CommBank apologises for Olympic backpack bomb hoax ad

olympic backpack

The guard wrestles for the suspicious backpack

CommBank has issued a terse apology for its London Olympics hoax bomb ad which it launched on YouTube last night.

CommBank pulled down the ad – featuring the company mascots tipping off a security guard about a suspicious backpack – earlier today. London’s 2005 suicide bombings the day after the city won the Olympics were carried out by terrorists with backpacks.

In a brief statement, the bank said:

“The Commonwealth Bank apologises for the online video released to its YouTube Channel.

“We acknowledge some concerns were raised and the material was withdrawn this morning.”


  1. Matt
    2 Aug 12
    3:11 pm

  2. What on Earth were they thinking?

  3. Winston
    2 Aug 12
    3:14 pm

  4. I’m astonished! this is stupid and quite frankly puerile, which ad company thought that up?

  5. Disco_box
    2 Aug 12
    3:15 pm

  6. Who was the agency? What a moronic stunt! F’wits.

  7. S
    2 Aug 12
    3:16 pm

  8. No they CAN’T

    Just restating their brand of what they’re allowed to do

  9. JJ
    2 Aug 12
    3:20 pm

  10. CAN we be so stupid – YES WE CAN!

  11. Dan
    2 Aug 12
    3:33 pm

  12. So is their message that CommBank, try as they might just can’t get rid of the ‘T’ and can’t do stuff?

    Why is the T still around?

    It seems a very confused strategy.

    I assume the actual idea was, ‘Lets all get a free trip to London and film some edgy viral stuff on the street.’

  13. Hmmmm...
    2 Aug 12
    3:46 pm

  14. So now Lark is saying that it was “unauthorised” and anyway, it’s totally “un-newsworthy”.

    Yeah, nice try.

  15. anon
    2 Aug 12
    3:49 pm

  16. hahah will he ever accet responsibility for… errr anything?

  17. Angela Smith
    2 Aug 12
    3:51 pm

  18. I do NOT understand how this ad must have gone through multiple team members at M&C plus Commbank, and not one raised any issue. Rose-coloured glasses or just plain delusional?

  19. GW
    2 Aug 12
    3:54 pm

  20. Blame the agency-dump the Marketing Director-what an idiot

  21. lars ulrich
    2 Aug 12
    3:58 pm

  22. didn’t think this campaign could get any worse

    i was wrong.

  23. chris
    2 Aug 12
    3:59 pm

  24. (morally) Bankrupt

  25. Kev
    2 Aug 12
    4:03 pm

  26. a big W-T-F
    bad taste……why on earth would you do that……..surprised CBA actually approved the idea.

  27. Turn the lights off on the way out...
    2 Aug 12
    4:10 pm

  28. The post next to this says bruno was let go for his jokes about movie massacres…

  29. Haha
    2 Aug 12
    4:31 pm

  30. Lark declined to comment further as “it’s just not even newsworthy”


  31. Haha
    2 Aug 12
    4:31 pm

  32. Lark declined to comment further as “it’s just not even newsworthy”.

    Grow up

  33. Lloyd
    2 Aug 12
    4:36 pm

  34. C’mon…. Did he really say it’s ‘unauthorised’?

    As a client, if my agency ever release ‘unauthorised’ work, whether or not it damages my brand… they would no longer be my agency.

    So Lark, if you did actually make that statement, are you going to sack the agency or the people in your team that did authorise it?

  35. Fred
    2 Aug 12
    4:44 pm

  36. unbelievable – who on earth thought a bomb joke would be a good idea?

    And I don’t believe it was unauthorised – agency isn’t going to fork over the cash for business class to London without a client signature on the estimate.

  37. Sylvia's Mother
    2 Aug 12
    5:16 pm

  38. Why don’t they simply say we made a mistake and it was a bad idea and we regret it.

    Why all the prevaricating?

  39. Can't talk your way out of this one
    2 Aug 12
    6:47 pm

  40. Cheap, disgusting, bad taste, poor judgment, lack of understanding, scrapping the barrel…..all the things CBA and their agencies ‘can’ do

  41. Chutzpah
    2 Aug 12
    7:11 pm

  42. “We acknowledge some concerns were raised?”


  43. Anonymous
    2 Aug 12
    7:18 pm

  44. Umm feel like the chaser boys stunt?? At least when theybroke security it was funny. This was not relevant, not funny and staged. Not to mention tasteless.

  45. A. Non.
    2 Aug 12
    9:32 pm

  46. There is not an ad that runs on air without client approval…..we know that. So apart from the ad being a stupid idea, the comm bank approved it. So Stupid makes as stupid allows. C’mon Tom McFarlane you’re better than to let this even make it to the client….Jo must have popped a blood vessal over this.
    And……I thought T was done in the first week of the campaign….Ho hum…what a curious bunch we are???

  47. gva
    2 Aug 12
    10:05 pm

  48. The 14th comment makes a good point… and at least Bruno took responsibility for his behaviour.

    Lark’s flippant attitude is nothing short of a run on of the add… insensitive and idiotic.

    This is a mess of a strategy driving a campaign that is now offensive, tasteless and base. I can’t say that I would compare this with the Chaser in any way however, those guys pushed some serious boundaries and stepped too far over on a few occasions but when it came to their “barrier stunt”, they were at least making a legitimate political/social commentary on the situation.

    These guys should be ashamed of themselves, for this stint and for the pathetic follow up… “unauthorised” how f**king stupid do you think we all are? Or how f**king stupid are you? Pick one and stick with it.

  49. Cheats
    3 Aug 12
    8:43 am

  50. Comm ban

  51. PR 101
    3 Aug 12
    9:21 am

  52. Aside from the insensitive, inappropriate, offbrand idiocy of the video, I am stunned by Lark’s reaction, firstly to deny responsibility for its release, then to dismiss the media storm as “not newsworthy”.

    No idea.

  53. anon
    3 Aug 12
    9:27 am

  54. I agree with 24. its one thing to make a gross error of judgement, but Mr Lark’s handling of the press has added oxygen to the fire of this sad story.. At what point does a CMO of the largest bank in Australia become arrogant enough to tell a member of the press that something is “un-newsworthy” red rag to a bull anyone?

  55. kraL
    3 Aug 12
    10:06 am

  56. See… it’s not newsworthy

  57. CommBank Customer
    3 Aug 12
    11:04 am

  58. 52 people lost thier lives in the London bombings, including an Australian who was just 28 years old when he died after bravely surviving the initial blast. I find this event and the fact that CommBank acted in such a disrespectful way, very news worthy indeed. I hope that your comments or the banks appalling ad have not reached the family and friends of the Australian who lost his life or indeed others with links to that terrible event.

    If this ad had screened on TV, I can assure you Mr Lark that given the public backlash that would follow , you would suddenly find this event very news worthy indeed. (edited by Mumbrella).

  59. Eric A Blair
    3 Aug 12
    1:59 pm

  60. A brand that is buoyed by it’s own arrogant self importance and that has lost touch with their consumers i.e. real people who Can’t be bothered to be teased / tricked into liking a brand that treats them as salary support.

    This gives the real insight into their thinking.

    And the banks wonder why people don’t like them.

  61. Carole Goldsmith
    3 Aug 12
    2:10 pm

  62. Whoever thought this ad up should be sent to jail for inciting terrorism. All I can say is the image of Commonwealth Bank has dropped to an all time low with this absolutely stupid, insensitive ad. Shame on you Commonwealth Bank ad agency and Comm Bank. Who ever allowed that ad and put it together should be arrested and jailed for terrorism.

  63. thisisme
    3 Aug 12
    2:26 pm

  64. Andy Lark, the bank’s chief marketing and online officer, told B&T: “It was an unapproved video that got released, we’ve pulled it down,”

    Bullshit was it “unapproved” – do CBA honestly think we would believe the old “unapproved” excuse. Pathetic!

  65. Eric A Blair
    3 Aug 12
    4:19 pm

  66. So on-line is on the one hand “unapproved” and out of their control, and on the other it is claimed as a critical part of their “can” marketing offensive.

    Building awareness of on-line work is a core CMO KPI, but not in this case when it goes wrong? To say it was unapproved is insulting.

    If this had been on TV it would have provoked a resignation and public backlash, but on-line is OK and all of a sudden under the radar? I hope that this gets more publicity. The stupidity is staggering.

  67. Fred
    4 Aug 12
    12:54 am

  68. The same thing should have happened to them as if they’d joked about security getting on a plane.

  69. Jeepers
    4 Aug 12
    1:47 pm

  70. “whoever thought this ad up should be sent to jail for inciting terrorism.”

    At least you put your name to such a comment

  71. David
    4 Aug 12
    9:16 pm

  72. Cants