Campaign: Sizzling Summer Deal

Products: Bankwest Zero Transaction Account and Lite Mastercard

Client: Bankwest

Agency: Host

Background

Back in 2007 Bankwest challenged the big four banks by asking, “Why can’t banking be more positive?” This led to the relaunch of Bankwest and the introduction of the ‘Happy Banking: an initiative from Bankwest’ campaign which introduced a cast of happiness experts to help the bank learn about what makes people happy and how we could improve banking.

Since 2007 the ‘Happy Banking’ campaign has helped double the number of customers from 450,000 to over one million at the start of 2010. That’s a pretty happy number, particularly when you consider that during those three years Australia weathered its worst financial crisis in over a decade and Bankwest was acquired by the Commonwealth Bank, which wasn’t a great piece of PR for a bank that set out to be a challenger to the big four (this acquisition was due to a HBOS fire sale rather than poor performance).

What we’ve learnt over the last three years is that the characters are well loved, that a retail style store environment works and that many people have embraced the idea of banking being more positive, so much so that others have started to copy us; well they do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

We have also seen the efficiency of the campaign improve, as despite decreasing spends, our unprompted ad awareness has grown in Sydney and Perth since the launch of ‘Happy Banking’.

Our challenge now is to keep ahead of the game, build on what we’ve learned and never lose sight of the fact that we need to always been seen as a challenger to the big four and protector of the consumer.

Objectives

When Bankwest needed start 2010 with double the number of transaction accounts opened compared to January 2009, while also achieving the same number of credit card applications as the previous year, but with less than half the spend, we needed to stay to true to our challenger status and fully utilise the efficiency of our campaign and characters.

Strategy

People’s mindset in January is to have fun: the nation is on holiday, outside enjoying the sun, having a BBQ, picnics at the beach and spending time with family and friends. Other than the January sales, no one really looks at advertising.

And therein lies the rub – the boring chores and stress of finances versus the fun and frivolity of summer holidays. 

So, it didn’t make sense to play to the category conventions, and try and compete against the massive spends of the big four. Instead, we played to conventions of January – the summer deal. It was a way to get noticed on the page as people were looking for a deal, and allowed us to talk to multiple products.

Execution

Bankwest has always seen itself as a financial retailer first rather than a bank, this led to some key ideas around the creative.

Firstly, that when having a sale, people want to see more than one product; entice them in with a hero one and then show them another in case that wasn’t their cup of tea.

Secondly, that we should have an umbrella theme for the campaign to help quickly establish that these products were all coming under one offer, and which also allowed for additional products to be dropped in.

Thirdly, our greatest assets were the characters that are well loved and instantly recognisable as being from Bankwest. In fact in just three years our prompted ad recall is over 40 percent in both Perth and Sydney, which is higher than Westpac, St George and NAB, all of whom have had consistent campaigns for longer, and with larger spends.

The brief then to creatives was to create an umbrella idea for these products to encourage people to feel positively about making a switch in January, which used the characters in a retail style sales ad.

The ‘Sizzling Summer Deal’ was a fun, tongue in cheek nod to all the retail January sales deals that happen during this time.  The sun character was used not only as shorthand for Bankwest, but also in a badging deviceto give consistency to the range of products and ads.

This idea was then rolled out for six weeks in January across TV, print, outdoor, radio and digital.

We were also very aware that many people were out and about at places such as the beach, cricket and festivals. No one really wants to think about banking at these places, so we needed to get something into their hands that they could take away, hang onto and act as a bit of a reminder at a later date to come in to Bankwest. And what do we all need as we sizzle in the sun? Sunscreen.

22,000 mini tubes of sunscreen were re-badged with our summer deal logo and given out at places including the Big Day Out, Darling Harbour on Australia Day, The Australian Open, Cottesloe Beach and the SCG. A double sided flyer about the products was also given to people, but the great thing about the sunscreen was it was something people would keep in their bags for a few weeks.

Results

We smashed our credit card targets, getting 26,132 applications, which was 21 percent above our target of 21,000.

With transaction accounts we achieved an impressive 9,164 applications, which while below our target of 12,666, was still 54 percent up on the previous year.

The slower performance in transaction accounts was due to the fact that the market had changed massively since September, when our product offering of ‘fee free’ was differentiating. In the following three months each of the big four relaunched, with large media spends behind them and all of them offering a ‘fee free’ account. We should have redressed our targets in light of the changing market context, but all things being equal an increase of 54 percent is a very good result.

The cross-sell style approach to press and landing page creative where weincluded a sizzling deal from another category increased landing page traffic to over 300 percent above average during the campaign.

On credit cards, what makes exceeding our target even more impressive is that it was done for less money than had previously been spent on credit cards during this period, in a more competitive environment and with a less competitive offer than the previous January. This meant that our cost efficiencies improved by up to 35 percent on the targets set.

Putting our spends into the overall context of the financial category, all of the big four had large campaigns in January, which meant while our spend was comparable 08, 09 and 10, our share of expenditure had dropped back.

And this wasn’t just an effect of the GFC, looking back to January 2008, our spend was slightly lower than January 2010, but even then our SOE was higher. The competition had really heated up.

Our overall ROI was 49:1 which was worked out as the additional revenue created from credit cards and transaction accounts over and above our base level of accounts from business as usual.

Continuing with the ‘Happy Banking’ philosophy and our retail attitude to banking allowed Bankwest to successfully promote a range of products to people in a tone that felt familiar to them for the January holiday season.

At a time where our share of expenditure dropped, competition increased and our offerings were being matched by major and minor players we still managed to increase our applications, smash our credit card targets and get greater cost efficiencies across the board and you can’t get happier than that.