Australia Hates Goodby Silverstein's Michael Bay Bank Ad

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It seems a new commercial for Australia's Commonwealth Bank has the land of down under angry for two reasons: the bank left Australian agencies behind and came to American agency Goodby Silverstein to create the work. And, secondly, they think the campaign, itself, sucks. Even Australian ad legend John Singleton got in on the hating and called on the bank's CEO to pull the ad because it is "obscene" and a "waste of money."

Obscene, we're not sure about. A waste of money, maybe. The ad, itself, is very insiderish. It's set in a conference room where the ad is being presented to the bank. The camera then pans back to show the conference room in which the commercial has just been presented by the agency to the bank. As the presentation reveals, the commercial was shot by Michael Bay (now appearing in Verizon FiOS commercials) who "used seven helicopters" and is an intended spoof on Bay's and most of the advertising's self-involved granduer.

We understand where Goodby was going with this but it falls flat. There's no "ha, ha" moment. Singleton, who some say is just jealous, told The Daily Telegraph, "I saw it and I thought, 'You're kidding'. You fly to America to get obscene waste-of-money... like that. How can you expect to live in San Francisco and understand the psyche of Australian home buyers?"

Singleton thinks whoever created the ad will be gone in 12 months.

Public relations strategist Bruce Hawker adds, "As far as the industry is concerned, we see it as being self-absorbed. They are talking to themselves. It doesn't have anything to do with the consumers. It is not making themselves stand out as a bank. As far as the industry is concerned it is one of the worst things we've ever seen a bank do. It is tripe and self indulgent."

Perhaps tipping the jealousy card, Hawker explained, They (Commonwealth Bank) pissed a lot of people off when they said an Australian agency couldn't handle the CBA brand account"

To be clear, the ad does suck but does there have to be so much whining over the fact Goodby got the work? Perhaps that was the point of the entire campaign. The bank, as says their tagline, is determined to be different. But not so different that it's like an American ad agency coming in to present something so horrifically bad that it's clearly indicative the agency has no idea how to properly address Australian culture and needs whereas the bank, horrified by this Mad Max-ified American horror show, does. Discuss.

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Comments



Comments

I like it. But then again, I'm not an Australian banking customer.

Posted by: DavidGriner on February 15, 2008 12:56 PM

Shit, i love it. For a bank, are you kidding me, this is killer.

Posted by: Rob on February 15, 2008 2:13 PM

It's a good spot in as much as it makes fun of American sensibilities and tells the viewer that the bank, while perhaps using an American ad agency, doesn't share those sensibilities. I think it's probably just sour grapes on the part of the Australian ad community. But then again, I'm not an Australian banking customer either. I've only been working in advertising for 25 years. I don't know anything.

Posted by: Texan In Hippieland on February 15, 2008 2:57 PM

OMG!
That ad is terrible!
No.1 The ad does seem to be a semi 'take the piss' on why they chose an American agency. It is a waste of money. No likee.
No.2 You can't have Americans writing ads for Australians. Not if it's over the top like this.
Frankly, you just don't get us and I think it has something to do with the fact that you're all caught up in your 'free speech' and 'right to bear arms'.
No.3 It says nothing about banking. What's so good about a bank that's different anyway? If they all decide not to charge fees, give great customer service and low interest rates I don't care if they're all the same.

Posted by: Wisey on February 15, 2008 3:09 PM

Ooohhh Wisey...
You don't understand. Here in America the "right to bear arms" means the right to go out and do target practice with college students as the targets... 'Cos we are all in Militias... Just in case all those wanky Brits like me come back and decide to take back the colonies since Bush has decided to give them to the oil companies. Anyway, why do Australians need banks? Can't they just trade croc and "roo skins for "tinnies" and "snags?" Besides which isn't the American ad biz full of "Oz" folks now??? Fucking wankers, taking all the good jobs away from us Brits...
Cheers/George

Posted by: george parker on February 15, 2008 4:06 PM

the ad blows. meaningless. self-indulgent. kinda dumb. if that's how a bank spends money, i need another bank.

Posted by: guru on February 15, 2008 7:53 PM

Being an Australian I can tell you the ad is talked about a lot, but I've not heard one person defend it. The last line 'Determined To Be Different' is the joke. If they were determined to be different they could have taken their ad spend and credited every banking customer's account by $20. Or waived bank fees for 2008. Or contacted every single customer with personalised tips on how they could bank differently to save money. Now that would be different. Spending a ridiculous amount of money on a big budget ad is what all the banks do.

Posted by: Simone on February 17, 2008 4:45 PM

The CBA has had the balls to do something different; just because it has a US environment my AU brothers and sisters continue to develop their Uncle Sam shoulder chip. Singleton's comments is the definition of irony!

It's a bloody great ad ...mate!!!

Posted by: Paul on February 17, 2008 10:40 PM

Wow Paul, you're really stuck in the 80s. Australians no longer have US chip on shoulder. I don't know how it happened, but somehow we seem to have given it up. It could be that we just began to embrace our own laid back and relaxed lifestyles. Or we all got fed up trying to embrace an 'American dream' that's full of materialism, greed and shooting rampages.
You haven't noticed it?

...I bet you work for CBA anyway.

Posted by: Wisey on February 18, 2008 9:00 AM

It seems to be selling anti-US sentiment than banking. Or at least anti-US-understanding-of-the-Australian-culture sentiment.

Posted by: JL on February 18, 2008 8:31 PM

It seems to be selling anti-US sentiment than banking. Or at least anti-US-understanding-of-the-Australian-culture sentiment.

Posted by: JL on February 18, 2008 8:31 PM

It seems to be selling anti-US sentiment than banking. Or at least anti-US-understanding-of-the-Australian-culture sentiment.

Posted by: JL on February 18, 2008 8:31 PM

One of Australia's leading magazines has just researched the ad and concluded that it's one of the best banking ads around. Problem is, their research methodology looks very suspect. Article on that here: http://tinyurl.com/38owk4

Posted by: Bret Treasure on February 19, 2008 1:58 AM

Just because they spend the most and have the largest amount of air time, doesn't mean it's the best.

Posted by: Wisey on February 19, 2008 11:25 PM

If Australia is anything like the US, breaking through the clutter is close to impossible. Getting Australian ad agecny guys to trash the campaign is a good thing. Who likes ad agency guys anyway? The spots ups the conversation. Based upon the discussions and the amount of words dedicated to this on the blogs this did break through the clutter. It sounds like the promise of Dare to be different is a stretch and that could be an error. Regardless, if people are talking about your brand it means that you have hit upon something that matters to them. Goodby needs to keep the conversation going. The Cricket stuff (can be found on the banks website) does a good job at keeping the joke going. Kudos for the bank for a talking a risk. A big risk. Not many CMO's have the balls to do it. I think it will pay off.

Posted by: Greg on February 23, 2008 1:36 PM

If Australia is anything like the US, breaking through the clutter is close to impossible. Getting Australian ad agecny guys to trash the campaign is a good thing. Who likes ad agency guys anyway? The spots ups the conversation. Based upon the discussions and the amount of words dedicated to this on the blogs this did break through the clutter. It sounds like the promise of Dare to be different is a stretch and that could be an error. Regardless, if people are talking about your brand it means that you have hit upon something that matters to them. Goodby needs to keep the conversation going. The Cricket stuff (can be found on the banks website) does a good job at keeping the joke going. Kudos for the bank for a talking a risk. A big risk. Not many CMO's have the balls to do it. I think it will pay off.

Posted by: Greg on February 23, 2008 1:37 PM

The ad is great, the only people who don't like it are the actual Australians that cannot understand why CBA chose an American/better agency than their own. I love it.

Posted by: O2 on March 3, 2008 11:56 PM

I am an Australian bank user. It stands out and the CBA folk are very happy it's getting noticed. But would I put my money and loan business there? Sorry, no.

Posted by: Tony@TacticalTV on June 15, 2008 9:16 PM

First off I am an American...second my company uses Goodby too...a waste of money yes, but does it catch people's attention yes...both good and bad...I think that is what they are banking on...most Goodby ads are out there...not really demonstrating the product...I see them more as a PR nightmare waiting to happen...they do have talent...ie...look at Adobe's interactive wall...brilliant...innovative...however that is like a diamond in a coal mine...easily over looked

Posted by: Shawn on August 4, 2008 1:09 PM

First off I am an American...second my company uses Goodby too...a waste of money yes, but does it catch people's attention yes...both good and bad...I think that is what they are banking on...most Goodby ads are out there...not really demonstrating the product...I see them more as a PR nightmare waiting to happen...they do have talent...ie...look at Adobe's interactive wall...brilliant...innovative...however that is like a diamond in a coal mine...easily over looked

Posted by: Shawn on August 4, 2008 1:10 PM

I think the ads are great, and I am a Commonwealth customer. Singo wants the ad pulled as he didn't think of it. I love the ads as they make me laugh and cringe.

Posted by: Nick on August 12, 2008 7:34 AM





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