VB’s jab ad shows nostalgia is the way ahead

VB vaccine ad

A screenshot from the VB ad. Source: YouTube

It’s been a big month or so for iconic Aussie brands getting mixed up in public health messaging. Not something I had on my 2021 bingo card, but here we are. And not a moment too soon.

As I noted to SmartCompany a week or so ago, Qantas seemed positively progressive when it launched its ‘Fly Away’ commercial in August. Qantas was leaning on remembrance of things past to remind us what we’re all missing. And offering vaccination as a way back to Disneyland. This is in stark contrast with earlier government messaging that was based on fear. The Qantas spot showed us how powerful positivity can be.

This week saw the release of VB’s ‘As a matter of fact, get the jab’ ad via Clemenger BBDO. It’s partly an exercise in the power of mining through the footage library at the brewery, and partly proof of the power of nostalgia.

And in my opinion, it’s just about the most powerful piece of vaccination communication we’ve seen.

VB’s marketing for the past decade has been reliant on this nostalgia, reviving John Meillon’s voice over, playing that iconic music on repeat, moustaches galore.

When I was at Clemenger a few years back, one of my jobs was running the creative on the VB Facebook page. Nostalgia was a rich, rich vein to mine for engagement. We could ask people if they preferred Bon Scott or Brian Johnson as AC/DC frontman and get a few thousand likes, comments and shares. In my clumsy hands, nostalgia was a bit of a cynical exercise. But the vaccination spot that came out this week harnesses nostalgia for something more powerful.

The music, the moustaches, the blokes rowing and bowling and building and mowing are all signifiers of masculinity from a time gone by. There’s a whole other article (or dozen) about the negative aspects of this masculinity, but for 30 seconds, it acts as a reminder of what we once were, and what we can get back to.

And dig into that outdated view of masculinity and at its core, it’s about duty and mateship and togetherness. None of which is possible without vaccinating our way out of our current mess. What else would a decent Aussie bloke do?

That’s who this VB ad speaks to most powerfully. More powerfully than a band-aid on an arm, or putting the word JAB on things. I like that NAB and the TAB have taken a stand, but the word on its own isn’t as powerful as a bunch of men with moustaches reminding us of why we need the jab.

Ben Birchall is director of brand voice at SouthSouthWest. This article was first published on LinkedIn

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