SBS bank has introduced Kiwi audiences to a Kiwi couple, Eric and Sandra, who are randomly interrupted by luminescent text featuring messages from the bank.
For the relatively small bank headquartered in Invercargill, this bold creative spot, developed by Guy Pask from Double Lux Creative and Assembly, comes as something of surprise.
Phil Jamieson, the general manager of strategy and marketing at SBS Bank, says that this ad forms part of a broader strategy by the bank to modernise its public image.
“Our brand is still very much based in trust and reliability and our focus remains on residential markets. That all remains at the core of what we’re doing, but this is just a more contemporary approach.”
In addition to releasing the new TVC, Jamieson says the bank has refreshed the architecture of its physical network, changed its brand livery and updated its online identity.
“We’re 146 years young,” says Jamieson of the bank that was founded in 1869.
“We have a very stable past and we’re now looking to build on that.”
He says the key point of difference of SBS lies in the “mutuality of the organisation,” in that it’s owned by members rather than a group of shareholders.
Jameson says SBS currently has around 70,000 to 80,000 customers, but adds that this expands to around 150,000 when the broader SBS Group—made up of Fanz, Southsure Assurance and Finance Now—is taken into account.
He says the bank has growth ambitions, and this is part of the reason why they decided to go for a quirkier creative approach with the TV campaign.
“We wanted it to be slightly offbeat. As a challenger brand, we don’t have the share of voice of the bigger players, so we needed the ad to cut through and translate across different channels.”
It isn’t uncommon to see big brand ads from the major brands, but Jamieson says SBS isn’t in a position of focusing exclusively on branding and was therefore required to balance the storytelling with a reference to price.
“When you have to stretch your marketing budget, you can’t just push out a big brand campaign,” he says.
Jamieson also says that SBS wanted an execution versatile enough to be updated with new offers or deals without interfering with the narrative of the story—something that is clearly possible in the ad developed by Pusk and Assembly.
The new campaign also comes at a time when SBS is looking to tap into the Auckland market, despite the fact that none of its 16 branches are located in the city (SBS does have mobile mortgage managers in the region).
The emergence of digital communications, says Jamieson, has shifted the way many people bank.
“Given the changing nature of banking, you don’t necessarily need a physical presence,” he says.
Jamieson says that there will always be people who prefer the bricks-and-mortar banking experience, but that many customers are also becoming increasingly comfortable doing their banking through digital channels.
He says this shift has also presented opportunity for challenger brands to tap into markets where they might not have a physical presence—something that would’ve been very difficult to do in the past.