ANZ has been a major supporter of the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) community over the last few years, most notably through the highly awarded 'GAYTM' campaign in 2015 and 2016 as well as its continued sponsorship of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and Auckland Pride Festival.
Now, the bank is further concretising its commitment to the cause with a new spot drawing attention to the discomfort LGBTI couples often feel when holding hands in public.
Developed through a collaborative effort between TBWA Melbourne and Auckland, the spot calls on LGBTI couples to 'hold tight' when they're worried about what others might think of them holding hands.
The creative in the ad was built on the insight that the LGBTI community in New Zealand is more than twice as likely (39 percent of respondents) than non-LGBTI (18 percent) to feel uncomfortable holding hands in public.
These findings come from a study conducted by Galaxy Research, which questioned 504 New Zealanders on hand-holding in public.
Disconcertingly, 48 percent of LGBTI respondents cited a negative response from others as the leading reason why they felt self-conscious while holding hands. And this isn't without good reason, as almost a third (31 percent) of LGBTI respondents had been made to feel uncomfortable because of a negative response from others.
ANZ managing director of retail and business banking and ANZ NZ Pride network sponsor Antonia Watson says the campaign aims to draw attention to the fact that some members of the community have difficulty showing even the simplest outward expression.
“While most Kiwis take holding hands in public for granted, members of our LGBTI community feel judged doing so,” she says.
“We’ve launched this new #HoldTight initiative so we can get behind our LGBTI staff, customers and community to share our support for equality. It also sends a powerful message to our staff that we want them to be true to themselves at work."
Watson hopes that this message will also resonate beyond the bank and appeal to the broader public.
“We’re hoping Kiwis jump on board the campaign and demonstrate how we live in an accepting and open society that’s proud to celebrate diversity,” she says.
Of course, ANZ isn't the only corporate to throw its weight behind a social cause.
Brands across the industry have been jumping onto the activism bandwagon in recent years—so much so, that TheGuardian declared in early February that "sex doesn't sell anymore, activism does". It's a narrative that's also been picked up byThe New Yorker and the The New York Times, all of which contributes to consumers wisening up on inauthentic attempts by brands to latch onto a cause that's in vogue.
Research conducted by San Francisco agency Traction found that consumers are now experiencing "cause fatigue," with 41 percent somewhat agreeing that "cause marketing is just spin" and almost a quarter finding it annoying.
One thing that ANZ does have in its favour, however, is that it has made a long-term commitment to this cause, supporting it by spreading awareness and sponsoring key events for over a decade. Viewed in a context where it took until 2001 for the Netherlands to became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage and that it is still not legal in Australia, it's clear that ANZ took a bold stance in deciding to support this cause for so long.
In this sense, it's not a case of a brand hopping onto the latest fad, but rather sticking with it through conservative criticism and vandalised GAYTMs. In fact, long before the GAYTMs even hit the scene, the bank was informally referred to as GAYNZ at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras—brand associations don't come much more authentic than that.
As it turns out, the close affiliation ANZ has with the LGBTI community might also make commercial sense, with research from Roy Morgan in 2016 showing that gay men and women tend to be bigger spenders than their straight counterparts.
Findings such as these have led to the coining of the phrase 'pink dollar', in reference to the commercial opportunity that lies with the gay community. But while anecdotal evidence suggests the gay community has more disposable income, a Freakonomics podcast aired last year addressing the question of whether gay men are rich found that when comparing gay and straight people with the same education level, those who identified as gay actually earned less.
Interestingly, these findings correspond with those published in the Roy Morgan study.
"Contrary to clichés of childless gay couples being flush with cash, Australian men who identify as homosexual earn a lower average income than straight men (AU$44,000 vs AU$57,000 per anum), with a similar discrepancy between gay ($31,000) and straight ($36,000) women," said Norman Morris, industry communications director at Roy Morgan Research.
“[But] this doesn’t stop them spending up on almost all sub-categories of outerwear: for example, in an average four weeks, a gay man who buys a suit will spend about AU$441, a substantially higher amount than the AU$351 spent by straight men. Meanwhile, the average gay woman spends around AU$89 on women’s skirt/s, compared with AU$48 for straight women. [And] the power of the pink dollar stretches beyond clothing: gay Australians spend higher-than-average amounts on several other retail categories such as homewares, small electrical goods, personal entertainment, cameras, and sporting equipment."
As lucrative an opportunity this might seem, it's worth remembering that the LGBTI community comprises only a small percentage of the overall population of the country. However, what ANZ does in celebrating gay culture is align its brand with the shifting mores of its broader target market.
Public attitudes toward homosexuality have become much more accepting as time has progressed, with a recent study by Statistics New Zealand showing that over three-quarters of New Zealanders would be comfortable living next door to an LGBTI person. And with each passing generation, this proportion is only expected to grow. One thing that's certain is that ANZ is making sure that its brand is not only on the right side of recent history but also in the right place to appeal to as broad a target market as possible.