The sensation known as Rhonda & Ketut may seem a bit inexplicable to those outside Australia.
Rhonda, an Aussie car-insurance customer, and Ketut, the cocktail waiter she meets on holiday in Bali, featured in a series of TVCs promoting AAMI's safe-driver discounts as well as the company’s app that helps with claim filing (see right for links to the whole series and above for the finale). Ketut didn't show up until the third of the campaign's six installments, and the pair's screen time together added up to only a couple of minutes at the most.
Yet their romance blossomed into a real thing in Australia. Catchphrases including 'Kiss me, Ketut' and 'Hot like a sunrise' became memes, and the characters appeared in multiple political cartoons. A Facebook page devoted to the 'sexual tension' between them attracted more than 100,000 likes. Ketut got a spread in People magazine's sexiest-people feature. And T-shirts featuring the catchphrases became a prominent tourist item on sale in Bali.
From a marketing viewpoint, the brand and agency knew a good thing when they saw it, and moved to take full advantage. Specifically, they extended the love story with two additional installments and a consumer-involvement element.
Thus, in August 2012, Rhonda attended her high school reunion, where an old flame entered the picture and Ketut arrived late—after Rhonda departed. This dramatic cliffhanger led to a social-media campaign asking the public to vote for how the story should end. The inevitable happy ending (the video above) debuted in January this year.
Even Matthew Rose, the Ogilvy group account director for AAMI, struggles somewhat to explain the campaign's success. "It just sort of captured the imagination, captured something in Australians," he told Campaign Asia-Pacific. "It was probably grounded in the fact that people could relate to it. It was just one of those things. It has some charm to it, and I think that's what engaged Australians."
Overhearing people quoting the ads in public was a heady experience for the team, Rose said. "You can never plan that, and if you had the magic spell for things to enter the vernacular, we'd all be millionaires," he added. "But we're very happy and we're proud that it delivered great results for the client."
- AAMI charted a 1,782 per cent increase in downloads of the claim-assist app featured in one of the spots.
- The overall campaign generated an estimated $1.5 million in free PR and earned-media coverage.
- People mentioned the campaign in more than 1.3 million newsfeed items
- The campaign achieved several above-the-norm results in Ipsos metrics: 78 per cent total campaign recognition, 67 per cent TVC recognition, 17 per cent digital recognition and a 53 per cent "likely to consider" score among people exposed to the campaign.
- 72 per cent of people voted the campaign as 'most recognised' in the 2013 Ipsos ASI Advertising Awards.
- More than 100,000 people engaged with the brand to help resolve the love triangle. Of those, 88,000 voted for 'Team Ketut' via the campaign's microsite. ('Trent Toogood' never had a chance.)
- An early reveal of the final ad on morning TV generated more than 3,660 social-media conversations.
Even though the final ad debuted in January, the campaign still has cultural relevance. Just today, AAMI and an agency called Switch Digital launched an eBay auction that lets the series’ fans "say goodbye to the popular couple, and support a worthy cause in the process". The charity auction puts Rhonda's "brake-foot bling"—a high-heeled shoe and an ankle bracelet that feature in the concluding commercial—up for bids, with radio personalities Hamish and Andy supporting the effort. Proceeds of the sale, running for the next 10 days, go to a charity called Beyond Blue.
With that, has the public seen the last of the lovers? For Ogilvy's part, Rose would not absolutely rule out a return, but said it seemed unlikely as the brand and agency were happy to have wrapped up the story in a satisfying way.