Australian consumers are firmly entrenched in a relationship
with one of four large banks that dominate the retail banking
market: Commonwealth, Westpac, ANZ and National Australia Bank
Over time, a combination of financial distress, interest rate
rises and increased bank fees have led to the Australian public to
believe that the four biggest banks are all the same - doing what's
best to make money rather than caring about customers. This
perception of a common purpose amongst the banks led to a lack of
motivation to switch from one provider to another.
Against this background of apathy towards the banking industry,
one of the four - the NAB had over the course of the two previous
years made a number of changes to its business. Fees were abolished
and interest rates were lowered in an attempt to be considered
fairer and more competitive by customers. But research demonstrated
that these changes had rendered little impact due to the perception
of similarity between banks.
In an effort to increase customer numbers, NAB needed to make
people see the bank had changed and separated itself from its
competitors. Therefore a key objective for this brand campaign was
focused on changing customer perception.
Changing consumer perception in a category laden with baggage
required a dramatic idea, especially when focus groups with
non-customers revealed common insights such as: "There is no point
switching banks as they are all in it together."
Breaking up is hard to do
The resulting concept was the 'NAB Break Up'. Instead
of fighting the perception that all banks were the same, a
communication platform was created that would make people witness
NAB break away from its banking peer group. The idea was to
announce the 'split' in one powerful public moment, that would
capture the media and nation's attention - a moment that would make
people realise the NAB was different from other banks. To help
alter the public perception, every media element of the break-up
had to make people believe NAB had changed. The new NAB did things
The goal was to dominate and surround the Australian public with
the new message. A limited budget required a combination of a paid,
owned and earned approach - primarily driving awareness of the
break up while getting people to actively consider switching to NAB
and creating a swell of advocates.
First, the bank posted a tweet to 2,000 followers about 'hurting
feelings' which spread because people assumed it was posted by
mistake. Next the full page break up letter appeared in every major
newspaper and online portal in Australia. A giant copy of the
letter appeared at NAB head office in the Docklands area of
Melbourne. People could find 60 films of NAB bankers breaking up
with other bankers on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The break up
escalated with large format sites visible to people on their
morning commute. Street furniture targeted customers near NAB and
its competitor's branches.
Radio amplified the break-up via a NAB sponsorship of Richard
Mercer's Love Songs & Dedications radio show. Various
out-of-home media such as street chalking, skywriting, light
projections and helium-banners were also deployed . Mobile
billboards parked in front of competitor branches acting as
temporary stages featuring a man on a piano singing love songs.
Print ads appeared in women's magazines placed next to relationship
As confused customers turned to the internet to work out what
was going on, a SEO strategy enabled consumers to connect to the
Break Up campaign. All activity pointed to the 'Break Up
blog' showcasing all of NAB's changes and social media kept people
informed for the duration of the campaign.
Positive sentiment about NAB rose by over 320% (Source:
Sentiment Metrics) - in a category where negative sentiment is an
Sweeney Research showed that post campaign that NAB was leading
its competitors in the key brand perception attributes of
"leader in making banking fairer" and "transparent
with fees & charges" and achieved increased in
consideration and purchase intent for NAB from non-customers.
More than 100,000 people visited the Break Up blog. The
campaign generated $5 million of earned PR media in a single day
with news stories featuring in key Australian news programs.
Outside of brand results the campaign resulted in a 79% increase
in weekly home loan enquiries, a 50% increase in weekly credit card
applications and a 20% increase in new transaction accounts being
opened. NAB managed to secure the custom of more than 225,000 new
The Break-up blog