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Connexus : Issue 42
strategy is a headline-grabbing issue upsetting credit unions, building societies and mutual banks. The Bank of Melbourne, for example, has rolled out public statements in recent months boasting of how it is "taking on the majors", without clear reference that it is owned by Westpac. Of course, Westpac also owns St George, BankSA and mortgage broker RAMS; the Commonwealth has BankWest in its stable and due to the ACCC's recent ruling now has majority control of Aussie Home Loans; and NAB runs UBank. The public are oblivious to this power play. "People see that there's plenty of competition in the market, unaware that the four majors own a lot of those sub-brands," says James at Teachers Mutual Bank. James, Whitehead, Walsh and Evers also point out that there is a real risk for the public as a result of this "illusion" of competition because consumers may not be aware that the federal gover nment's $250,000 deposit guarantee applies only to the licensed banking entity. That means, for example, that a customer with deposits of more than $250,000 at Westpac's sub-brands would be covered only for $250,000 in total, not multiple lots of $250,000. "The fact is, it's all Westpac and it's only $250,000 in aggregate,” says James. “The Australian public needs to know the practical aspect of this.” Evers agrees the public is being misled by Headlining a layered campaign They are the kind of headlines the customer owned banking sector has been craving: ‘big four grow, few know by how much' (The Daily Telegraph), ‘Mutuals act to break big bank dominance' (The Australian) and ‘Which bank? It’s not always easy to tell’ (news.com.au). A media blitz questioning the major banks' dominance of the banking market in Australia indicates the campaign has struck a chord. With more than 100 media hits early in the campaign, Lorraine Jokovic is pleased with the "huge" response. Jokovic is chief executive of the brand and advertising agency LOUD, which is responsible for creating and implementing the Balance Banking campaign. She says the campaign marries communications strategy with strong creative. “The creative needed to have cut- through in the environment it’s in,” she says. "When you are launching a campaign like this, which is about stimulating conversation among the Australian public, you need to be able to get straight to the point and let the facts speak for themselves.” Those facts include ndings from a D&M poll of 1,000 Australian adults, with two in three people supporting an independent inquiry into the banking system. The Balance Banking campaign has been deployed across a broad range of media, including press, online, outdoor events and social media. "That's how people consume media these days. It’s a layered efect,” says Jokovic. Social media is crucial to the campaign, with Facebook and Twitter platforms allowing constant engagement and discussion. Jokovic says the aim is to stimulate conversation while recognising that most banking discussion in Australia centres on the big four. "The Australian public rarely get an opportunity to have a conversation, so we’ve given them a forum to do that.” Many campaigns are "set and forget", but LOUD will actively manage this one on a day-to-day basis, responding and changing elements as required. Monitoring of Twitter, Facebook and blogs will be a critical component. Although the initiative focuses on dissatisfaction with the banking system, the beauty of the scenario is that credit unions, building societies and mutual banks are part of the solution, says Jokovic. "The campaign is a re ection of issues around the big banks that the broader community feels strongly about. It’s no surprise the sector represents the alternative, so it’s a perfect ft in that respect." To maintain momentum for the campaign, Jokovic calls on Abacus members and supporters to take to forums such as Facebook and Twitter to promote the cause. Abacus has also distributed Balance Banking marketing and communication material to to inform the public and generate more discussion. “We need as many voices in the discussion as possible,” Jokovic says. www.abacus.org.au 33