularly in Victoria, has had a really tough year, and we wanted to do something to support foodservice. During the promotion, when consumers order lamb dishes through Providoor, they have the opportunity to win prizes.
We are doing some work with radio partnerships and we will also have some out of home advertising in very prominent locations launching in time for the Australia Day weekend, which is always a big sales weekend for lamb.