NAB Break Up campaign ‘undermined’ by rate cuts

Bankwest ad by HostBankwest has launched a tactical press campaign that attacks the rate cuts of rival NAB, the bank behind the award-winning Break Up campaign.

The campaign – created by Host – launches as newspapers including The Sydney Morning Herald rounded on NAB for holding back on rate cuts, a move the Herald wrote “appears to undermine NAB’s multimillion-dollar advertising campaign in which the bank declared it had ‘broken up’ with the other major banks”.

The Bankwest ad uses the headline from the SMH story, ‘NAB cuts rates less than RBA, rivals’.

Today, an article in The Daily Telegraph stated that: “Having cast itself as the ‘more give, less take’ bank, NAB chose to take more and give less this week by keeping five basis points of the 25-basis-point Reserve Bank reduction – in contrast to ANZ, Commonwealth and Westpac, which all passed on the full rate cut.”

NAB Break Up, created by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, is arguably Australia’s most successful campaign of the year, having won awards such as the PR grand prix at Cannes and two grand prix at Spikes Asia.

NAB CMO Sandra de Castro, who engineered the campaign, had not returned Mumbrella’s calls at press time for comment.


  1. Rob
    4 Nov 11
    2:17 pm

  2. Well who is surprised that NAB can’t walk the talk? Really, this whole Break-up campaign was a concocted (albeit well-executed) bit of fluff from the beginning, and while it might be considered “the most successful campaign of the year”, well that’s within the industry.

    John and Joan Public are just living their lives and noticing that NAB are a bunch of tools like all the others big banks – no wait, NAB are worse because they passed on less of the rate cut than the other tools. And the rub is that NAB are saying they are not like the others and they offer “more give, less take”. NAB are setting themselves up for a kicking after pushing this break-up message, and the media will be all over it when they don’t deliver what they promise.

    Remember the old quote “nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising”.

  3. Cody
    4 Nov 11
    2:19 pm

  4. I didn’t like those NAB ads from day 1 because as a consumer used to the ways of the big 4 banks, the ads had ZERO credibility. Talk is cheap, and saying “We’re breaking up with the other banks” is meaningless until they prove it over the long term. Once again, actions speak louder than words, and they’ve just cancelled out their own campaign with their greed.

  5. What the
    4 Nov 11
    2:29 pm

  6. errr, I’m not exactly a fan of the big banks but isn’t NAB’s rate cheaper than the others today?

  7. Em
    4 Nov 11
    2:46 pm

  8. Yeah – if you saw the twitter spat about rates between netbank and nab, NAB’s is still cheaper. Fair play to the other ad agencies having a crack at it though.

  9. jibberjabber
    4 Nov 11
    3:11 pm

  10. NAB’s rate was cheapest out the of big four before the RBA cut and I think still is – what’s the problem here?

  11. Facts?
    4 Nov 11
    3:23 pm

  12. Facts facts facts – when has advertising ever been interested in facts?

  13. parala
    4 Nov 11
    3:56 pm

  14. Break up, take half. Seems about right.

  15. Rob
    4 Nov 11
    4:05 pm

  16. @jibberjabber the problem for NAB is they’ve lost control of the big four bank debate and their campaign is being used against them. they should have got on the front foot when they decided to keep some of the RBA rate cut

  17. Serge
    4 Nov 11
    4:17 pm

  18. that NAB’s variable home loan rate is cheaper is completely irrelevant – this message was subsumed by (entirely predictable) reams of bad press highlighting their hypocrisy in giving less and taking more.

    As suspected by some when ‘break-up’ was launched, in most consumers minds, whether rightly or wrongly, NAB has now unequivocally proven that they are no different to to the other big banks

    while most customers never believed they were different in the first place, any who did will trust NAB even less than its competitors

    the ‘break up campaign’ has been a great example of 2 things:

    1. the folly of pursuing a short term tactic that never fitted fit with longer term credible positioning for the business

    t2. yhat even industry insiders can be fooled by a good PR for an advertising/communications campaign. More time has been spent promoting this campaign in trade publications than was spent on its creation, it seems.

  19. Heath
    4 Nov 11
    4:25 pm

  20. I agree with Rob, The BAB ‘Break Up’ campaign was nothing more than well executed transparent rubbish! If the big banks are looking for unique and compelling ways to reach into the hearts and minds and dare I say, the wallets of everyday Australians then all they need do is spend their marketing budgets wisely on providing useful, engaging tools for their target audience rather than blowing mountains of dough on FTA TV BS messaging. A good example of how to do this is the AIMIA award winning iphone app ‘Property Guide’ produced by The White Agency for ComBank.
    Spare us the BS banks and get on with helping us, the consumers, make well informed decisions about borrowing and investing – thats all we ask and it IS that simple!

  21. Serge
    4 Nov 11
    4:25 pm

  22. ps..this is another example of why marketing should at least have dotted line reporting into PR. The Head of Corporate Affairs would only have approved if the bank’s future behaviour was going to be exemplary – which is of course impossible. The blanket press coverage has completely undone any good from the advertising and will turn it into a net negative for NAB.

    It’s harder to imagine a larger FAIL – although Qantas’ recent advertising comes to mind

    these companies must have money to burn…..

  23. Peter Rush
    4 Nov 11
    4:51 pm

  24. All that great work brand thrown away in one corporate decision! Lets hope NAB and its agency realise that none of it can be saved. The public have moved on. And NAB aren’t back where they started before the campaign. No-siree, they’re now the one of the big 4 that tried to bullshit us that they were one of us. OK they’re still the cheapest rate, but they’re about to discover how deep the twin sins of not passing on an interest rate cut, and, pretending to be someone you’re not, cut in the Australian psyche.

  25. Hold your horses
    4 Nov 11
    6:50 pm

  26. There were plenty of naysayers when Break Up launched.

    Fast forward six months from now and I reckon the NAB will still be streaks ahead of the competition. One swallow does not a summer make.

  27. Just asking...
    4 Nov 11
    7:33 pm

  28. Is Bankwest really a ‘rival’ of NAB?
    Or put another way, do you think NAB is losing much sleep over this ‘tactical press campaign’ which seems to comprise of one execution so far – so isn’t really much of a ‘campaign’?

  29. Brendon
    5 Nov 11
    5:26 pm

  30. This ad seems completely out of sync with the style of advertising that BankWest usually undertakes.

    I also think it’s convenient that Comm Bank’s rate doesn’t appear in the BankWest ad… cause… you know… Comm Bank owns BankWest and all.

    Seems to me to be a bit of an attack by Comm Bank under the guise of their friendly WA based subsidiary. Of course, I could be completely wrong…

  31. Grant
    6 Nov 11
    8:47 am

  32. Brendon – having worked for 3 of the big 4 (and several of the “second tier”), I can say with some authority that the big banks are operationally very separate to their subsidiaries.

    While they certainly don’t “attack” their own, they also don’t advertise under the others’ brand. The comm bank team would MUCH rather land a customer than for Bankwest to have them.