Ex CommBank marketing boss – sack the agency for their lazy, uncampaignable ads

The former marketing boss of Commonwealth Bank of Australia has opened fire on the company’s marketing position, labelling it shallow and lazy and calling for the company to fire its agency, the US-based Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.  

In an article in today’s Australian, Graham Ford who was the CBA’s marketing chief until an abrupt departure in 2003, laid into the bank’s marketing position which was first unveiled more than two years ago. It was unclear in the piece on why Ford, now ROI director at Group Momentum, has chosen this moment to make his views known.

Goodby Silverstein was hired by CBA after a global pitch featuring some of the world’s top agencies led by chief marketing officer Mark Buckman. In his piece, Ford said:

“So what has this high-profile and well-credentialled agency delivered, apart from a significant increase in frequent flyer points? And what exactly was their advertising idea? My guess is it’s something like this: “We will show American advertising experts whose ideas lack knowledge of anything Australian — well, actually anything — to allow us, the CBA, and the CBA staff to stand up for the Australian customer and tell them what the CBA’s fantastic, new and exciting solutions are in a uniquely humorous way.”

In the article, Ford claimed the position of the ads was based on “flawed thinking”.

He criticised BMF, which also works on the account for CommBank, too – describing its work as “scattergun and tactical”.

But he reserved the toughest criticism for Goodby Silverstein saying:

“I feel the work is shallow; the thinking and execution of it is lazy and most damningly, it is not based on, or executed to, a campaignable idea.

“When I was discussing this with a fellow marketer recently, she said her problem with the ads was that she was just waiting for the senior fictional CBA marketer portrayed in the ads to wise up and fire the US agency for serial incompetency. I had to admit I had the same idea for the non-fictional one.”

Buckman declined to comment.


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