One of Australia’s most iconic advertising characters – the tetchy boss from the Yellow Pages’ early 2000s ‘Not Happy Jan’ ad – has been yanked from screens after a short-lived legal stoush.
This week Darrell Lea rebooted the ‘Not Happy Jan’ concept for a new campaign but on Friday announced it has cancelled its ‘No Worries Jan’ ad a day after Yellow Pages’ parent company Sensis issued a cease and desist notice.
In a statement titled ‘No Worries Sensis!!’, the confectionery company said while it’s “disappointed” the legal threat was issued, it will cancel the ads and send “a big box of chocolate their way”.
But Darrell Lea took a parting shot at Sensis, noting at first the company supported the ad.
“We were particularly delighted when the Sensis social media team posted their support of our ad across their social media channels [on Wednesday 29 May].”
Yellow Pages had claimed the original “so loved” 19-year-old Jan ad has been recycled without permission.
“We believe it is right to protect this from being cheapened to sell chocolate,” its executive general manager James Ciuffetelli said.
“To see the Yellow Pages brand, which is iconic and trusted by many Australians, and our beloved character Jan, used by another company for commercial gain is a total shock to us and our customers.”
The stoush may not hurt Darrell Lea’s profile, a Melbourne advertising industry source told The New Daily.
“All their goal would have been is to get their product top of mind, and they’ve been very successful in that,” the source said.
“I think Darrell Lea probably saw it coming and decided to wear it anyway. Any agency would know you can’t blatantly rip off an extremely well-known ad which still has equity.
“They may get fined, but so what? Everyone’s talking about Darrell Lea. And it’s also coverage for Yellow Pages, so they’re not going to be entirely unhappy either.”
While acknowledging the phone directory company was “flattered” the confectionery business had used the memorable Jan, “it has been used without our consultation or approval,” Mr Ciuffetelli said.
“It’s clear on social media that a number of people believe Yellow Pages has endorsed this campaign, which is not the case.”
The ‘No Worries Jan’ campaign launched to some media fanfare on Wednesday, with Darrell Lea’s marketing manager Tim Stanford calling it “big, bold and brilliant work”.
The goal was to relaunch the brand in Australia after it went into administration in 2012.
Created by Melbourne’s Clemenger BBDO, the original 2000 ‘ad saw comedian Deborah Kennedy as a boss who is discovers her company isn’t in the Yellow Pages.
She summons an underling, Jan, and asks where the listing is. Jan scurries off on a mission as Kennedy yells out a window, “Not happy, Jan!”
It became so popular that “the line entered the cultural vernacular as a catchphrase used to express a feeling of discontent”, according to its entry on Wikipedia.
In the new campaign, Kennedy reprises her starring role but this time, while the hapless Jan is scurrying off, she eats Darrell Lea to calm her down.
The result? The revamped 2019 window yell is, “No worries Jan”.
Akkomplice’s founder and creative director Kenny Hill said the campaign “would get people talking and bars flying off the shelves.
On Wednesday, Mr Stanford promised the new ad was “just the beginning” for his company: “It puts Darrell Lea back on the map.”