Outback ad campaign

Outback adverts starring one Jemaine Clement in early 2006!

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So its not technically Conchords related, but it was too good to not post. I awoke one morning in January to a fair number of emails about a sighting or two of Jemaine in a TV ad that aired during the Superbowl (American Football - Its a sport in the US apparently) For Outback Steakhouse. And lo, this turned out to be true. Not only has Jemaine turned into an Aussie, he turned into a mini mullet wearing one! The horror.

The TV viewing United States will think thats how Australians talk! Much amused. (Anyone wanting to brush up on their Aussie speak can go here). However, I have been reliably informed the Aussies are not fooled one bit and reckon he sounds like a Kiwi. Funny that. (In the interest of science I carried out an indepth survey to prove this. I asked my partner, who happens to be an Aussie to watch the ad and tell me what he thought. His words 'He sounds like a Kiwi still') Ooops.

Download the Outback adverts - Outback Boomerang, Outback Semiveg and Outback Shrimp.

Outback Counts On Humorist In New Ads

Published: Mar 16, 2006 by Michael Sasso

If anything can be said about Outback Steakhouse's new TV pitchman, it's this: Crocodile Dundee he isn't.

Unlike other Australian icons, the scatterbrained character in Outback's new commercials doesn't "go walkabout" through the bush. Neither does he pick up deadly snakes barehanded, À la Steve Irwin of television's "The Crocodile Hunter."

Instead, actor Jermaine Clement portrays more of a city-dwelling slacker with a penchant for saying and doing weird things. For example, in one new ad he asks a waitress for birthday candles on his steak. Outback Steakhouse is betting that Clement's goofy charm can help turn around sagging sales at its flagship Outback Steakhouse-branded restaurants. It has created at least five commercials featuring him.

In real life, Clement is part of a two-person musical-comedy act from New Zealand called Flight of the Conchords. The duo has a following in New Zealand and the United Kingdom but is relatively unknown in the United States, according to Sherry de Andres, a UK resident who operates a Flight of the Conchords fan Web site at

Like him or hate him, Clement could be the face of Outback Steakhouse for a while.

"We really feel like we could use him to deliver just about any message we'd like to deliver," Ben Novello, president of the Outback Steakhouse brand, said during a conference with Wall Street analysts last month.
The Aflac Duck

The new Outback commercials were created by New York ad agency The Kaplan Thaler Group, which won a contract to develop Outback ads last fall. Among Kaplan Thaler's best-known ads are its Aflac insurance duck commercials, according to Kaplan Thaler's Web site. Outback previously had used an ad agency based in Los Angeles called davidandgoliath.

This week, Outback spokeswoman Stephanie Amberg said it was too soon to see the results of the new ads.

However, davidandgoliath spokesman Anthony Vagnoni said the TV spots are a bit of a change for Outback because they feature a single character in a series of commercials. When davidandgoliath made Outback's commercials, they used a variety of characters in humorous situations.

For example, one davidandgoliath-created ad features sports commentator John Madden. During the ad, a football player is injured and passes out on the field but comes to when someone waves an Outback Bloomin' Onion appetizer under his nose, Vagnoni said.

The new ads use humor, too, but in a different way, Outback's Novello told stock analysts last month. It takes a few viewings "to get" the commercials, but they have an "Aussie-ness" to them that people can relate to, Novello said.

In one of the new commercials, a spot called "Victoria's 'Crowned' Filet," Clement tries to rip a boomerang off the wall of an Outback restaurant.

"Think about this," Clement says in the commercial. "Outback has boomerangs. When you throw boomerangs, they come back. Both times I was thrown out of Outback, I came back."

In another commercial, called "Made from Scratch," Clement has the following interchange with an Outback waitress:

Waitress: "Have you decided?"

Clement: "Can I get birthday candles on my steak?"

"Oh, is it your birthday?"

"No, I just like candles."

The new commercials are posted on Outback's Web site, at

Sales at Outback restaurants open for at least 18 months, termed comparable store sales, have dropped in every month since May except January.

Meanwhile, sales have surged at some of Outback Steakhouse's other brands, such as Carrabba's Italian Grill and Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar.

Will the new commercials catch on with the public?

Barbara Lippert, an advertising critic for industry trade journal Adweek, said Clement has some of the same slacker charm as the "Dell dude," the young Dell Inc. pitchman who was known for his catchphrase "Dude, you're getting a Dell."

Lippert said some people will find Clement annoying, rather than endearing. However, he at least is more memorable than Outback's previous commercials and could prove to be an effective linchpin for the Outback brand, Lippert said.

In a research report last month, Piper Jaffray & Co. stock analyst Peter Oakes said the new Outback ads grew on him over time.

"Our initial impression is that the ads fail to motivate the consumer to frequent Outback at the expense of the competition, but after a few viewings their message proved a bit more engaging," Oakes told investors in his report.

The Tribune was unable to reach Clement for comment. However, Lippert said this may be an opportunity for him to become known in the United States.
HBO Appearance

Clement's band may have gotten its biggest boost last fall, when Clement and band partner Bret McKenzie appeared on HBO's comedy series "One Night Stand." Flight of the Conchords is known for its oddball song lyrics, such as in the parody rap song "Hiphopapotamus vs. Rhymenocerous." To a beat of thumping sounds, Clement rhymes about drinking tea with his grandmother, among other things.

"There ain't no party like my Nanna's tea party!" he chants.

Lippert, the Adweek critic, said of Clement's Outback commercials: "This is fantastic for him. ... A lot of people actually start in commercials."

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