BHP – Think Big – A human centred review

Dave Yeates

You know that moment you’re at a dinner with long-time friends or family, and one of them say or does something completely unexpected?

Laying aside a woeful digital execution and monolithic new logo… that’s what happened when I noticed the new brand ad for BHP Billiton (ahem, BHP).

“Think big” is the promise that accompanies an idea so vague it’s hard to understand why they’re running the campaign at all. Sure it’s a pretty piece of film, but I struggle – even as a brand guy –- to rationalise the intent. So I looked it up:

We fundamentally believe that as society changes it is up to us to make the case – more confidently and effectively – for the positive role that well-run and responsible companies play in society.
Geoff Healy | Chief External Affairs Officer

So, now that we’ve established that it’s up to BHP to make a case for well-run companies… I’m struggling to understand why are we thinking big? As the softly spoken braggadocio proclaims BHP “…the big Australian” with that gruff male tone that makes me want to buy an iced coffee, we’re informed of the company’s successes and left with the challenge that would no doubt seed in the hearts and minds of big thinkers out there. “Imagine what we could all achieve if we continue to think big… think big.”

BHP aren’t typically advertisers. Nor are they the retail brand that this campaign tries to paint. But not all change is bad either. It reasonable to expect that one our country’s biggest taxpayers over the last 20 years would be trying to buy some public sentiment.

It’s like that moment at dinner when someone’s overheard your conversation and proceeded to rant about something they think is related… when it’s really not, and you end up completely lost in a tangle of words. The ad itself connects their history, story and success with the right imagery to land the brand in the centre of the discussion, as mentioned before, it’s just a little difficult to determine what, exactly, we’re talking about.

And that’s where looks come in. You’d be okay for that person at the dinner table to ramble on in front of you if you’ve been looking for a chance to talk with them all night. The looks, the feel of it, the desirability of the actual execution leaves me wishing the videography team took on the visual identity exclusively. I want to watch it…  There’s a maturity and classic aesthetic value in its execution. Even if you’re not quite sure what it’s all about.

So I’m still there, at the dinner table, not quite sure why I enjoyed that story, or what this interruption to my regular media consumption is really all about. But that’s cool, the ad break’s nearly over, and I’ll think big about it tomorrow…


Viability – Did the idea land? Not really. A positive and confident campaign about a responsible business, sure. But the resolve doesn’t meet with Healy’s remarks about the intent – which at the outset aren’t overtly clear. 3/10

Feasibility – is it reasonable to expect this from BHP? Yes. And the execution is top shelf, only let down by the idea. 7/10

Desirability – do I care? Yes. It’s an attractive ad, full of history, story and call to action… I just wish I knew why…  6/10

Total score: 16 / 30 – “big Australians”



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