Why ANZ’s brand campaign seems off-target

Thursday 21st, January 2016

ANZ-worldshapers-collage

 

ANZ Australia have been running a brand campaign ‘Your World, Your Way’ in the Asia Pacific region. The intention is to reinforce ANZ’s positioning and reputation as a global brand.

Having seen the campaign and on the Internet, I have to say this.

I feel sorry for ANZ.

They have a huge communication task at hand. And it’s not an easy one. The task is to stay relevant to an entirely new generation of digital natives. Who want to do their banking transactions on the go. Sending money to friends, making payments, settling bills are all tasks that have long since removed the necessity of having to visit a bank branch.

Legacy banking

Time was when the world’s great bank established their reputations over decades. They grew from an intimate presence in your neighbourhood to multi-national giants.

The high street branch was typically a part of your family over generations. The bank manager knew you from the time you were little; there was a good chance he’d still be around when you turned into a saving and investing adult.

Times were good back then.

Banks had the luxury of time and space to build their brands. They could afford to invest in the one singular brand value that distinguished a financial brand from others.

Trust.

So, it’s not surprising that trust was a core value that virtually every bank in the world has emphasised at some time or the other in its existence.

It mattered little that from time to time, many of the biggest names were caught in financial malfeasance of some kind or the other by regulators. However, this did little to dent the confidence of retail audiences who continued to save and invest as usual.

After all, what alternative did anybody have?

Technology – the disruptive influence

Over the last few years, technology has disrupted the payments and settlements space dramatically. If credit cards, online banking and ATMs were holding their own until recently, the pace of change has accelerated dramatically in the last couple of years. The rise of mobile payment and digital wallet options such as Apple Pay, Google Wallet and so on is a pointer.

For a traditional financial institution which offered the whole basket of services from retail to institutional finance, it is no longer clear that they have a role to play at the retail end.

Consider this. Apple Pay is estimated to have signed up a million customers within the first three days that it launched the service in the US.

The elephants in the room

There has also been the parallel rise of a bewildering variety of services, each of which lets you do a set of banking activities.

The rise of P2P services such as Venmo, Barclays Pingit and numerous others in the US and Europe is another pointer to how banks face competition from the most unexpected sources.

And the over-arching presence of Facebook’s new Messenger which incorporates payment functionality may swing things away even more dramatically.

 

Coming back to the ANZ campaign, it is hard to deny how much of a soft-focus and evocative feel it has. But, this is advertising aimed at traditional middle-aged audiences the way most advertising agencies would define target audiences based on a mix of demographic and psychographic profiles.

Where is the ‘edginess’ that ought to come from appealing to younger audiences? The Bank does not seem to have made a conscious effort to flag such audiences. If a large, well-established bank such as ANZ needs to be certain about its future it cannot afford to ignore such audiences.

They are less forgiving, more impatient and they do not necessarily care for the values that their parents did. Trust and security may not be sufficiently higher-order benefits; an app carries an implicit assurance of security which digital natives are willing to accept on faith. Unless proven otherwise.

If ANZ is to continue to stay relevant, it must re-invent itself and its communication for the brave new world of twenty-somethings.

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