Droga was wrong, we’re not making ‘shit’ ads. It’s worse than that.

What were the last five ads you saw? I’ll wait while you try to remember.

Chances are you’ve seen a couple of dozen ads in the last 30 minutes, there’s probably a couple to the right of this paragraph, but if you click off this page I bet you’d struggle to recall what they were.

Recently US-based ad executive David Droga told the Australian Financial Review: “The world sees marketing as just the attention side of things, shouting and disruption. And what doesn’t help is the majority of marketing is shit. I mean, it really is, let’s be honest. The death of our industry was the lazy and formulaic nature of what we did.”

I think he’s wrong. Not because most marketing is good, but because the majority of what we’re now turning out isn’t even good enough to be referred to as shit. Let me explain.

The thing with shit ads is that you remember them – they have impact. I defy anyone not to remember seeing these ads for Lube Mobile and Coles for a long time. They’ve certainly stuck with me.


Snobbishly, we as an industry call these shit. Why? Because we’ve allowed subjectivity to rule and not the fundamentals of what works.

You only need to go on Campaign Brief and look at the comments on one of the most successful campaigns of the year – Tourism Australia – and you’ll see the problem laid bare.

Or look at the recent Amazon Christmas ad which Campaign Mag UK have awarded the Turkey of The Week award. This ad tested off the charts with System One.

Both these examples are campaigns designed for the consumer, not for the industry.

The fact is, if an ad has grabbed your attention and made you feel anything then you’ll most likely remember it. It will work. See it enough and you’ll never forget it.

Which, frankly, is a lot more than the majority of ads being put out into the world are currently doing.

It’s a sea of sameness, beige mediocrity (recently coined the term ‘blandemic’). Most things don’t stand out, or even register on a subliminal level in the constant scroll. And if we’re not making even a momentary subconscious impact, are we even advertising?

Of course when we’re exposed to hundreds, if not thousands of ads every day we’re not going to remember them all. That would be fucking awful.

But when I talk about good advertising I don’t mean the kind of stunts that get talked about for a few minutes and generate a little social buzz. There’s a lot more to it than that. We’re talking about long term brand building. Burning memories into peoples minds so on the off chance, maybe, just maybe, one day, they buy you. It’s all probables and likelihoods.

Think back to your youth. You remember all the ads. And those ads interrupted your viewing pleasure, just in different channels from today. But it was ok. Because they were entertaining. They gave something to the audience outside of just selling. They gave us a feeling. Or a moment of entertainment. They used music and jingles and characters that stuck in our minds.

And although channels have evolved, people haven’t. We don’t evolve at the speed of digital. It takes the odd millenia. So there are lessons we still need to heed from the Madmen of old.

We’ve recently been advised by one social platform that “native and unbranded content performs better” on their platform so we should remove branding from work we do with creators.

Which is fine, if all you’re looking for is a large media number of hits. And completely shithouse if you’re actually looking to create any kind of brand effect.

If the audience enjoys what they’re watching but can’t commit it to memory and connect it to the brand that engaged them then it’s a complete waste of money.

More alarmingly, it’s undermining the effect advertising has on growth and the power of creativity to transform businesses. If every ad isn’t doing something to reinforce the brand codes (yes, even your most performance-based efforts) then you’ve missed out.

If you’re trying to hide the fact that your ad is an ad, then you may even be missing out anyway.

Some recent research we did with System1 for Menulog showed a correlation between people knowing it was an ad and increased happiness, telling us people don’t like being deceived.

We don’t make people laugh because it makes us feel good. We don’t shock people because it’s a thrill for us. We do it to make people feel something so we can connect a brand to that moment and be remembered.

There’s a simple truth to what we do. The role of advertising is to sell stuff. Sell stuff by building brands, persuading people to take one action over another.

The pipes are increasingly commoditised now. The smallest advertiser can now login to an ad manager account and buy the same audiences as the biggest corporate. So creativity becomes the differentiating factor in the attention arms race.

Which should be great news – because as humans creativity is now our one advantage over the machines.

But next time you’re designing a campaign or signing off on creative, ask yourself one simple question – who will care about this? If the answer’s ‘no one’, then why bother?

Read the article on Mumbrella →

All time record of tickets sales leads to 8 IAFE award wins for Royal Easter Show

1st Place Category 1A Television Commercial

1st Place Category 3 Single sided, Flat Promotional Ad

1st Place Category 9 Online Advertisements

1st Place Category 11 Out of Box Marketing / Promotion

2nd Place Category 2 Radio

2nd Place Category 12 Best Marketing Campaign

2nd Place Category 5 Promotional/Advertising Poster

3rd Place Category 8 Advertising (Outdoor)

View the project here →

Read the winners list on here →

Mumbrella Dynamic Duos: ‘the Aussie bogan to my blue-blooded Brit’


Back in 2008 I worked for an agency called TCO, one of the original content businesses in the country. It was run by a chaotic visionary which made it an incredibly challenging but also incredibly rewarding and formative period in my career.

When Tom joined the company from the UK, he was your typical, polite Englishman – he couldn’t believe how archaic Australian creative and media was and still wore jeans from the 90s. We got on immediately. We were both passionate about our work and used each other as therapists for the daily rollercoaster of life at TCO.

What we really connected over was bringing his comms planning background and my creative and production thinking together. Although we never worked on the same clients, we’d always solve briefs over lunch or after work and it genuinely felt like we were doing something different to the industry norm.

I left TCO in late 2009 to start my own business, Infinity Squared. For the next 4 years I ran and grew Infinity’s reputation for being the go-to content and branded entertainment business in Australia. We brought in a roster of world class film directors, as well as a creative partner Nick Boshier who was the brains behind some of the country’s most famous YouTube creations including Beached Az, Bondi Hipsters and Trent from Punchy.

During those years Tom and I stayed mates, having beers, exercising together and always chewing the fat about work.

In 2014 I EP’d a TV show deal with ABC to make the world’s first crowdsourced multiplatform TV show. It was ambitious and needed someone to coordinate the participation of the audience who would, in essence, dictate what each week’s episode would be. The timing for Tom was perfect.

The show was a huge success, winning an international Emmy Award but more importantly, it showed Tom and I that there was something in telling stories in a non-linear way.

So Tom joined Infinity Squared and the rest is history.

Like any relationship it takes work. It’s a bit like a marriage. There are ups and downs, there are times when you could (and do) lose your shit. But I think we’ve grown to understand each other and what drives us.

Tom loves channels and media and I love creativity. And I think that’s the secret sauce. Neither of us are as strong as a solo act.

Most Memorable Moment With Tom: Definitely winning an Emmy Award.

Best Word To Describe Him: Optimistic (eternally and unshakably).

Most Annoying Habit: Tom’s overly-considered, which is the antithesis of me. I’m impulsive and impatient as hell.

Connecting Plots Co-Founder & CCO, Dave Jansen


Dave and I met back in 2009. I’d just moved to Australia from the UK and joined The Conscience Organisation, one of Sydney’s original social and content agencies. We met at training and were asked to introduce ourselves with a fact. Dave’s opening line was less than savoury but it made me laugh. 14 years on and not much has changed. He makes me laugh a lot.

My background was in media and planning while Dave’s was in content and production. From the get-go, we had a healthy balance between planning and creativity. Dave’s approach was so refreshing from traditional ad peeps I’d worked with in the past. He was dead set on creating entertainment not ads and he didn’t care about what channel it was going in as long as it made someone laugh or cry. It was all about the ‘gooseys’. My challenge was helping him channel this in a way that would build brands and sell shit. I think it’s been the key ingredient to our success working together.

Dave’s always been the Aussie bogan to my blue-blooded Brit. He’s dick jokes, I’m dad jokes. He loves Metallica and HipHop, I love musicals and WSFM.

In 2010, Dave left TCO to start Infinity Squared and I stayed on to grow it from a 9 to 30 person agency, getting companies like Coca Cola, Westfield and Nestlé onto social.

When I eventually left in 2013, Dave and I partnered up on an influencer agency called The Creators Network, signing top beauty, food and comedy YouTubers. Dave likes to leave this part out of our story because it was a massive flop – we had some success launching Bondi Harvest but it turned out managing 19 year old YouTubers was a little soul destroying…

It did get us into business together though. The next year, Dave brought me on to help with #7 Days Later – a world first social TV show that made a weekly episode based on suggestions from an online audience. The problem was they had no idea how to find and build that audience. That’s where I came in. The show went on to win an Emmy Award and we realised this approach to connected storytelling was something brands weren’t getting from traditional agencies.

From there I joined Infinity, building it into a full service creative remit, winning businesses like Lion, SEEK and Maccas. In 2018 we divided the full service and production offering and officially launched our creative agency, Connecting Plots.

Our relationship is not without its fair share of tension. There are times where I want to kill him. But there’s also a lot of good times. We’ve created businesses and a whole lot of work we’re incredibly proud of.

Most Memorable Moment With Dave: Being on a conference call with a client and Dave having road rage not realising he wasn’t on mute…

Best Word To Describe Him: Feisty.

Most Annoying Habit: He doesn’t like being told what to do… but then does it anyway. Most of the time (annoyingly) with blistering creativity.

Connecting Plots Co-Founder & CEO, Tom Phillips

Read the article on Mumbrella →


Australian Eggs Encourages Aussies To Brighten Their Meals And Moods With New Campaign

With the goal of elevating the use of eggs within a broader range of meal occasions, the new brand platform ‘Bring the Bright’ encourages Aussie households to brighten not only their meals, but their entire family’s demeanour thanks to the flavour and rich nutrients packed inside eggs.

“We know that Aussies love eggs. They’re healthy, versatile and at times decadent. However, outside of breakfast, our consumers don’t necessarily think of eggs when it comes to snacks, lunch, and dinner. That’s what we’re looking to change.”

Australian Eggs Managing Director, Rowan McMonnies.

While eggs are a well-established ingredient in the homes of everyday Aussies, research showed that consumers in their daily lives have a pragmatic mindset and established habits when it comes to eating routines. The new creative work shows that adding an egg is the simplest way to take a meal from humble to special.

“This platform introduces a human element to eggs. Its flexibility enables us to bring it to life through a range of emotional, to more pragmatic creative that’s been tailor-made for each paid and owned channel.”

Connecting Plots Creative Partner, John Gault.

The launch campaign’s hero films, directed by Richard Vilensky and produced by Infinity Squared, capture playful and relatable family moments, from the perfect flip to dinner prep’s cheeky interruptions.

The first phase of the campaign is currently rolling out across TV, out of home, BVOD, social, digital and owned channels with additional creative iterations launching in the coming months. The campaign has been brought to life in partnership with UM and Liquid Ideas.

The launch follows the recent news that Australian Eggs had appointed Connecting Plots as its creative agency of record following a competitive pitch in May of this year.

Westinghouse Launch Major Brand Equity Play In Australia

In a bid to increase market share and future proof the brand locally, ‘Happy to Help’ works across all the brand’s sub-categories and positions Westinghouse as the quiet, reliable helping hand in Aussie homes that, when called upon, will step up and help out so you can get back to living.

“When we sat down with Connecting Plots we all agreed that the ambition was to solidify Westinghouse as an icon of Aussie homes. Aussies have an inherent affinity with Westinghouse – it’s a brand that most Aussies grew up with and this new positioning is targeted at reigniting that truth in Australian culture. Our culture rates people who quietly pitch in without complaint or drama to help out when things get beyond our control and that’s exactly what Westinghouse is all about.”

Electrolux ANZ Marketing Director, Richelle Barker.

The launch campaign’s hero film, directed by Jesse James McElroy and produced by Infinity Squared, tells the story of a dinner party gone wrong, thanks to a lively Grey Morwong fish who has other plans – with Westinghouse quietly stepping up to the plate to save the day. It’s a deliberate play by Westinghouse to step change the categories stereotypes and conventions by using humour and a story to emotionally connect with consumers who’ve been drowning in rational category messaging.

Aside from the long-term brand building elements, the launch campaign is also designed to bring more rational proof points to life at both a category level for people entering the market and at a product level for those ready to make a purchase. The platform ‘Happy to Help’ is also designed to be both a compelling value proposition for customers as well as employees.

“This platform will come to life in every brand impression Westinghouse creates. From retail to delivery and comms. For us, that’s where the real magic happens. When a brand like Westinghouse can bring their brand story to life perfectly in every channel, across paid, owned and earned, in consumer comms, internal and trade”.

Connecting Plots Co-Founder, Dave Jansen.

The brand has also developed a distinctive sonic branding device to be used across all audio and relevant channels as a refreshed brand look and feel.

“Westinghouse is one of the largest and most iconic brands in its category in Australia and in fact, one of the largest brands by volume in the Electrolux Home Products portfolio, making Australia a critical market for Westinghouse. We’re thrilled that with the launch of this new range we can offer Australians and New Zealanders uncomplicated appliances that make life easier and let them get back to the things that really matter.”

Electrolux ANZ Managing Director, Kurt Hegvold.

The campaign launched on Tuesday 5 September and will roll out across paid, owned and earned channels. The campaign has been brought to life by Connecting Plots, Infinity Squared, PHD and Humann.

Read more on Campaign Brief → 

FoodCo Appoints Connecting Plots as Creative Agency Following Competitive Pitch

The company, which owns global bakery and café brands Muffin Break and Jamaica Blue, appointed the independent creative agency in June 2023 following a competitive pitch.

As part of the remit, Connecting Plots will build better synergies between brand and retail advertising across campaign and always-on comms for both Muffin Break and Jamaica Blue brands.

“We were extremely impressed with how Connecting Plots’ thinking stretched across brand and retail in paid, owned and earned. They demonstrated they get our business and will make every brand impression in every channel more consistent and impactful.”

FoodCo General Manager of Customer & Marketing, Fatima Syed.

Connecting Plots are currently working on new creative platforms for both the Muffin Break and Jamaica Blue which will be rolling out in market over the coming months.

“FoodCo is an impressive business amassing a strong franchise model across multiple brands. Fatima has assembled a strong marketing and digital team with a clear plan for how they intend to grow their business, so it’s exciting to be able to partner with her and media agency This Is Flow in the year ahead.”

Connecting Plots Co-Founder, Tom Phillips.

How Renovating a Campaign Is Helping Difflam Take On Strepsils

Ah, the dreaded razor blade throat. We’ve all been there, and it’s definitely not ideal. Thankfully, there’s always been Difflam for soothing relief. However, when it comes to those initial tickles and discomfort, it seems like everyone’s first thought is Strepsils.

To tackle this issue, Difflam expanded their product range by introducing non-medicated lozenges and launched an advertising campaign positioning themselves as the ultimate solution for any stage of a sore throat.

Unfortunately, the campaign didn’t perform, failing to resonate with consumers in conveying the emotional benefits of using Difflam.

That’s when Connecting Plots was brought in to renovate the creative and connect the Difflam story perfectly across every channel for both brand and product specific messaging.

MHIAA Reinforce Their Air Expertise As 'Sommeli-Airs' Of The Air

In a highly competitive category that’s hard to navigate, the new campaign by Connecting Plots seeks to unlock the assurance of an expert opinion, with the MHIAA Air Experts behaving like wine sommeliers – but with air.

It’s the third iteration of ‘The Experts in Air’, a brand platform that takes a humorous and light-hearted approach to presenting MHIAA as the true experts of the air-conditioning by stating that to truly understand air, MHIAA takes air exploration to the extreme.

“We understand that most Aussie’s are only in the market for an air-conditioner a few times in their life, if ever and that the brand affinity seen in other product categories isn’t as strong. So why not have some fun in what is usually a pretty conservative category and grab the attention of immediate and future customers so they can make an informed decision when the time is right.”

MHIAA Marketing Manager, Jenny Perello.

The brand strategy continues to focus on long term growth through distinctive and consistent brand building, underpinned by MHIAA’s heritage, credibility, customer satisfaction and the fact they are the most independently awarded air-con brand in Australia; with over 14 awards from CHOICE®, Canstar Blue, Finder and Product Review. The campaign also looks to uplift short term sales with a cash bonus promotion targeting both consumers and installers, who are highly influential figures in the sales process.

“Over the past three years, we’ve built on ‘The Experts In Air’ platform with a unique brand of humour to unashamedly claim category-leadership. When in doubt, you ask an expert and with their heritage and awards, that’s exactly what MHIAA are – our job is to convey that in a fun and compelling way that helps them stand apart.”

Connecting Plots Co-Founder, Dave Jansen.

The campaign is running across TV, BVOD, YouTube, radio, social, online, POS and owned channels, working closely in collaboration with media agency Speed.

Read more on AdNews → B&T → Campaign Brief → Mumbrella →

Australian Eggs appoints Connecting Plots as creative partner following competitive pitch

The pitch process tasked the independent agency with elevating the versatility of eggs in order to encourage Australian families to increase their weekly egg consumption.

Consumer research conducted by the member owned not-for-profit company identified the need to tell an engaging and enduring story that demonstrates how to elevate every meal with an egg.

“We were really impressed with Connecting Plots’ creative approach and their ability to bring an insightful idea to life cohesively across every touchpoint”

Australian Eggs Managing Director, Rowan McMonnies.

Connecting Plots were awarded the business in late May, with a new brand platform and integrated campaign in development for release in the coming months.

Who doesn’t love eggs? It’s a real privilege to work on a product that truly touches the homes of so many families across the country,” says Connecting Plots CEO & Founding Partner, Tom Phillips. “The marketing and R&D work that the team at Australian Eggs do directly supports our Aussie eggs farmers, so it’s an important challenge to ensure our new brand platform drives a direct business impact for that farming community.

Connecting Plots Co-Founder, Tom Phillips.

The new Australian Eggs campaign will launch in August 2023.

Read more on AdNews →, Mediaweek →, Campaign Brief → and B&T →.

AdNews Better Workplaces - Connecting Plots' renovated 'marijuana den'

The office of independent creative agency Connecting Plots, according to neighbours, was once the scene of a major drug bust.

While the Plotters HQ was an unassuming industrial space in Beaconsfield, Sydney, when the agency purchased it in 2019, staff soon found out the building’s twisty history as an ex-pizza factory and ex-marijuana den.

Unlike most agencies, Connecting Plots kept the renovations “in the family” as the space was designed by the company’s three owners, Tom Phillips, Sophia Kang and Dave Jansen, with help from their partners who have a good eye for interior design.

Converted into an office within just two months, the office still shows its warehouse roots with exposed brick and a controlled colour palette of textured blacks and browns such as leather and wood.

We wanted to keep it simple but sophisticated and create a space that invited creativity and diverse thinking.
Connecting Plots Co-Founder, Tom Phillips.

Being fiercely independent Connecting Plots wanted to create a space where like-minded agencies and businesses could share the agency’s space and create a culture of collaboration.

We wanted the office to be somewhere where fellow indie agencies who are starting out or scaling their businesses could come, network, share a drink and swap insights, problems and experiences.
Connecting Plots Co-Founder, Tom Phillips.

Connecting Plots currently shares the space with its sister production company Infinity Squared as well as The Park, a UK-based experiential agency, and We Are Gather, a business that designs large scale consumer events.

Previously, the space was also shared with PR agency We Are Different when it was just three but it grew and has since moved.

The office includes just more than 40 open plan desks and approximately 35 people combined across the four businesses. With the agency currently on the hunt for another small indie agency to fill up those final few extra desks.

We only built our mezzanine last year and it’s been a game changer. We use the space for anything and everything – from escaping our desks to work in a comfy booth, having an impromptu meeting, doing training and company-wide presentations, client workshops or just as a space to hang out for a drink at the end of a long week.
Connecting Plots Co-Founder, Tom Phillips.

Read the full article on AdNews →.