Social Media: NAB Break Up Letter

NAB bank have a Valentine’s Day social media campaign running at the moment – encouraging people with a mortgage to “break up” with the other banks. A leaked PR message, Valentine’s breakup, secret videos in the “opposition’s offices”.  Here’s the “break up letter” video. Most of the other videos could sit comfortably in the viral…

NAB bank have a Valentine’s Day social media campaign running at the moment – encouraging people with a mortgage to “break up” with the other banks. A leaked PR message, Valentine’s breakup, secret videos in the “opposition’s offices”.  Here’s the “break up letter” video.

Most of the other videos could sit comfortably in the viral video ad box rather than the social media box except…. well except I think the campaign has jumped the divide.  Let’s have a look at why.

Purpose. Changing banks.

Mortgages are unsexy. Banking is boring. Name me an interesting mortgage ad and I’ll assume you were actually looking for a mortgage at the time. No one else pays any attention unless they are feeling helpless about increasing rates. But rarely enough to do anything about it. I mean, once you have a mortgage with a bank, that’s it for life, right? NAB had a lot to overcome.

Challenge. Way too hard and expensive and what’s the point?

All banks are the same, it’s too hard, too many forms, and expensive exit fees. No one is going to change banks.  We’re a time poor society. Anyway, there’s no difference between the ba$tard$ and in a month, everyone will be back in the same high-fee paying  boat. Can’t be bothered.


Shift perspective from impossible and difficult to possible and normal. Humans are change averse so find a “change” situation they can relate to, and equate changing banks with that. Relationship breakups are hard but you have to find the strength to do it. Someone watched Eat Pray Love and then applied it to banking? Heh. NAB use the human voice very well, this is not a banker talking but a fed up lover. We relate to humans, not banks, so this is exactly on the mark. And given the recent interest rate hikes, timely.

Humour is an invaluable ingredient and when you combine this with a politically incorrect aggressive confrontational approach, the humour mixes with shock. Does NAB dissing the opposition make the world a better place? Do we want Woolies smacking around IGA, Telstra biffing Optus or the local deli slamming the convenience store across the road. Well, no. But we have become a little too averse to debate – strident opposition, vehement disagreements – in our society. If you can’t say it nicely don’t say it at all is all very sweet and conforming but it doesn’t effect change. Thank goodness the internet is changing that.

Social discussions mean that it’s quite likely that your mum will ring you and ask “have you thought about switching your mortgage to NAB, dear? Now would be the time to do it.” and if your mum doesn’t, my mum will. 😛 It’s not just a funny ad but a call to action. I would pay good money (up to $10!!) to find out how many people actually switch in the next month or so.

Finally, NAB are paying exit fees. This alone would not be enough for a campaign. There’s actually nothing in it for the client – they still have to fill in the forms etc. They may not be out of pocket but they don’t gain monetarily (on the face of it) from switching to NAB. Buying customers is a very expensive way of building business but it definitely sweetens the proposition.

I think it’s much easier to walk into your non-NAB bank and say “I’m breaking up with you” rather than “I want to transfer my mortgage”. I suspect a lot of people will at least enquire. I doubt that the other banks are ready to deal with this very effective bolshie campaign. They will probably ignore it, call it a flash in the pan, and wait for it to blow over.

The challenge is, I don’t think even NAB understand how deep this campaign will go, it could change the face of marketing for some time to come. Viral ads, leaked tweets, developing story lines, we’ve seen before. But siding with the customer against their own industry was the smartest move they made. Let’s see what they do with it.

No Confirmation Offered

After many phone calls and emails, no one could confirm what perhaps did or did not happen at three different locations today to people who may or may not be the executives of the CommBank, WestPac and ANZ.

Those crazy kids at NAB.

@dialogcrm says the NAB social media “breaking up campaign” is based on this old ad (Microsoft!)

What do you think?

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  1. The letter is really long, I still find it boring… Glanced at the newpaper ad over someone’s shoulder and thought ‘who would run such a long texty ad’? But I LOVE the Westpac meeting gatecrash! Very Greenpeace… I would share the gatecrash vid but not the letter – stopped listening to the boring VO a few sceonds into it.

  2. I think it’s easy for Marketers to say this is a break through because it moves away from the testimonial type angle and offer based campaigns that so many currently seem to unimaginatively favour. The public on the other hand are savvier than ever and view this as a stunt. A few I’ve overheard have said “Who’d bother reading that long ad?” and “Who cares?”.

    In broadcast news the public see the profits the banks are making at their expense and frustration, and typically this is the sentiment being reflected in Social Media responses.

    Looking across segmented online sentiment, the buzz is coming via publications and professional blogs of marketers/advertising industry/analysts/banking. For the campaign to be effective socially it needs to have a viral effect on their target demographic, not industry cronies.

    I’m still waiting for a banking campaign that it is based on insight drilled down from Social Media sentiment monitors of online word of mouth. True consumer benefit comes from listening to your customers and that can be effectively relayed into multi-platform marketing campaigns. Perhaps in the next year, this will change?

  3. when I read the headline I thought that it meant that NAB was opting out of taking turns with the other three big banks to be the first to announce rate hikes. That is when the Reserve Bank announces an increase in interest rates the first bank out of the blocks to raise their rates cops all the media flack, the other three then quietly raise theirs.

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