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?