Is Sam Kekovich a Marketing Genius?

by Robert Coorey on January 31, 2013

in Industry News

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Sam Kekovich has courted controversy throughout his career as an Aussie Rules player and then as a media personality but his notoriety and ability to poke fun at himself has been used to the advantage of the Australian lamb industry. With lamb sales lagging, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) were in need of inspiration and found it with Kekovich. Together, MLA and the tough, rugged Kekovich created a marketing campaign masterpiece which helped lamb sales in Australia grow by approximately 31.7% year-on-year in 2012 according to Nielsen Homescan.

With this success under their belt, MLA called upon Kekovich once more to create an offline and online advertising campaign that appealed to the Australian sense of humour while also tapping into our national pride. In 2013, they have again targeted the most celebrated day in the calendar, Australia Day.

It all started with “Lambnesia”

A brilliant ‘Lambnesia’ campaign combined humour with nationalism and began innocuously with Kekovich apparently getting struck with a cricket ball while filming a TV show on Channel Ten. We were led to believe that it was a genuine accident but it transpires that it was the start of Lambnesia. This initial commercial on YouTube received an incredible 300,000 views in just 3 days:

The next step was to use social media to further promote the lamb cause and Kekovich began posting a series of ‘unAustralian’ comments on his Facebook and Twitter pages. In one of his comments, Kekovich extolled the virtues of tofu and admitted choosing it over lamb. Thousands of people began leaving comments as they were perplexed by his behaviour and completely unaware of the spoof.

The coup de grace was the hilarious Lambnesia commercial where Kekovich is shown sitting down with a confused look on his face while facing a battle to regain his Australian identity.

The advert features him in a variety of ‘unAustralian’ guises before viewers are encouraged to take the National Lambnesia Test which tells them how Australian they are and shows them how much lamb they need to eat to ‘cure’ themselves of Lambnesia.

24/7 Coverage

If it seems as if Kekovich is everywhere at the moment, that’s because he is! The campaign to target increase lamb consumption on Australia Day 2013 began months ago with Kekovich teaming up with McDonalds, Coles and Woolworths to promote the cause.

His work with Coles includes a short, snappy advert featuring lamb burgers with Chef Curtis Stone and also includes a competition where the winner gets to spend Australia Day having an epic BBQ with Kekovich. He appears in a similar campaign for Woolworth’s on Facebook where the winner gets a BBQ worth $8,000. He even appears as a drive-thru customer in a MacDonalds advert promoting their new lamb burger.

But where does Sam’s loyalties lie? Does he shop at Woolworths or Coles? I’ve never seen one person be a brand ambassador for two competitors at the same time. I have to hand it to him….

The Big Finale

All of the above is leading up to the main event which is of course Australia Day on 26 January. Channel Ten’s Australia Day Special for 2013 has been described as ‘an hour long advert for lamb’ and will reach millions of viewers. The entire campaign has been funded by MLA and is estimated to cost $2 million. If this sounds like a lot of money, bear in mind that the MLA hit the jackpot last year thanks to Kekovich’s ‘Barbie Girl’ spoof (featured after his annual Address to the Nation) which was an Internet sensation as it went viral and provided an estimated $8 million worth of free advertising.


Clearly, the MLA could afford to pull out all the stops on the back of this success.

So what have we learned about marketing through Sam Kekovich’s lamb campaign? It is not enough to focus solely on online or offline advertising. You need to combine the two and work tirelessly to get your brand out there. Getting paid by two competitors at the same time is a pretty good achievement as well.  As the ‘Barbie Girl’ spoof proved, even the most unlikely ideas can become resounding hits and as MLA’s increased budget and the massive rise in lamb sales prove, success breeds success.

And the winner is….Sam Kekovich!

P.S. As I was finishing up this article, I spoke with my colleague Roberto and he said that he brought lamb on the weekend because it was half price, not because he’s seen any of the advertising that’s been going on.  Interesting! Is the huge spike in lamb sales because of Sam Kekovich’s marketing genius, or simply that Aussies like to eat cheap meat?  What are your thoughts?

Acknowledgements: BMF Australia / Advertising Agency for MLA

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  • jon

    I like lamb and like many Aussies I like a bargain. I watched the videos and they do nothing for me – they seem to be aimed at the lowest common denominator but maybe that is the target market is. Pretty silly really and I preferred the one with the teacher saying it is brain food that ran a few years back

  • Kevin Rack

    Awesome stuff, every one was talking about it so success.
    How about Dick?

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