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Does Anyone Care About the Koalas Anymore?


I think the first time I said this in a creative meeting it was more of a statement than a question. I believe it was “nobody cares about the F@#$ing koalas anymore.” Let me explain.

The wildfires that wreaked havoc in Australia between September of 2019 and March of 2020 reportedly affected nearly 3 billion animals and, of course, the lovable koala was among them. At least five times a day, I saw reports of the koalas being rescued peppered throughout various news stations and my social feeds.

But as everything does, this story soon lost favor amongst the 24-hour news monsters and they moved on to something else like a movie star who had said the wrong thing, or maybe a pandemic or something.

Just to be clear, I have nothing against koalas and if I had to pick my top ten favorite animals they may very well be on the list. So do not “cancel” me as a koala-hating individual please. The point I was trying to make was not about the extremely distracted and sensationalist media, but more about our need as marketers to understand the world around us and how people are so extremely fickle in their focus nowadays.

If I remember correctly, we were in a deep discussion regarding a client’s media strategy. As usual, the meeting was all over the place discussing paid media, social strategies, digital platforms and appropriate messaging. A younger participant of our team was presenting thoughts and ideas of which were tied to some very recent trends in the media. All good ideas and great for furthering the ideation process – however this particular campaign would not be starting for several months from now. So I patiently listened and waited for this extremely passionate presentation to come to a close and as the room quieted and all eyes turned to me anxiously waiting to hear my opinions on the concepts, I looked at this person and simply stated my previous mentioned koala comment. This person was definitely taken off guard and obviously confused as was the rest of the team in the room at that time.


I proceeded to explain my meaning. In our industry right now, things change fast. As we all know, consumers are easily and rapidly distracted by the countless forms of communication in their lives. Not only do we have to make sure that our advertising is in one or more of these communications, but we also have to make sure we don’t attach our messaging to outdated trends.

The fact that the entire room had no idea what I was even talking about when I mentioned the koalas proved my point. Merely weeks before this meeting, they had probably watched several videos showing these distressed koalas in their feed, maybe shed a tear or even sent the koala foundation some money. But in this meeting, they had forgot all about those koalas. I’m pretty sure everyone was more focused on what the President had tweeted that day.

It’s really tough to toe the line, to create something that resonates just as well today as it will tomorrow and the day after that and even years later. When Dove launched its Real Beauty campaign nearly 15 years ago, the brand found rare success adapting a contemporary issue. Conversely, Pepsi took a ton of flack when they tried to tie their soda in with civil unrest. Let’s just say there are a lot more bad examples than good.

For all of those folks out there that think this is easy, I challenge you to create something timeless and not just timely – something with staying power no matter the news cycle.

About The Author

Travis arrived at ABC back in 1995, when photography was his main creative outlet. That passion evolved over the next decade as Travis began thinking beyond imagery and pitching his broader ideas and strategies to clients. It was the birth of the idea-based marketing philosophy: Getting to know the client inside out, learning about the successes and failures, then spinning that into an idea that could build a better outcome. That’s the cornerstone he’s built his creative-first agency on since buying the place in 2005. ABC has grown exponentially since then both in terms of people and clients. Local, regional, national, banking, destinations, nonprofits: Travis has greatly expanded services over the years to accommodate them all. He’s also assembled a talented team. Just like them, he’s greeted each morning by a simple reminder etched on the wall: “Create Cool Sh!t Today!” He’s proud to run the kind of agency that does.