Archive for Harvey Norman

Wot is this thing called Mr & Mrs Ozzie?

Posted in Marketing, advertising, ethics with tags , , , , on June 18, 2013 by marketingheart

Two vastly different approaches to selling things to the Australian public under pressure of falling sales: surely the new TV campaign for South Australia’s Barossa region couldn’t be targeting the same species, let alone a similar demographic to the one Harvey Norman’s been yelling at for all these years?

Harvey Norman has created its very own unloved tradition of employing the ugliest, busiest graphics it’s possible to come up with, backed by a screaming voice over and a super-cheesey sting. The whole thing has remained pretty much unchanged for 20 years – until recently that is, when in the face of free-falling sales, a touch of aspirational lifestyle has been creeping in to the commercials, they even use people in some of them. Desperation will lead us to to do the strangest things; suddenly Harvey Norman wants consumers to … like them? Aspire to the products? I guess if you’re as hard sell as it’s possible to be, the only place you have to go is soft.

The new Barossa campaign also has plummeting sales as it raison d’etre, and also responds with an aspirational ad. This one employs lush cinematography, Nick Cave’s moody song Red Hands, and a completely abstract narrative. You’re meant to fall in love -with eating raw meat, I think. Oh and there’s a brand tacked on at the end.

Harvey Norman’s work seems to have emanated from the planet bogan and is targeting the recently lobotomised. The Barossa ad speaks (uber-knowingly)  to inner urban groovers and advertising jury members.

Can either approach be right? Check it out:

Now…just try to sit through this, I dare you (OK I confess it’s not current but the new ones are not that much better):

Harvey Norman is being pummeled by cheaper online competitors. In August last year, executive chairman Gerry Harvey told The Australian Financial Review “We’re now posting probably the worst results we’ve ever posted.” What? You mean those ads scored absolutely no brand loyalty? What a surprise.

Here’s my take: Harvey Norman spent 20 years taking an anti-innovation, anti-creativity and in many ways anti-customer stance and dragged much of Australian retail down the gurgler with him. It’s hard to feel sorry for him and conversely easy to applaud the startups which respect the customer, add value to their experience and – who’da thunk it – even sometimes grapple with the retailer’s role in a world of over-consumption. I really do think it’s too late to reinvent this most ugly of brands; Gone Harvey, and not missed.

As for the Barossa commercial, lots of creative departments will be thoroughly jealous, the agency has done a great job talking this client into running  creativity for its own sake at levels rarely seen outside art school. As for its effectiveness as an ad industry award winner, well, let’s see now. The comments in adland website Campaign Brief  were juicy:

“With a grade that reduces the vivid vibrancy of SA to the dreariness of a wet week in Windemere, a music track that oozes more misery than the blood of the hand in the song and a storyline that feels like the last supper before Christ’s crucifixion, it’s a wonder anybody would willingly travel to the land of Snowtown, with this telling affirmation of its dark and deeply disturbing side,” went one comment.   “Seems like a sad place to go,” said another.  And: “I’ve never been to the Barossa and now I’m sure I don’t want to go.  It looks so damn depressing.” Then: “Too dark guys. Doesn’t make me want to go there at all. Takes me back to Wolf Creek!  Hanging meat on a hook? really!!!!”

Oh, and by the way, in case you’re thinking ‘well at least it’s original” take a look at this Tourism Victoria ad. Which predates it considerably.


Wikileaks vs Mastercard and the big banks… with panache

Posted in Marketing, advertising, ethics with tags , , , , on July 5, 2011 by marketingheart

I blogged yesterday about activist organisation Get-up’s pastiche of retailer Harvey Norman’s TV commercial which it produced to raise awareness about the unsustainable uses of timber in the furniture industry.

But today I have come across a pastiche ad done with so much more panache, that for me at least, it is more effective and more persuasive by a long way.

Great work, that Julian sure knows how to get up noses! And with good cause. According to Wikileaks, for six months now, five major US financial institutions, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal, Western Union and the Bank of America have tried to economically strangle WikiLeaks as a result of political pressure from Washington. The attack has blocked over 90% of the non-profit organization’s donations, costing some $15M in lost revenue. The attack is entirely outside of any due process or rule of law. In fact, in the only formal review to occur, the US Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy C. Geithner found, on January 12, that there were no lawful grounds to add WikiLeaks to a financial blockade. As the Huffington Post put it “I can use Visa and Mastercard to pay for porn and support anti-abortion fanatics, Prop 8 homophobic bigots, and the Ku Klux Klan. But I can’t use (see bbc) them or PayPal to support Wikileaks, transparency, the First Amendment, and true government reform.” Iceland, bless ’em, is thinking of banning Mastercard and Visa over the issue.

The New York Times, following reports that Wikileaks was considering  publishing information in its possession concerning corruption in the financial industry, editorialised: “What would happen if a clutch of big banks decided that a particularly irksome blogger or other organization was “too risky”? What if they decided — one by one — to shut down financial access to a newspaper that was about to reveal irksome truths about their operations?”

Who says corporations have too much power? Will this be resolved in Assange’s favour? Is Wikileaks to be denied the same justice shared by the rest of us? Is such justice an illusion allowed only until we threaten the invested powers?

ps..yes I know, pastiche with panache sounds like a french bakery! I could have gone with parody but it’s just not as..mouthwatering is it?

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Consumers bite back as retail giant cops an online beating.

Posted in Marketing, advertising, ethics, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 19, 2011 by marketingheart

Darn that crazy internet thing, eh Gerry, it’s really making life tough.

I find Harvey Norman’s oh-so-ubiquitous ear-bashing style of advertising offensive, condescending and crass. (Harvey Norman is Australia’s leading electrical retailer). However, the public seems to accept the ads and has supported the retail giant mightily with their wallets for years. But clearly the subject of Santa is more sensitive than our poor ears…recently Harvey Norman (fondly known as Hardly Normal) ran a Christmas radio spot which talked about Santa getting a lap dance. Not so much Ho Ho as Tut tut, at least as far as blogger Melinda Tankard Reist was concerned.

You see Ms TR twittered her outrage about the offending ad and the support she received forced the retailer to pull the ad.You can read her self-congraluatory blog post here.

Clearly, Hardly Normal’s people were clearly monitoring social media coverage. So they must be upset indeed by the phenomenally vehement response to their boss’s disastrous proclamations about online purchases below $1000 being unfairly tax free. Years ago Gerry Harvey rejected the need for a decent website let alone a proper multi-channel retailing strategy and he must be ruing his short-sightedness as he watches millions of dollars move online (where lower prices are now even lower thanks to the strength of the Australian dollar). His response, along with other (old school) retail big wigs Solly Lew and Bernie Brooks essentially informed the last few remaining punters who weren’t buying on line that they should be; and furthermore was read by the public as being the whinging of a few billionaires who’d been ripping them off for years.

Typical of this: Solomon Lew pointed out that approximately a billion dollars a month is going offshore via online sales, adding
“Now, that billion dollars a month is doing nothing for Australia. There is no Australian suppliers that are involved, there is no Australian labour that’s involved”. Instant and universal response: a dishonest nationalist call rendered utterly hypocritical by the fact that he’s pretty much exclusively selling imported goods himself.

In my view, the extent of this backlash is newsworthy in its own right. This is about the strongest consumer reaction I’ve ever seen. Just scan the comments at the bottom of this story from the SMH – one of many such examples. The net always promised to level the balance of power between corporations and their customers, and this is one of the best examples. (The rejection of Gap’s new logo is another).
Gerry Harvey STFU
Having made a fortune from cutting out the middle man, Gerry is belatedly discovering that he’s a middle man too. And that his folksy man-of-the-people image is utterly without credibility. And that his store experience is detested. And, yes, his ads have come in for a few hits (surprisingly few I reckon). Leading retail business Inside Retailing site pulled no punches in critiquing Harvey et al’s misjudged campaign.

Lastly, outside of the retail billionaires club, the retail industry has rightly turned on him…Fair Imports Alliance spokesperson Brad Kitschke said the campaign had proven “a public relations nightmare” for the broader retail community. “We have been working on this issue for a long time. Where was Gerry Harvey or Solomon Lew when we were fighting to have this issue addressed in July 2010 or for the five years before that? They have jumped on board at the last minute and have royally stuffed things up,” he said. (Fair Import Alliance represents the Australian Retailers Association, Australian Sporting Goods Association, Bicycle Industries Australia, Australian Toy Association, Photo Marketing Association, Australian Fishing Trade Association, Australian Booksellers Association, Australian Music Association and the Retail Cycle Traders Australian).

As one post put it: Go, Harvey, Go!
consumer rebellion