03 May 2007

Commbank takes its brand offshore.

In a move not reminiscent of the Coles Group (see DIFFUSIONblog 4 September 06: Is McCann set to give Coles a Walmart?) Australia's Commonwealth Bank has abandoned the creative work of its traditional Australian agencies and moved to US west coast agency, Goody Silverstein.

The move, reported this week in the Sydney Morning Herald, is certain to raise the hackles of incumbents STW and probably most other agencies in Australia.

More interestingly was the Herald columnists' assertion that "Australian companies (spell A_D_V_E_R_T_I_S_I_N_G) have for so long lacked any imagination or will to back interesting and engaging advertising and the ability of the communications sector to propose anything marginally outside of the predictable is remote."

Certainly that's been DIFFUSION's recent experience of adland as it seeks to perpetuate a mythic status as marginal thinkers and strategists. In fact, what we have seen is that most agencies seem content to rest on poor stale concepts and ideas and will not look for people outside the industry to change this. So, who can blame Commbank?

Just ask Optus, Singtel's Australian telecomms arm. There about to do the same thing to their Australian agencies for much the same reason. M and C Saatchi is likely to get the shove, and not without reason. Optus' "animals" were being used when I worked for Cable and Wireless in London, which dates from the time when Optus was owned by the former global carrier. So perhaps they need to be looking further afield or agencies in Australia need to work a lot harder?

The SMH doesn't let matters rest there. They put the boot in, describing senior marketing staff in Australia as "creatively retarded marketing managers". There's something in that as the dearth of great creative and well thought out brand strategy in this country is much the fault of clients as it is of agencies. Have a good look around at how they recruit senior marketing appointments. It's all through, in most cases, headhunters who work to set formulas and like their clients, rarely go outside the "predictable".

You reap what you sew.

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