Money is… debt.

30 Sep

The trouble with a tease is that it leaves everyone feeling weird and dissatisfied.

They can try all they like to put a positive spin on the way this campaign played out, but the moment other institutions perfectly preempted the punchline BNZ was waiting to deliver, the campaign lost any sense of excitement or wonder.

The only company that will benefit from this campaign is whoever clipped the ticket on all the media.

The last five years have been difficult for everyday New Zealanders. All BNZ has proven with this effort is that they’re charging enough in fees to afford a multimillion dollar TV commercial. Between the dehumanising scale of production and the intentionally American setting, I wouldn’t be surprised if most New Zealanders find the message here to be quite intangible.

Who in New Zealand finds themselves in philosophical turmoil over having money?

It’s unfortunate for BNZ that their campaign drops at a time when Campbell Live has been generating a great deal of awareness around local child poverty. New Zealand is a financial treadmill. Even for those that work hard, this is a difficult country to get ahead

For most New Zealanders, money isn’t good or bad. There’s simply not enough money in circulation for it to even be a factor. Our wages are comparatively low. We have no natural resources. And New Zealanders are notoriously late-adopters, which makes this country a toxic place to start a business.

Simply put, having money is not a problem we’re familiar with.

What we are familiar with is having debt. And the banks are the ones loading us up with it.

The frustrating outtake for most customers will be – ‘why is a bank telling me what to do with my money?’

And for the savvier customers – ‘why is a bank that needed bailing out just a few years ago telling me what to do with my money?’

Meanwhile, the savviest customers will be armed with information like this:


One Response to “Money is… debt.”

  1. littlesteam October 1, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    You’re right, but when you get down to it, it is very difficult to imagine a campaign for a bank that wouldn’t be in some way cynical. This is a prime example because the entire campaign was based around the bank taking a neutral position toward their stock and trade, and they still came off looking like fools.

    I find most bank ad campaigns (intentionally) ambiguous:

    ANZ “We live in your world” = So is ANZ Good or Bad? Is it supposed to be neutral? The only thing that could clarify that statement is giving it some context, and given how they operate in the real world I really struggle to see them in a positive light. Their slogan comes off more like a threat, or some open ended ominous statement than a positive spin on what they do.

    ASB “Creating futures” = I think this one is the worst. They didn’t even bother to say they’re creating “brighter” futures or “your future” (which would be pretty 1984 in itself),… just futures. At least they’re honest about what they’re creating, because banks do create financial products known as futures. How clever they manage to reference the fact that they make the kind of financial products that caused global financial collapse without bothering to comment on whether they will benefit their customers. Well at least it’s honest advertising.

    Kiwibank “Its ours” = Whats ours? The bank or the money? Given that the ads are from a bank I’m assuming they’re talking about the money because surely a bank can’t say it belongs to itself. If they wanted to reference the fact that the people of New Zealand owned it wouldn’t they say “We’re yours”?

    Those are just the first ones that come to mind, but you get the picture. I am honestly surprised that banks hardly ever come straight out and say “We can help you achieve your life goals by lending you money”. They have to be so cool and oblique these days that they don’t even want to pretend a conversation with their customers.

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