Westpac forced to remove ‘banana’ video following backlash

Westpac has been forced to remove an animated video on its website comparing its interest rate rise to the cost of bananas.  

A spokeswoman for the bank said: “Following the feedback we have received today we have removed the video from our customer information site on the rate change.”

The video was originally created for staff to help understand the changes in the economic environment as a consequence of the global financial crisis.

Westpac then made the decision to send the video out in an email to customers on Monday. It followed the bank’s move to lift its standard variable mortgage rate by 45 basis points last week – nearly double the Reserve Bank’s 25-basis-point increase earlier that same day.

The voice over in the video tells the story of when a storm damaged crops, diminishing the supply of bananas, the price of the fruit went up which in turn meant that the cost of a banana smoothie had to go up by 50 cents.

“Our staff found it very useful in the last few months to understand the complex issue of funding and some of them asked to share it with some of their customers who had been asking similar questions. Again the feedback we received was that it helped with their understanding,” the spokeswoman said.

But the video has been criticised for being “condescending”, with Prime Minster Kevin Rudd also weighing in on the issue, telling ABC Radio in Townsville “I think Westpac should have a long hard look at itself”.

The video was developed by a digital supplier which the bank has declined to name.

Westpac’s ad agency The Campaign Palace was not involved in the process.

Comments


  1. KerryJ
    9 Dec 09
    2:49 pm

  2. Did the banana council object to its product being linked to ammoral, greedy organisations who feel they have a right to continue an unrealistic upward trend in profits at the expense of their most vulnerable customers?

  3. Stilgherrian
    9 Dec 09
    2:51 pm

  4. Well that makes Westpac look even more stupid now. Take the video off your own website, sure, but it’s already out there in the wild. You can’t pretend it didn’t happen.

  5. Simon
    9 Dec 09
    2:53 pm

  6. Come on, own up, who produced the vid??

    Scary that Westpac’s (a bank you can trust, right?) staff need a video like that to understand how the business they work for makes money…

  7. Milorad
    9 Dec 09
    3:02 pm

  8. It doesn’t matter who produced it. Westpac made the decision to release it, therefore endorsing the content.

    The maker of the video’s only crime is feeling a bit frustrated with joe average failing to grasp matters at hand, and expressing that frustration unprofessionally, by producing a condescending children’s video.

    It’s a FAR worse act to then make it public, applying that same attitude to one’s customers.

  9. Matt Burgess
    9 Dec 09
    3:42 pm

  10. “Well that makes Westpac look even more stupid now. Take the video off your own website, sure, but it’s already out there in the wild. You can’t pretend it didn’t happen.”

    @Stilgherrian,
    Not sure how you got to that statement, considering nowhere in the statement did they say anything past “we have removed the video from our customer information site on the rate change”. Nothing in the above statement seems to give the impression that they are under the illusion the video completely disappears now…

  11. Ripe Stuff
    9 Dec 09
    3:50 pm

  12. Kerry J – it’s certainly been a high profile year for bananas …perhaps the banana council should shift focus & demand industry royalties for “lending” their brand to such high profile campaigns

  13. Stilgherrian
    9 Dec 09
    3:50 pm

  14. @Matt Burgess: I only meant that removing it from their own website won’t prevent people seeing it. Indeed, it’ll help spread it faster. Streisand Effect, it’s called.

  15. Matt Burgess
    9 Dec 09
    3:53 pm

  16. @Stilgherrian,
    Agreed on the fact that people will still see it, and undoubtedly it’s going to spread. But even though I’m in no way a Westpac supporter in all this, just took issue with the “Well that makes Westpac look even more stupid now” statement… I mean, really, they could hardly *not* take it down, could they? :)

  17. Ripe Stuff
    9 Dec 09
    3:58 pm

  18. Matt & Stilgherrian … get a room

  19. Stilgherrian
    9 Dec 09
    3:59 pm

  20. @Matt Burgess: Mayhaps. Still, another and far bolder approach would be to leave it there and do a Kraft. Ask for better metaphors than bananas. Except for the slight problem that the extra interest rate rise seems to be about as popular as syphilis.

  21. Westpac - more like Westcrap
    9 Dec 09
    4:01 pm

  22. I didn’t realise that Westpac outsourced their CRM work to the lovely Grade 4 kids at South Sydney high

  23. Prue
    9 Dec 09
    6:06 pm

  24. Oh Tim! Just saw your comment on Seven News. “Tim Fellowes – marketing expert”

    tee hee.

  25. Al
    10 Dec 09
    9:40 am

  26. Bananas belong to everyone – they’re not a brand. They’re you and me.

  27. Simon T
    10 Dec 09
    12:30 pm

  28. Has anyone seen the original video they’ve attempted to rip off?
    http://vimeo.com/3261363

    Good find by http://twitter.com/sammi77

    PS I don’t really care about the vid, are they still over raising their rates?

  29. chook
    10 Dec 09
    5:38 pm

  30. “Our staff found it very useful in the last few months to understand the complex issue of funding…” Shit and they are looking after my money. HELP.

  31. David@luvyawork
    10 Dec 09
    6:05 pm

  32. Damage done. The scab is still there and the blood still oozes out into the world.

    They’d have been better off leaving it there, admitting they cocked up bad, read the need wrong, sending a bunch of Coffs Harbour’s finest to every customer who got nailed first hand with this trash along with a next month at old rates promo, and moving on.

    That advice was free, Gail. Any further though will be at my normal hourly rate.

  33. Caroline
    11 Dec 09
    5:41 am

  34. Ha this is such a joke. They were in Circa in St Kilda the other night for a $35,000 Christmas party.

  35. Andrew
    11 Dec 09
    1:02 pm

  36. Someone (people claiming it is John Safran, but I’m not so sure) has reworked the original Westpac vid – perhaps a little closer to the truth http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDL6vFtj-gE

  37. mumbrella
    11 Dec 09
    1:30 pm

  38. Thanks, Andrew – that was worth a separate posintg of its own.

    Cheers,

    Tim – Mumbrella

  39. steve
    11 Dec 09
    4:55 pm

  40. “some of them asked to share it with some of their customers ” -> So now it was really the pleb level westpac staff’s idea to release an abstract kiddie’s view of the banking system to the public hey? of course it was, and im sure you’ll make them pay, like your customers do. – and the greedy bankers and senior management wash their hands of it. Horrible. Just horrible.

  41. Joe
    15 Dec 09
    8:56 pm

  42. The marketing and production company who conceived the AD, Sydney based Spinifex Group, as also ducking for cover. Not great for them at all!

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