The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


Cannes Can’t Help Themselves …
June 29, 2011, 6:20 am
Filed under: Comment

OK, admission time, I hate Cannes.

I hate almost everything about it.

I appreciate it has some good points but I can’t help but feel it’s doing it’s best to destroy those too.

I wrote about much of this on my last visit there – however I’ve just heard that the ‘PR Grand Prix’ has been awarded to Australian Bank, NAB, for their ‘Break Up With The Banks’ stunt.

This was where they staged couples breaking up in restaurants on Valentine’s day and viraled the results.

No, I’m serious.

The justification for this campaign was that there was a perception in Australia that the big 4 banks were in cahoots and fixed charges … so what better way than to say/prove otherwise than to complicate a fairly simple message with a bit of contrived communication when all they had to do was change and uncomplicate their fee structure, stick to it and communicate it.

“But people don’t care/believe what their banks say and do”, I hear you say.

That’s right, and it’s because of bullshit stuff like this that is part of the cause.

“But lots of people talked about it and it achieved much more coverage than their media budget could of achieved on it’s own”, you retort.

Sure, but being talked about doesn’t automatically mean you’ve captured societies imagination, it can also mean people think you’re shit.

I talked about this campaign at Circus [admittedly after only seeing one of their billboards] and afterwards, someone from the NAB marketing team came up to me “to put me right”.

Standing 2 inches from my face, he said …

“The problem is you only saw one part of the campaign, so you don’t know the whole picture because if you did, you’d know that we are not like the other banks” … before proceeding to tell me in minute detail everything they’d done for the campaign.

I took this in for a few seconds before I said that as far as I knew, the Australian Government had not passed a law stating all its citizens must watch every piece of communication created as part of their advertising campaign and because of this, I’d possibly seen as much of the campaign as the average Australian punter. I also pointed out that even after he had told me what the campaign was about, I still had no desire to consider moving to them and if anything, it made me distrust them because a financial institution that thinks it’s a wise investment to fake relationship break ups in restaurants on Valentine’s Day is not the sort of company I want looking after my money.

He walked away.

When I look at what IDEO did for Bank of America and compare it to this shit, I shudder and the fact it got the Grand Prix at Cannes [albeit in the PR section] it makes me sick.

At a time where so many people think banks are arseholes – I find it amazing they used this approach for their communication. Don’t get me wrong, financial institutions don’t have to communicate like they all have the charisma of Keanu Reeves, but this sort of approach won’t change the way people think of them … fundamentally changing how they behave and operate will change the way people think of them.

I appreciate the role of PR can be different to other channels of communication, however I know how amazingly influential it can be and seemingly having a goal of getting ‘column inches’ is – at least to me – underselling the potential of the discipline and shows Cannes is still more about the gimmick than the power of commercial creativity, regardless what programs and speakers they put on display.


63 Comments so far
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fucking grade a ranting campbell. for once im not fucking embarrassed to know you.

Comment by andy@cynic

pr can be fucking great, the stealth fucking influencer, now it stands for pointless rubbish.

Comment by andy@cynic

i keep saying that this sort of shit gets awards because the judges want to be associated with something big that makes them feel good about the industry they work in rather than focus on the fucking stuff that does what the ultimate fucking goal was but it fucking appears every bit of work at cannes ha the goal of look nice and gain fucking awareness.

the thought that something like this wins for pr makes me fucking sick because the best pr is the shit that shapes public opinion without you even fucking realising it.

Comment by andy@cynic

Careful Andrew, your second paragraph is showing your intelligence again. Very good point as well.

Comment by George

I’m with George … “the thought that something like this wins for pr makes me fucking sick because the best pr is the shit that shapes public opinion without you even fucking realising it” … is a bloody great comment. What on earth has happened to you Andy?

Sad to see PR seems to be evaluating itself on ‘awareness’ rather than influence … especially awareness built on loud and unsubtle schlock value.

Comment by Rob

ive always admired your fucking good taste.

Comment by andy@cynic

That’s a brilliant quote Andy, I may use it around the water cooler tomorrow.

I’m happy that the number of TVCs winning in cyber finally has the juries clueing up to the fact that all those categories are ridiculous and stopped making sense (except for the organisers) a long long time ago. It’d be interesting to see if they will do something about it, or add more categories like they do every year.

I like cannes though, it’s nice…

Comment by Rafik

You’re right Rafik, Cannes is wonderful – except for a few weeks per year when it’s full of film and ad people.

The porn festival is possibly the only exception. Ha.

Comment by Rob

ok campbell. where can i watch your circus rant. well i dont want to see you for obvious fucking reasons, but hearing you would be quite good.

Comment by andy@cynic

I have it on DVD.

How much does that comment make you sick?

Comment by Rob

A DVD the circus organisation is selling!

Comment by Rafik

I think it’s a case of ‘in theory’ they’re selling. In practice, they’re stuck with a box full of the bastards. Hahaha.

Comment by Rob

you fucking said it campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

ha, do you know that because of all the royalties they promised you? 🙂

Comment by Rafik

I wouldn’t believe anyone who promised me royalties on something I said so there’s been no disappointment from my side Rafik, ha!

Comment by Rob

this post has me fucking angry. thanks campbell, best ive fucking felt in ages.

off to find out who were the judges on this fucked up category and then pay them a visit. with a fucking baseball bat.

Comment by andy@cynic

I understand Australia has not been hit as hard as other countries with the financial crisis but I love every word in this post. Even the swearing. Major banks, wherever they are based, deserve it.

Comment by George

look at george being a tough bastard. wont last but nice to fucking see. for once.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m so fortunate to have you tell me what I should do, feel and think.

Comment by George

youre like a bus. not because you make no comments for months then 3 come at once but because youre harmless but fucking expensive.

big question. working late or family away?
bigger question. are you still buying me a fucking expensive dinner on saturday?

finally ive found a use for this blog.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’ll show your comment to Mary and get back to you.

Comment by George

fuck.

Comment by andy@cynic

And the award for best strategic riposte goes to George.

Comment by john

i too found it to be not the greatest idea. after all, they broke up with the other banks. or something. im wondering if anyone did even get it or if they were just amazed that a bank actually did something in the public sphere. however, it did, according to their entry, raise numbers.
question is if this effect will last and what is going to happen when people find out that its just a bank, not as different as the others and as people might expect from this campaign. so if this is just a quick fix with hot air.

Comment by peggy

If a guy tried this hard to dare a girl, she’d call him a creep and call the police. Wouldn’t she Billy?

Comment by DH

she might just laugh in his face. no police needed.

Comment by peggy

good one peggy but if some fucker is stupid enough to change banks because of this shit, they deserve all they get. or dont get which is more fucking likely from a bank.

Comment by andy@cynic

thanks andy. it annoys me enormously that i have to agree with you. not the praise. no, you saying that theyll get what they deserve. because i find it sickening how pr and comms is used to bullshit people and go after their weaknesses, misusing their trust or hope or whatever again and again. i m going to sleep every night praying that the world wisens the fuck up. because as the ideo idea proves there can be things done that actually dont reflect badly on the comms industry. unlike trying to bullshit people. so much for effectiveness.

Comment by peggy

dont worry peggy, every one does in the end.

the blame doesnt just lie with pr and comms, it also lies with the fucking idiots who blindly jump in without checking to see if theyre going to land in a big pile of steaming shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

i worry. we live in a stupid world.

i was blaming them both in my comment. and then i firmly believe that (commercial) communication should not be a competition in fucking people over. because with half a brain you can if you want to.

Comment by peggy

Not all creative communication fucks people over – hopefully less than more – however I do have to say that whether someone likes it or not is often in the eye of the beholder, however that shouldn’t be an excuse to alienate, but a challenge to find the ultimate solution.

I think some have done it. Hopefully I’ve been part of a few … but the opportunity and the reality are not met as much as they could or should be.

Comment by Rob

from my point of view its not about liking something or not, but tricking people into making choices that are bad for them. knowingly and objectively bad, but a nice little advantage for the trickster. those things are more often than not tied to the product or service. speaking of banks, some people might be able to afford a loan. some arent. getting them both a nice little loan for a home is what helped the 2008 meltdown happen.

i know that not all communication tries to fuck people over. thank god or i would kill myself.

Comment by peggy

and isnt it somewhat funny that those who helped sell loans to people who could not afford them got affected in the end. some call it karma. i call it logic. lose lose either way.

Comment by peggy

Forget all the other reasons, the idea is shit.

It’s like giving Madonna the oscar for best actress for that robinson crusoe shit she did with her ex.

Comment by DH

That makes it sound like all her other movies are good. They’re not. Sorry for any misunderstanding.

Comment by DH

Award ceremonies are essentially promotional devices, but what’s the point in promoting past promotions? Can anyone explain that without mentioning ego?

Comment by john

And bad ones at that.

Comment by DH

Oh we have a fine tradition of bloody awful bank ads and pr in Oz. My favourite bit of recent bollocks is an ad for a citibank credit card that offers ‘free rewards’! Isn’t the whole point of an award that it’s free?

Yeah, there was a lot of chatter about this campaign, but in the end it’s not doing anything to the bank market in Oz – no one cares, they’re all shit.

Comment by Alex

you can come back alex.

Comment by andy@cynic

Thanks for the invitation. You’re very sweet.

Comment by Alex

calling me sweet is fighting talk. never fucking do that again.

Comment by andy@cynic

I don’t know anything about Australian banks but I’m guessing this is a better ad for the competition than the one who executed it. Even then, I wonder if anyone cared?

IDEO made people care. The people behind this made an ad.

Great post Rob and great retort to the bank person. Though he does get commendation for company loyalty.

Comment by Pete

im agreeing with a planner. fuck me, its come to that.

Comment by andy@cynic

It’s the beginning of the end.

Comment by Rob

“IDEO made people care. The people behind this made an ad.” Says it all Pete.

Comment by George

+1.

Comment by Rob

My overdrawn check fees have paid for this campaign. Well, they would if I had a bank account with these guys and lived in australia.

Comment by Billy Whizz

and if you had money.

Comment by andy@cynic

There is nothing to add to this post except to say I loved it.

Comment by Bazza

Cannes is as Banks are for people?

Comment by Jim

Interesting post and comments. Especially from Andrew. Frightening.

Comment by Lee Hill

I know I shouldn’t but I can’t help it.. what if.. what if there is more to come, what if the agency is working on other more tangible stuff and the ad is just the beginning..

If that is not the case, please continue, but maybe there/was is more to come..

I seem to remember Levi’s getting a right slapping for ‘go forth’, but some have changed the minds on them..

and yes IDEO did a brill thing. But part of me wonders, if them being able to sell it to the client (not the work itself), had more to do with it being done in a period of high turnover and great economics being able to bail out any crap marketing and ad campaigns, so why not have a go.. it is not like they did great banking stuff lately (though they may, it just did not reach me then).

Yes Rob, you can and should counter by saying this agency did not prove the commercial value of other ideas, but I don’t know if the client has been offered more (with proof) and just chose to go with the ad and pr, because of lazyness/fear on his or her part.

I support the overall sentiment of this post, just trying to work out some nuance in my head with regards to banks and advertising specifically (???)

Comment by niko

Maybe you’re right Niko … but even if you are, I still think their approach is wrong because at the end of the day, some contrived ‘break up’ story isn’t of value to the public, the benefits of breaking up with the other banks are of value to the public.

Pete summed it up best … but my take would be the agency in question started with the goal of making an ad, rather than doing something that would make customers actively move to this new bank and then doing ads to promote that idea.

On the brightside, your job as marketing director at NAB or the agency is there for the taking. Ha.

Comment by Rob

wrong continent, for now 😉

Comment by niko

unless you can see the link between breaking up with other banks and their new campaign: ‘getting rid of the asterisk in banking’ niko, it seems unlikely.

Comment by lauren

I’m not a huge fan of banks.

Comment by Marcus

Even one that has broken up with the others via the most contrived, complicated and down-right pathetic ads ever?

Comment by Rob

Welcome back.
Excellent ranting.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

just re read this. still like it. that means im ill or youve done something half fucking decent for once. thank fuck i know normal bollocks service will return in the morning.

Comment by andy@cynic

Run for the hills.

Comment by Billy Whizz

oh bollocks. i posted a long response to this last night and it looks like it didn’t turn up. wordpress on ipad sucks still.

here’s the jist:

ha! i think this bank have employed the advertising services of half australia’s ad industry. and they still don’t get it.

i think we ranted about this to each other at circus, rob. i also raised similar concerns with same person, and got the same ‘but wait, there’s more’ response. funny. weird. turns out the real world isn’t into ‘integration’ as much as we think, huh.

but, let them have their PR award. in 2 years time no one will remember the campaign, except those negotiating the retainer. and they still won’t figure out that it’s cheaper to not act like cocks, than it is to have a multi-million dollar re-branding/PR exercise every 2.5 years.

Comment by lauren

I loved that we ranted about this in person. You might not, but I do. And I agree with every word you’re saying too.

Comment by Rob

oh, i love that we ranted about this in person too. i think that we should make that more of a regular thing, rather than just some random accident 🙂
[that’s not meant to be a threat – it just sounds like one]

Comment by lauren




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