Brand Position

  • What does McDonald’s really deliver?

    May 08, 2015 | Written by Simon Antonis

    I just finished reading an article by actor James Franco where he talks about McDonald’s, and its current predicament; declining sales and trends towards healthier foods.

    More to the point, he talks about how he really wants them to succeed. McDonald’s means a lot to him, not because of what they sell, but because he has an emotional attachment to the brand that stems back many years.

    When I read the article I could really relate to what he was saying. But I wasn’t sure why. I too want McDonald’s to successfully reinvigorate its brand. I too have a connection to this brand, even though I rarely eat there these days (although my kids do). 


    Thinking more about that, I was reminded of my first ever trip overseas, fresh out of high school, arriving at Copenhagen’s central station on my own. I had an overwhelming sense of “what the hell am I doing here”. As expected, everything was unfamiliar and I couldn’t work out how to get to the hostel I was staying at. Fair to say I was in a mild panic.

    Looking out the station window, in the distance, I saw something that had an immediate calming effect over my mind and body. The Golden Arches. It was like a lighthouse in the fog. I walked across, and on opening the door, a sense of calm washed over me. For a moment, I was back in Melbourne.

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    08.05 2015
  • Sir Alex Ferguson. How many brand managers get knighted?

    May 30, 2013 | Written by Alex Fenton

    Sir Alex Ferguson managed the Manchester United brand for nearly 27 years, through almost 1500 games. From the moment he arrived at Old Trafford he called himself “the keeper of the temple”. There was always the humble recognition that he was walking in the shadows of famous footsteps. His mission going forward then, was always one that looked back respectfully to the history of one of England’s most venerable clubs.

    Through the early lean years of his stewardship to a fabulous dynasty of trophy domination. Through Giggs, Beckham, Cantona, Ronaldo, van Nistelrooy, Rooney and van Persie. Through it all, he understood that he was the custodian of a very special brand. His guiding principle was that Manchester United was a team bus and no one player or person was ever bigger than the bus. He offered his players that he could take them to success and glory, but they all had to agree to get on board bus Man United.

    Ferguson was a ‘hands on’ brand manager who knew the importance of not letting any part of the brand architecture out of his remit. He was active across every brand touchpoint: a legend in talent spotting, he showed great skill in managing players from young whizz kids to petulant superstars, he was the voice of the adoring supporters, he was the brand warrior who stood up to any official he deemed to have crossed the Red Devils, he even managed the players’ tea, “Sugar with that Becks?”

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    30.05 2013
  • A day with Ritson

    Jul 17, 2012 | Written by

    I recently attended a workshop with the marketing guru Mark Ritson. For those who haven't heard of Ritson nor read any of his many articles, I suggest you do so, quick smart, see his website here or follow him on Twitter. Ritson is a self confessed brand expert – or in his words "I know a fuck load about branding and that’s about it." He has an intimidating amount of knowledge about branding and brand management which was really motivating throughout the whole day.

    Ritson explains that brands "are like humans; they are born, some die and some live on forever." It's so important when managing a brand to go back to the brand DNA and heritage to base advertising strategy and communication. He got me thinking, there are so many brands who try too hard to be someone or something they are not. They're not Real. They are caught up in the success or expansion of a brand and sway away from the REAL character of the brand.

    Heineken have punched out yet another great TV ad in a series which in my mind says it all for their brand "open your world".

    And a classic ad from James Boag’s "from the pure waters of Tasmania".

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    17.07 2012
  • Is NAB for REAL?

    Nov 09, 2011 | Written by Simon Antonis


    One thing our industry (marketing and communications) is often guilty of is being too close to our own work. We sometimes find it hard to have an objective view of how deeply a campaign has resonated with customers (which is all that matters in the end).  I can’t help but think this is the case with NAB and their recent rate move.

    The ‘more give, less take’ promise by NAB to its customers was a bold move, but one that seemed to pay great dividends. It won a heap of awards, got people talking, and won NAB market share. You can imagine those in the NAB marketing department being pretty satisfied for having developed and executed a differentiated  strategy in a market where it is particularly difficult to do so, and characterised by ‘short-term’ shifts in strategic focus.  The campaign would have been 6-12 months in development, and has now been in the marketplace for a similar time.

    I am sure customer research results were also very positive.

    But what is difficult to measure is how ‘deeply’ a campaign has resonated with customers. It’s hard for people to tell you that, research can only uncover so much. Customers have been cynical of banks since day one.  There is a deep-seated view by most customers that banks are all the same.

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    09.11 2011