Matthew Miller
Jul 7, 2015

EnergyAustralia enters the uncanny valley of the owls

AUSTRALIA - Energy provider EnergyAustralia has launched a rebranding campaign to underscore the wisdom of calling on the company for services and assistance.

Client: EnergyAustralia

Agency: Leo Burnett

Market: Australia

Name of campaign: 'A wise call'

Campaign scope: TV, press (see below), digital and OOH

Press release quote:

Michelle Monaghan, general manager, sales and marketing, EnergyAustralia:

The energy industry is complex and it’s often difficult for customers to navigate a way through to get the products and services they need. So, we wanted to create a campaign based on the idea that, with one ‘wise call’, customers could have their energy needs met simply, fairly and effectively every time. 

Scott Huebscher, creative director, Leo Burnett:

It took several long months to train the owls to talk, but it was worth it. I call the big one Bitey.

Campaign Asia Pacific's comments:

We get the concept: Owls are wise. Fine.

However, the video ads fall prey to an uncanny valley effect that distracts from the message. The owls look too real to be cute, but not real enough to be really believable (well, as believable as talking owls wearing headsets could be). Therefore they have a really strange vibe, and we end up thinking more about how they were created than anything they may be saying.

Judging by the Huebscher quote above, the agency seems well aware of this. So perhaps the owls are deliberately offputting because that's sure to get more attention? We might be persuaded to buy that argument. But we really can't stomach the TVC, which muddles the whole message with the bizarre reaction of the third co-worker. We're guessing he's envious because 'his' owl isn't as cool as those of his colleagues. But why would different customers get a different level of owl? Aren't all of the company's reps equally wise and capable? We may be missing something. In any case it seems like a needless digression. And not funny. 

On the other hand, we enjoyed this online spot, because it has fun with the owl's ability to turn its head nearly 360 degrees and because that contributes to the spot's message.



Client: Energyaustralia
Director Of Retail: Adrian Merrick
General Manager Retail Strategy & Energy Services: Michelle Monaghan
Senior Marketing Manager: Jodie Rochetich
Senior Marketing Manager: Aysha Cincotta

Agency: Leo Burnett
Chief Creative Officer: Andy Dilallo
Executive Creative Directors: Grant Mcaloon & Vince Lagana
Creative Director / Writer: Scott Huebscher
Senior Art Director: Nils Eberhardt
Senior Producer: Rachel Devine
Group Business Director: Libby Weston-Webb
Business Manager: Rachel Dougan
Planning Director: Thomas Miles

Director: Ulf Johansson
DOP: Andrzej Sekula
Production Producer: Philippa Smith
Production Company: Smith & Jones
Grade: Ben Eagleton
Editor: Stuart Morley
Post House: Altvfx Sydney
Post Producer: Dawn Walker
Vfx Supervisor: Jay Hawkins
Flame Artist: Heather Galvin
Lead Compositor: Murray Smallwood
GC Artist: Will Preston

Photographer: David Stewart
Agent: Siobhan Squire
Production Company: Producer Steph Clair
Agency Executive Producer: Adrian Jung
Post Production: Electric Art


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