By Patrick Avenell

MELBOURNE, VIC & SYDNEY, NSW: Australian TV viewers were guessing whose mum had a Whirlpool this weekend, as a new batch of the iconic commercials premiered on Channel Nine. Dame Edna might not be starring, but the new incarnation does feature three local celebrities.

The move back to the “Guess Whose Mum’s Got A Whirpool?” branding was first launched last year in a print campaign. The success of these ads prompted Whirlpool’s marketing team to adapt the concept from print to television. Whirlpool general manager – marketing, David Graham, told that whilst the medium is different, the overall concept has been retained.

“We’ve taken the print campaign, which had Bert Newton, Molly Meldrum and Dave Hughes, and we’ve rolled that into a TVC campaign,” he said. “It has the same three people and the same creative look: dressed up as their mums, similar costumes and kitchens that they were in previously, very similar feel – basically the print campaign brought to life in many respects.”

This campaign has been timed to coincide with the traditional laundry and refrigeration seasons. These are two of the categories being promoted by Newton, Meldrum and Hughes, with the commercials also serving a branding purpose. Graham said that this was about promoting both Whirlpool as a whitegoods solution and the whitegoods category itself.

“We believe now we’ve got a great program put together: a combination of consumer promotions, TVCs [and] search engine marketing. We’re certainly driving the category and creating not only brand awareness but also category awareness for our retailers.”

And it’s a big campaign, with Graham saying it’s $2 million plus. What’s more, it’s a prime time campaign, meaning that over the course of the commercials’ run, most Australians will be exposed to Whirlpool’s message. Some of the shows Graham has booked time on include Two and a Half Men, Rescue: Special Ops, Cold Case, Today, 20 to 1 and Australia’s Perfect Couple.

Considering this is an expansive marketing initiative, and Australia’s supposed to be in a recession, we asked Graham whether why our economy has been mostly oblivious to the Global Financial Crisis.

“It’s a series of things – there’s no silver bullet,” he said. “There’s no denying that our interest rates coming down have helped, the Government’s stimulus packages have helped, as well as the first homeowners grant. Those programs have kept the industry moving along.”