A blog for the New Zealand creative advertising industry, now at www.campaignbrief.com/nz. Email news to: michael@campaignbrief.com

Monday, January 28, 2008


In Australia, the much anticipated Commonwealth Bank campaign created by Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco is getting a caning on the
  • . Amongst other insults, a few CB Bloggers are saying the new work is not original, with some Kiwi expats claiming it has similarities to the ASB campaign, not surprising they say, given that both Barbara Chapman, the Commonwealth Bank’s group executive, human resources and group services and CEO Ralph Norris, came from the ASB, which is owned by the Commonwealth Bank.

    Here's the CB Blog article:

    The Commonwealth Bank launched its long-awaited branding work from Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco on Australia Day with a mockumentary-style campaign based around the bank working with its cast of well-meaning, but culturally clueless American advertising executives and invariably polite, persistent and patient Australian clients.
    Launching on Nine during the cricket, Ten during the tennis and Foxtel/Austar tomorrow, there will be a video broadcast on NineMSN with live screening at Martin Place and Hyde Park. Running for a week it will be followed by a spot featuring the Australian cricket team and then a home loans spot. A
  • has been developed which will showcase the ads with backgrounders about the cast members, which includes a copywriter/art director called Luke and Luke.
    The Commonwealth’s Bank marketing general manager Mark Buckman says the campaign hasn’t been tested with the general public – the
  • was only finished twenty minutes before he flew back from San Francisco last night – but he is confident the general public media is savvy enough to get it. He adds that picking up on the humour is not reliant on the general public knowing the bank used an American agency.
    When the first half of the commercial appeared on YouTube this morning, bloggers went into over-drive unsure whether it was a joke or the real offering, a reaction that reflects the scrutiny the bank has been under since appointing the US agency nine months ago.
    Says Buckman: “It is intended to break the conventions of banking marketing and give something different that will stand out on Australian television. We saw multiple options before we landed on this campaign, which we think is bold and exciting. It’s quite provocative and is certainly different to what we have done before. We think it is really funny, sort of like Seinfeld meets The Office, but most importantly it gives us a device to communicate the many different ways the Commonwealth Bank is different to our competitors."
    Goodby, which was recently named Advertising Age’s and AdWeek’s Agency of the Year, presented about three campaigns to the agency including one Buckman is calling a “safe" approach, which the bank rejected in favour of this more entertaining and edgier idea.
    “In this media savvy world….being able to engage with the Australian public on an emotional level and connect with them in a way they will want to connect with us and find out more about the Comm Bank so what we have created is more like a sitcom series than it is conventional advertising," he says, admitting that it was partly inspired by the experience they had working on the campaign.
    Goodby’s Steve Simpson, creative director on the campaign, says the agency is fictional and is not Goodby, but plays on Americans being a convenient foil for all the excesses of marketing and taps into the fascination for advertising.
    Says Simpson: “Everyone is now a filmmaker as we see on YouTube, we invite the public to make their own commercials, user-generated content is all the rage and everyone I ever meet who finds out I’m in advertising has had an ad idea so there is this interest in what goes on behind-the-scenes so the making of this stuff becomes the subject of the advertising. There are clear stylistic nods to the Office, the way the silence is played, the awkwardness of the client’s reaction."
    Print and outdoor ads, web advertising and in-brand materials will put the Bank’s message more simply, offering proof points of the Commonwealth’s new truth.
    The Commonwealth Bank’s group executive, human resources and group services, Barbara Chapman says most people had a view of the bank as a traditional, established big bank, part of Australia but lacking in momentum and a bit lacking in energy: “Internally I see an organization that is quite different, it is going through a transformation of change and is focusing very much on the customer and customer service and our vision to excel in customer service is coming to life as we speak in every interaction that we have. It’s an unusual position where the perception of the bank is a little bit behind the reality."
    She says 70% of its customers as nine or ten out of ten for their most recent branch interaction, making the biggest marketing challenge that of getting that perception changed among customers and staff
    “It’s not just a tagline, ‘determined to be different’ is something we are going to live up to and we are living up to and will live up to that every single day. We are prepared to be judged by that commitment and that determination and it's not determined to be different from where we have been but to be different from every other bank in this market," she says.

    AGENCY: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco
    CREATIVE DIRECTORS: Rich Silverstein, Steve Simpson
    COPYWRITERS: Pat McKay, Chris Beresford-Hill, Rick Condos
    ART DIRECTORS: Feh Tarty, Will Hammond, Hunter Hindman
    PRODUCERS: Barbro Eddy, Jake Grand
    DIRECTOR: Eric Lynne
    PRODUCTION COMPANY: Partizan Productions, Los Angeles


    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Putting aside the fact that it's lame to steal, and that it can be argued it’s not theft if the same bank owns both campaigns, my question is...

    Does it matter if they use a successful strategy from here in a slightly different way there – it’s not like the brands will ever compete?

    11:42 PM NZDT

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    it's a funnier idea than goldstien.

    9:09 AM NZDT

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Ahhh the ol' "Truth in Advertising" eh?

    10:56 AM NZDT

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I'm with 11:42. I think it makes complete sense to use the same strategy. The only problem is that 99% of the time it's someone in an American or Singaporean office deciding that New Zealand and Australia are so similar they can save money running Australian ads here. The worst example of which is the Wrigley's gum ad with the Australian skier. McDoanld's is suffering the same fate as we speak.

    4:23 PM NZDT

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The Comm bank ad wasnt stolen off ASB at all, have you watched it? ASB is a story about a us bank sending someone to NZ to find out why the NZ bank is so good. Every ounce of the work is about pushing the benefits for ASB customers.
    The Comm bank ad is about a US agency having no idea what australia is about and doing an ad for the bank. Completely different ideas. It is a rip off of the Jack in the box ad and unlike the ASB ads it has no positive spin off for the Comm bank. No benefit for Comm Bank customers. Unless their cutomers are happy to see that the fictional comm bank marketing people know a bad ad when they see one.

    7:48 PM NZDT

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    7.48 - Bang on, and hahahaha.

    Would love to see how this pans out over a number of years... will the marketing team keep rejecting their ideas? And if so will they fire the agency after the third round of fuck-ups and go to another agency and start the whole process again? Or will they go back to austalia, tail between their legs, and hire an aussie agency... like they probably should do in real life.

    10:27 AM NZDT


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