5 iconic Aussie ads. They were so hot… like a sunrise.


99.99999% of the TV ads in our orbit aren’t pieces of cinematic brilliance that you’ll remember for a lifetime.

But once every few years, an ad makes us smile. A line comes along that we can’t stop saying, a character makes us fall a little bit in love and we forget that we’re watching an ad. Sometimes, unexpected phrases jump from advertising into the vernacular and become a sort of communal in-joke or short-hand. Occasionally, lines or characters from advertising can even embed themselves into our real life conversations.

This year it wasn’t one person but two – Rhonda and Ketut, whose breathless Balinese romance had us spellbound.

I’ve taken to greeting my husband by saying, ‘You look so hot today, like a sunrise.’

AAMI not only saves us money on car insurance, it might also save my marriage.

Tes, Rhonda and Ketut have charmed their way into our conciousness, making the AAMI campaign one of this year’s marketing success stories reports advertising website Mumbrella:


Richard Riboni, executive marketing manager at AAMI, said that a Facebook page devoted to the sexual tension between Rhonda and Ketut was the moment he realised that the campaign had struck a nerve with the Australian public.

“Seeing people wearing Rhonda t-shirts in Bali was exciting, but watching that Facebook page take off was the point where we realised that the campaign was bigger than we originally thought – that it had entered the Australian psyche,” he told Mumbrella.

The Facebook page now has more than 115,000 ‘likes’.

“Rhonda is an everyday knock-about Aussie girl. She’s the kind of character people can relate to,” said Riboni.

I wonder how Rhonda and Ketut’s romance was sold to the client. On paper, that sunrise business would have seemed stupid. It takes insightful creative, a brave client, subtle direction and a great performance to take a words from a script into the vernacular, but AAMI did it, and on behalf of bored TV viewers everywhere, I thank them.

Rhonda is a member of a select club – stars of ads we’ve loved.

There was also the luckless Jan, whose boss was NOT HAPPY.

There was the boy and his Dad who were totally across the Chinese rabbit plague.

Thanks to that Scottish bloke, we can all spell Goggomobile. And we know it’s not the Dart.

The fullness of time has proven that roast lamb at Mum’s was, in fact, a better choice than a date with Tom Cruise. Things could have ended very badly for that nice Naomi Watts.

You never know until shoot day, and sometimes afterwards, if a line or a character will take off. Advertising legend has it the line ‘Not happy Jan’ happened at the end of the shoot, when the director let the actors play. Sometimes it’s impossible to write what people really do – so you just have to let them do it. Viewers suffer the consequences if it doesn’t work.

Going against the grain is what makes an ad stand out from the crown and lodge in our hearts. It’s choosing actors who aren’t cutouts, but like real people. As the late, great ad man Paul Arden said, “If you’re casting a brain surgeon, choose a greengrocer. Because life’s like that.”

What ads do you love? What makes them more than ads?



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