NAB is breaking up, but can it find a new love? (Another perspective)

The new ad campaign from Australian bank NAB has potential, but are they capable of leveraging it? The campaign idea of ‘breaking up’ from the other 3 major banks (CommBank, Westpac and ANZ) , has captured lots of media focus and commentary. It has laced its various ‘breaking up’ episodes with a little tongue in cheek humor, albeit it a bit repetitive. It is also using a great mix of media in an integrated manner.

The idea behind the campaign has some merit. It has the potential to provide a strong platform for communicating a point of difference. The mere fact that NAB has publicly distanced itself from the very comfortable ‘club’ like demeanor that the big 4 have portrayed is a great starting point. It has got itself noticed, but will it do anything tangible with its new found attention. The areas that it has chosen to highlight in terms of differences in its break up letter, lack a transformative dimension.

NAB has to truly re-invent itself. It has to find ways to champion the cause of its customers and future customers. It needs some gestures that demonstrably set it apart. In terms of role models it could do worse than borrow some of the attributes of second tier player, Bendigo Bank. In particular a community banking model for regional Australia. It could also seek to re-invent its customer service offering, from banking hours to call center performance. It could also choose a banking related ‘cause’ and own it. An example would be playing an innovative role in creating opportunities for young people to own their own homes.

Whatever NAB does, it has to ensure that its campaign is not just a gimmick. It needs to re-write the rules of banking in a way that enhances the lot of customers and the communities that it serves. If there is no substance, no actual differentiating brand strategy behind the campaign, disgruntled customers, along with the other 3 big banks, will have lots of opportunities to take the mickey out of them. Everyone loves bank bashing, but rarely do we get to see them do it to each other.

Game on NAB! Let’s hope you don’t come crawling back wishing to re-kindle the relationship. Move onward and upward.

Peter Singline
Brand Scientist

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  1. Pete, as you say, Game-On. NAB have set themselves a real challenge, now it’s time to walk the talk. It’s one thing to come-up with a smart brand communication strategy, it’s another to back it up with differentiated customer experiences and product innovation. I watch with interest.

  2. Pete, great article. I think you are right, while I think the campaign is cute, if there is no actual difference between the banks, except that they say so, then in the end, it is a good advertising campaign and that’s about it.

  3. Interesting blog Pete, I saw a press ad for this for the first time in The Age and thought it was written from a consumer group, after realising who the ad was from I immediately thought it was such an undeliverable offer. Heard the expression ‘Pot calling the kettle black’?Such a massive promise from a brand that delivers very little to it’s customers. Will be interesting to see how the other major banks respond to this campaign.

  4. Thanks for the post Peter. Interestingly and quite coincidently, I was lucky enough to have breakfast this morning and hear one of the strategists behind this campaign give a talk, namely Richard Hames. Although he didn’t speak much about this campaign her certainly did through up some very interesting insights into strategic thinking.

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