Fosters Revisits ‘How to Speak Australian’ Campaign

Foster’s returned to TV this week after a three-year hiatus with a remake of its classic “How to speak Australian” campaign.

Created by Digitas in Chicago, the new 15-second commercials, like the original well-remembered ads, present humorously Australian definitions of various words. Each spot opens with a neon sign shaped like the continent and ends with the music of a didgeridoo and the “Australian for beer” tag over a visual of a hand slamming down the brand’s frosted oversized can.

In one spot, a man in the outback gives incomprehensible driving directions as a voiceover explains the concept of GPS. In another ad defining the country’s take on “Bailout,” a man orders a beer at a bar without the money to pay for it, but the bartender gives it to him on the house.

“We’re returning to TV largely because we want to reconnect with our target consumer and motivate the trade to activate the brand,” said Doug Kooyman, Foster’s brand director at MillerCoors in Milwaukee. “We’ve tried other tactics in the past, primarily point of sale and some online activity, but we have found that this vehicle, these 15-second spots, resonate with our consumers.”

The campaign targets 25-34-year-old males, said Kooyman, but should also appeal to older consumers who remember the brand from the 1980s and ’90s.

Foster’s introduced “How to speak Australian” in a 1984 campaign from Agnotti, Thomas, Hedge, and continued running advertising with variations on that theme for more than a decade. In 2006, Foster’s shifted to a Web-only strategy with a campaign from Ogilvy & Mather that invited consumers to “Crack open a friendly.” Most recently, the brand had been advertised with an online and print campaign from StrawberryFrog tagged, “Be enormous.”

However, despite the brand’s attempts to offer consumers a different perspective on the Australian beer, people still associate it with the “How to speak Australian” slogan, said Kooyman. A new Web site carrying the revived theme will debut in a few weeks, he added.

“The first thing we’re trying to accomplish is to update and reinvigorate an iconic TV campaign. ‘How to speak Australian’ owns a place in the cultural vernacular and we want to reclaim that,” said David Mitchell, svp, executive creative director at Digitas, Chicago. The shop late last year added Icehouse, Mickey’s and Foster’s to its existing MillerCoors business, which also includes serving as lead digital shop on Miller Lite and Miller Genuine Draft.

“We’ve been off the air for five years,” Mitchell added. “This campaign was so simple and forceful in establishing the brand. It’s a way to really quickly establish that the brand is here and in the game.”

The campaign is the Chicago’s agency first foray into TV production. Digitas produced 13 Foster’s commercials directed by Clay Weiner of Biscuit Filmworks. Foster’s said it plans to air some this year and some next.

Foster’s spent $2.4 million in measured media in 2008 and $300,000 through June 2009, per Nielsen.

The campaign, which is scheduled to run nationally through October, will be supported with increased ad spending, said Kooyman. Spots will run on Web venues such as Hulu and ABC’s site for Lost.

MC Media in Chicago handles planning and buying.

Nielsen Business Media