How bold marketing and a sense of humour brought ANZ closer to its customers

Over the past four years, ANZ Bank has transformed from a traditionally conservative brand in lock march with its rivals to a business embracing social issues, big ideas and a willingness to fail. Mumbrella goes behind the scenes to see what makes ANZ tick.

When ANZ sprung a pair of blinged-up ATMs onto an unsuspecting public in Sydney’s Oxford Street to celebrate the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, in 2014, the world took notice. It was two years after the bank had shifted its internal thinking about marketing and began a reveal that has continued ever since, winning awards and capturing customers.

Matt Boss, Carolyn Bendall and Louise Eyres

Matt Boss, Carolyn Bendall and Louise Eyres

It’s a drive that has been led by marketing through a series of creative and occasionally controversial initiatives that have helped forge a connection with consumers and led to ANZ’s marketing team being named Marketing Team of the Year 2016 at The Mumbrella Awards.

Since taking the reigns four years ago, ANZ’s managing director – products and marketing, Matt Boss, has been charged with transforming the way the brand connects with consumers.GAYNZ

“My role is to make sure we are rowing in one direction – (that) marketing in the bank fits hand-in-glove with the other parts. Making sure things are integrated,” Boss said of his role in guiding ANZ’s marketing.

“We try to have a bit of fun and try not to be too serious. I think, for me, (part of the job) is making sure we don’t take ourselves too seriously, making sure that (the work) is relevant and works, and to hold ourselves to a standard.”

Boss said that having the “freedom to fail” was another vital element to the bank’s success.

“I’d like to say that one of our core strengths is we are great at failure,” Boss said.

Boss takes inspiration from a wide range of sources, but admits that his favourite ad of all time was the relaunch of Apple after Steve Jobs made a triumphant return to the company with the ‘Think Different’ campaign, ‘Here’s to the crazy ones’.

It’s an approach he urges his team to take, looking to shows such as Cannes, where ANZ won 14 Lions in the last 3 years, to see how brands are thinking differently.

While creative ideas are the foundation of how Boss has approached the role, the data and the how it will empower consumers and inform the business is where he is now focused.

Developments such as Apple Pay, which ANZ led the charge with in Australia by making it available through customers’ smart phones, the ANZ Travel Card, which provided customers with currency freedom while overseas, and finding better ways to work with small business, have all been ways that marketing has played a role at the bank.

But when it comes to the success of the bank in recent years, Boss is quick to credit his close-knit team as a key factor in how far it has come.ANZ Apple Pay

“For any of the positive results I get the least amount of credit. My role is to help the team. I’m unbelievably pleased and proud of what we have been able to accomplish.’

Boss also credits the partnership with Whybin/TBWA as being crucial to the success of the bank and he highlights the bank’s brave move to support the category-busting GAYTM cash-dispensing machines which saw ANZ launched in support of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

“The marketing four years ago, compared with what we do now, is really, really different,” Boss said.

Louise Eyres, ANZ’s group general manager of marketing, says the success has also been driven by a regional approach that allows fresh ideas to be developed.

“One of the elements for ANZ is we do have a marketing approach that is across multiple geographies and across multiple segments,” Eyres said.

“So we work as a team across five different geographies, sharing ideas, sharing input and really cross-fertilising ideas from across those geographies, and that gives us a chance to tap into our partner network across the regions.

“One of the elements I think we are strong at is seeking out the expertise amongst our agency partners, whether it’s creative, media, sponsorship or digital, and being able to bring the best leaders – the best to bear on our business.

“We can ‘look out’ before we bring in and that gives us a lot of confidence to execute quite bold activities,” Eyres said.

Examples of the diversity of ANZ’s approach ranges from its use of tennis star Novak Djokovic as an ambassador, its womens’ initiative and award-winning PR campaign supporting equal pay for women plus the more recent public art project using Archibald Prize artists to paint oversized murals of notable Australians.

“Carolyn Bendall, head of marketing for ANZ’s Australia division, said setting clear priorities but still being bold enough to push the envelope was an important factor in the success the bank had enjoyed.

“I think we have, quite intentionally, tried to – and I know it’s an overused word – ‘disrupt’ things to a large degree,” Bendall said.

“A big fin-services company like ours is quite complex – many product lines, many customer segments and many distribution channels, so first and foremost the way we try to tackle it and organise ourselves in the Australian marketing team is to be very clear on what our priorities are and what the end goals are.”

Bendall cited the example of ANZ’s street art project along with other projects as being emblematic of the goal of increasing the brand’s presence and enabling more people to have an experience of the ANZ brand, saying it was “a very clearly articulated goal”.

“It enables us to set some product targets that go beyond just product sales or customer acquisition,” she said.

“We have been empowered and we have deliberately empowered our marketers and our agency partners to help us achieve some of those objectives.”

Eyres said taking the longer term view was also important.

“We have taken very long-term positions on a number of marketing activities. People talk about ‘having conviction and not causes’ and I think that’s definitely been a hallmark of ANZ marketing,” Eyres said.

“When you think of the Sydney initiatives, the NSW initiatives, the diversity and inclusion program, the Women’s Agenda, these are all multi-year programs that we have been committed to, year-on-year, and creatively strengthened as platforms that we firmly believe in as a business.”

Bendall said creating a variety of different experiences was critical to the way the bank connected with customers at different levels.

“It has been very deliberate, having a very distinct focus around what is the customer experience,” she said.

“If it’s a first or maybe infrequent experience of the ANZ brand, what is it we are trying to convey? As in many categories the overall user experience we know these days is going to be as influential, in some cases more influential in terms of brand preference and purchase intent than a rational product proposition.”

An example is in the home loan market where the bank has built a platform around being “buy ready” and making consumers feel empowered and in control.

“That is much more of an experience and we are trying to deliver emotions like confidence and being in control as much as we are delivering a rational product solution at the end of it,” Bendall said.

Experiences such as the GayNZ Branch and the three-storey high interactive digital wall at ANZ’s Martin Place branch are extreme examples of the sorts of experiences ANZ is delivering.ANZ Bank digital garden

“You can have a fair bit of fun with it,” Bendall said. “The Mardi Gras really was a perfect canvas for us to have a bit of fun and help bring a personality to our brand.”

For Boss, the future looks bright and challenging as he looks to the next steps.

“Behind the scenes we are getting better and better at being data-driven,” Boss said.

“But the biggest thing for me is ‘how do we get more data-driven?’. We will keep doing the headline stuff but I want more and more of the execution to be personalised and local.”

Much remains on the horizon, not the least of which will be the influence of the ANZ’s latest recruit, new head of digital, former Google Australia boss, Maile Carnegie, who recently joined the team.

For ANZ, if the past four years are any measure, the next four won’t be dull or safe.


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