Sportsbet challenges CommBank to cancan dance-off to settle copyright dispute

Sportsbet does the cancan

Sportsbet has returned fire in its copyright battle with Commonwealth Bank over the use of imagery and language in the bank’s ‘Can’ ad campaign, with a new offensive that challenges CommBank to a dance-off to settle the dispute.

A few weeks ago, Sportsbet launched an ambush ad that parodied CommBank’s Can campaign. CommBank responded by leaning on YouTube and Facebook to take down the ad on copyright grounds.

The ad is still viewable on Sportsbet’s homepage.

Now the online bookmaker has challenged CommBank to a cancan dance off. If CommBank were to win, Sportsbet says it will agree to delete the parody ad, post the original ‘Ode to Can’ ad on its homepage for 24 hours and donate $50,000 to a charity of the Commonwealth Bank’s choice.

Sportsbet has set up an email address,, in readiness of CommBank’s response to the challenge.

The bookmaker has also placed full-page ads in several daily newspapers, and has organised for the Sportsbet cancan dancers to perform in front of CommBank at 385 Bourke St in Melbourne, at 10am Wednesday 12 September.

Sportsbet spokesman Shaun Anderson said: “We had a great response to our spoof ad and we think people should be able to see it online and have a laugh. A cancan dance off is a pretty fun way to settle our disagreement, but whether the Commonwealth Bank CAN step up to the challenge remains to be seen.”

However, CommBank has declined the invitation.

The bank offered the following response, focusing on its charity work and the importance of intellectual property:

When it comes to giving to our communities, we don’t gamble.

Like all major brands in Australia, we take any infringement or attempt to de-value our intellectual property rights seriously and will act to protect these as appropriate. As such, we advised the Advertising Standards Bureau of certain breaches of the AANA code of ethics regarding the recent Sportsbet ad and related activity on Facebook and YouTube. As a result of the complaints received the offending material was removed, and Sportsbet undertook not to broadcast the ad again.

Given our discussions with the Advertising Standards Bureau on this matter, it would be inappropriate for us to respond to Sportsbet’s advertisement today.

Commonwealth Bank is committed to make a positive difference around Australia in the communities in which we operate by investing in local initiatives and provides substantial support to many organisations. During our recent Centenary Celebrations, the Group committed an extra $100 million to community initiatives over the next 10 years. A recent example of our support was the announcement of the recipients of our 2012 Community Grants program. 244 grants have been awarded to organisations across the country that support the health and wellbeing of children, with an overall total of $2 million awarded by the Group.

Should Sportsbet wish to match our substantial contributions to Australian communities we would encourage them to do so while respecting the intellectual property of others.

In response to CommBank’s statement, Sportsbet marketing director Barni Evans told Mumbrella: “That seems different to the image of themselves they portray in their advertising.”


  1. goodone
    12 Sep 12
    12:32 pm

  2. ah man that is awesome. I take my hat of to Sportsbet.

  3. Matt C
    12 Sep 12
    12:45 pm

  4. CBA – Stop being so bloody boring and say something interesting for once

  5. CAN'T beat that
    12 Sep 12
    12:45 pm

  6. well played Sportsbet, well played indeed.

  7. Raj
    12 Sep 12
    12:51 pm

  8. Who do people hate more than banks? That’s right, online gaming companies. Absolute bottom feeders.

  9. Adrian
    12 Sep 12
    1:11 pm

  10. Today I will be opening a Sportsbet account and moving my money out of Comm bank. Advertising helps me decide.

  11. Angus
    12 Sep 12
    1:24 pm

  12. I agree Raj. Also when did ‘gambling’ become ‘gaming’ – nifty little wordplay to make it more acceptable.

  13. Tom
    12 Sep 12
    1:25 pm

  14. You can’t do that Sportsbet!

  15. Paul the freelance writer
    12 Sep 12
    1:33 pm

  16. Well played, CommBank. Ball over the fence with a perfectly straight bat.

  17. Old Leo guy
    12 Sep 12
    1:37 pm

  18. I just don’t get this.why are they challenging a bank?
    If they were taking on the tab or Tom waterhouse I would understand.full pages in the dailies cost a lot.
    What’s the expected roi?truly weird.

  19. Clap clap
    12 Sep 12
    1:38 pm

  20. Haha I love you SportsBet, and that’s coming from a CommBank customer who DOESN’T gamble. Clappity clap.

  21. CatintheHat
    12 Sep 12
    1:41 pm

  22. Love the parody ad immensely but I think the CBA is a pretty soft target with the dance off idea. An Australian bank will never engage with a gambling company on something like this. Great way to generate some more PR by making the bank look, well look like a bank.

  23. Anonymous
    12 Sep 12
    1:45 pm

  24. I like how CBA doesn’t pass up the chance to brag about their donations. It’s like meeting someone at a party who kept loudly proclaiming “I gave $10 to World Vision, I am a wonderful person!” over and over. And then asked if you could help spread the news.

  25. Jessica
    12 Sep 12
    1:48 pm

  26. Awesome.

  27. Doug
    12 Sep 12
    1:49 pm

  28. uummm gambling with money… isnt that what the banks do, but on an international scale?

  29. CANcerous bankers!
    12 Sep 12
    1:51 pm

  30. Who made the Commonwealth Bank god? Good on you Sportsbet for being another one to take on these, thieving, lying, unscrupulous bankers!

  31. Anonymous
    12 Sep 12
    2:25 pm

  32. gaming brands and banks, both rotten

  33. Kev
    12 Sep 12
    2:27 pm

  34. w00t go sportsbet!
    commbank CAN STFU. Sick of seeing their ‘can’ ads all over the internet. I swear I see the same boring ad at least 20 times a day. Heard of frequency capping?!?!?! The more I see your pre-rolls and display ads the more I hate your bank and your marketing team. Do they not realise how many people they’re pissing off by playing the same bloody ad over and over again?!

  35. Michelle
    12 Sep 12
    2:34 pm

  36. Yeah. “Sorry love I didn’t gamble away this week’s housekeeping money I ‘gamed’ it away.” That’ll make a lot of wives and hungry kids feel a whole lot better.

  37. Surry Hills
    12 Sep 12
    2:34 pm

  38. I actually think Sportsbet’s spoof ads were better than the original Toni Collette CBA ads. I am sad that CBA decided against the CANCAN – especially when they are trying to be the leaders in innovative ways to reach the youth market. Today, they lost that appeal by being a plain old boring conservative bank, yet again…

  39. Nick
    12 Sep 12
    2:41 pm

  40. CBA should reply with a parody ad displaying how deceitful and moneyhungry Sportsbet is. At least CBA directors dont go to sleep with the communities blood on their hands.

  41. Officer Krupke
    12 Sep 12
    2:49 pm

  42. when did gambling suddenly become ‘gaming’?
    whatever you call it the impact on those who can least afford it is tragic.

  43. AdGrunt
    12 Sep 12
    2:50 pm

  44. @Doug – precisely.

    I’m also unclear on what aspect of copyright law they are relying on. The word “can’t” can’t be copyrighted, the typeface is mundane and they aren’t passing themself off as a bank.

    I’m similarly baffled about what the ASB are supposed to do.

    CBA – get better spin-doctors.

  45. Easter Egg
    12 Sep 12
    3:02 pm

  46. The Sportsbet ad finishes with a seemingly polite “See you next Tuesday?”. It’s worth looking up the hidden meaning :)

  47. RM
    12 Sep 12
    5:38 pm

  48. Hats off to Sportsbet for taking it up to the big guys and being true to brand with a fair go wager! CBA response predictable and boring.

  49. Hareeba
    12 Sep 12
    7:25 pm

  50. Whilst we are debating this humorous stoush how about some real truths about Sportsbet and what you CAN and what you CAN’T?

    You CAN bet with them so long as you lose.

    You CAN’T bet more than peanuts if they think you CAN beat them.

    You CAN’T make them abide by the standard requirement to accept a bet on a horse to win at least $1,000.

    Hundreds of punters all around Australia CAN’T see any humour Sportsbet’s behaviour.

  51. Pot Kettle Black
    13 Sep 12
    12:58 am

  52. CBA taking the high ground on a gaming company – makes you laugh.
    CBA 100% owns Commsec the market leader in online trading which they earned over 350m in revenue last year from customers gambling on share prices.

  53. Brentwallac
    13 Sep 12
    10:35 am

  54. There’s a significant difference between gaming and gambling. Gambling is based on chance, gaming is based on skill (and I’m not talking in a ‘video game’ sense). For Sportsbet to establish themselves as people who see gambling as gaming is somewhat false.

    It’s basic marketing – gaming = fun, skill-based, individual has control. Gambling = Based on chance, no control for the individual.

    CBA should shoot back with an ad with a guy telling his wife he’s invested their life-savings into Sportsbet.

    Tag line – “Just because you Can, doesn’t mean you should.”

  55. Santam v Nandos
    13 Sep 12
    5:17 pm

  56. This is how you respond:

    And people might even like you for it. Even if you’re a bank.

  57. Intellectual Mortgage Brokers
    14 Sep 12
    12:44 pm

  58. On their ‘copyright infringement’ issue, I think an important point needs to be made.

    British Telecom, back in about 99, did the exact same campaign via M&C Saatchi London. Read all about it here:


    Now if the Commonwealth Bank has any degree of integrity, it should pull it’s whole can/can’t positioning immediately. Otherwise, they’re guilty on the one hand of stating how important intellectual property is, while on the other hand, being the guilty party by stealing their entire campaign from another company. And not a small company at that.

    Rest in pieces CBA.