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Masters of Spin - Steve Smith and Jamie Oliver

On Masters of Spin we discuss whether the Steve Smith Vodafone ad is "too soon" and has Jamie Oliver cooked up the wrong message. 

Check out the segment, transcipt below.

Monique Wright: Welcome back. Have you seen that new ad with Australian cricketer Steve Smith in it? He's made a return to the public spotlight appearing in this revealing new advertisement for telco giant Vodafone.

Basil Zempilas: Interesting timing. In the campaign, Smith opens up about the ball tampering scandal and the emotional toil of his abandonment and he admits he was in a dark place.

Speaker 3: I've certainly had some difficult days, but it's okay to be vulnerable. Everyone makes mistakes. It's about the way you respond to it, that's really important. I want to come back, better than I was.

Basil Zempilas: All right, so that's part of the ad. There's some good messages there. There's some questionable elements to it. Our masters of spin are here, advertising experts Matthew Bywater and Jane Caro. A lot of people divided over this, I think you guys are even divided over this. We should point out Steve Smith did say it was meant to have been released after yesterday's news conference where he addressed mental health issues. Let's deal with the ad, Matthew, was he right to do the ad in the first place? 

Matthew Bywater: I like the ad. I think the timing, yeah, maybe. Jane and I have been discussing whether he should take payment for it or donate the payment, that's one thing. I like how Steve Smith and his team have handled this whole process. They did wrong, and immediately they got caught out, they didn't face up. But when they did get caught, they just said we were wrong. They're taking the harshest spin in world cricket ever. And they said, "We did wrong. I'm really, really sorry. I screwed up." And this is part of the process. 

Basil Zempilas: The only thing I'd say about that is yesterday in the news conference, although yes he did face up, he did make it pretty clear. Look, I wasn't the instigator. Now, we didn't really know that before, but yesterday made it very clear. Look, I condoned it by not saying don't do it. But it wasn't my idea. I didn't start it. I didn't get the SandPaper out. I didn't say let's do this guys.

Jane Caro: I feel sorry for Steve Smith. I think he's had a tough time. But I also think he needs to think about whose advice he is taking. Because actually, I don't think the ad itself, if it was for a mental health charity, or it was for mental health in general, I think we would have thought he was a hero. Unfortunately, the ad's fine right up until it gets to the great big Vodafone, and then it just goes baba. I mean, I don't know whether Steve Smith is being paid for this ad, whether he's donated the money he got for it, or part of it-

Monique Wright: I think he's saying that he's donating at least part of it.

Jane Caro: Well, good-

Matthew Bywater: Let's not forget the work with Gotcha 4 life and his charity. He's doing a lot of work in this space with schools. That's what you saw in the ad, Steve Smith is working with the schools trying to teach kids, "Hey, you can do wrong, but when you make mistakes, there is a way out of this." 

Basil Zempilas: And that part of it is a great message, we get that. 

Jane Caro: But the problem is that it seems as being done for commercial enterprise, for profit. It's a cynical way of getting people to use Vodafone, that's the problem.

Monique Wright: We want to get to our next topic, but just very quickly what about for Vodafone? Is this a good branding for them?

Jane Caro: No. I think it's actually bad for them for the same reason.

Matthew Bywater: I think they get away with it. If they'll toss it? No, because Vodafone is a challenger brain, quite low down on the totem pole in the train of telecommunications. I think they get away with it.

Jane Caro: You're nicer than me, I don't. 

Basil Zempilas: One more thing very, very briefly, it said at the top that he thought it was supposed to be released after yesterday's news conference. I'm not buying that. If you're Steve Smith, and you've been involved in the biggest scandal in Australian sport, and you've done an ad for Vodafone, you got to know when the ad is coming out you, aren't you?

Matthew Bywater: You're saying someone tampered with the release?

Jane Caro: Maybe.

Basil Zempilas: Maybe.

Monique Wright: Now, TV-

Jane Caro: I don't think it matters the time.

Monique Wright: Yeah, okay. TV chef Jamie Oliver has found himself in hot water after agreeing to an 8.8 million dollar deal with oil giant Shell. Now this is interesting Matthew, because he has been a campaigner for environmental issues and has been really held up as a hero for doing it and now this collaboration with Shell to put his food in their service stations, it's a bit of an odd one.

Matthew Bywater: Yeah, it's not a great look considering what he's campaigned on. And it's going to be really interesting because right now we're seeing a lot of press from a lot of same types of people that are active scrutiny, a lot of the activists type news media. What makes you see his actual base, the people that buy his food, buy his books, his DVDs, watch his shows, will that affect him? Because these are the same people who will drive in the Shell today and they take a gas.

Basil Zempilas: So bad for his brand maybe Jamie, but very good for his bank account. 

Jane Caro: Very good for his bank account.

Monique Wright: And he needs it, we know that because he's had to sink a whole lot of money, 23 million or something into his Jamie's Italian restaurant. 

Jane Caro: Yeah.

Matthew Bywater: He's still got a slight quarter of a billion dollars left over.

Jane Caro: Yeah, I don't think he's really on these payments. Look, I think it's really bad for his brand in the long run unless he is working with Shell to get Shell to realize that Shell is not a petrol company and never has been. It's an energy company. Companies need to know what business they are in. Kodak died because it thought it was in the business of making film. No, it was memories. Fossil fuel companies can become energy companies, power companies. If he's helping them do that, it's a good thing. He's not helping them do that, bad thing

Basil Zempilas: Good check guys, two really good topics.

Monique Wright: Thank you both, very much.

Basil Zempilas: Merry Christmas to you both.


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