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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.

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