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Ask a friend: what’s up with this press ad?


Ask a friend: what’s up with this press ad?


Simon Dell found a curious piece of advertising on page 12 of the Courier Mail this morning and wonders if word of mouth can ever breed with paid media. 

Word-of-mouth marketing is, as every marketer everywhere in the world knows, the best form of marketing. If a friend, a work colleague, a stranger in the street, tells you something is good, you’re going to listen to them. Nielsen pumps out a report every year that says that 92% of us trust the recommendation from someone we know. Which seems legit.

And that’s become more and more important in the past few years with the growth of social media.  That recommendation has become so much more powerful with people sharing good and bad experiences with banks, builders and brands, not just across their morning coffee, but all over their social channels. Sometimes you’re up to your eyeballs in people complaining about cafes telling mums they can’t breastfeed, or your friends informing you that you should tune in to the latest Netflix documentary.

Brands have become more and more astute to this, trying to engage the public through those social channels, encouraging them to discuss and digest their business in the hope of growing that word of mouth recommendation and finding influencers to endorse their product online. And attempts at this manipulation have become more and more sophisticated as global brands throw resources and budgets at it, and tap into trying to get Gold Coast bikini models to fawn over the freebies they send them.

Which made me ask the question this morning over my Friday morning bacon sandwich: what on God’s green Earth is this? A quarter-page advert telling me to go and ask my friends whether they’ve watched a film. And reassuring me that not only will they tell me it’s bloody awesome, but everyone got all clappy at the end of it. And not just clappy, but ‘spontaneously’ clappy at the screen. Not the movie, the screen.

Sully ad in Courier Mail 960w

What’s next? A TVC telling me to ask a work colleague if I can get some feedback on their new Hyundai? A billboard suggesting I sit and watch my neighbour eating their Lite’n’Easy?

Word of mouth is unprompted and spontaneous. That’s the point of it. That’s why it’s so valuable.

So… what…the… f?


Editor’s note: We’ve reached out to Roadshow, its media agency and News Corp to see if they can shed any light.

Simon Dell

Simon is a former full-service agency managing director that ran for seven years and delivered for clients across Australia. He now runs his own digital consultancy SimonDell.com working with Australian businesses helping with online communication and creative strategies. Find Simon on Twitter at @IAmSimonDell, on LinkedIn at IAmSimonDell and Facebook at SwitchYourBusiness.

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