ASB swears in True as its lead brand agency

After weeks of speculation, ASB general manager of marketing Shane Evans has confirmed that he has penned a partnership with True.

The independent agency will now pick up from where Saatchi & Saatchi left the brand and will be required to relaunch the bank’s line ‘One Step Ahead’.

This appointment follows on from ASB’s recent appointment of With Collective, and Evans says it’s the next phase in realising the new strategy behind the brand.

“Over the last 12 months, we’ve been evolving our marketing strategy and, in the process, we’ve also looked at what partners we needed,” Evans says.

He says that during a pitch process, True quickly emerged as the partner most suitable for the challenge ahead.  

“We were looking for a creative partner that could really modernise the brand and take it to the next level,” he says.

“When we looked around the marketplace, True really stuck out at the top of the pile because we were incredibly impressed at the quality of work they’d done with brands like Air New Zealand. When we went through the process, they were shoulders ahead of everyone else.”

In taking on the curatorship of the ASB brand, True managing director Steve Kane says the agency will face the dual challenge of giving a nod to the legacy of the ASB brand while simultaneously showcasing the innovation behind modern banking.


“For us, the challenge is to wrap that into a story that’s compelling, accessible and future-proofed,” Kane says.

“The team here has a very clear view of what the brand is and what they want the brand to be. We’ve been given really tight parameters.”

True will take on this responsibility alongside With Collective, which will be working on the data, digital and direct side of the account.

While there will be some areas of overlap, Kane says True has no qualms about collaborating to produce better work.

“You can’t be everything to everybody. You have to focus on what you’re good at and True is very good at brand and emotional storytelling. And the best thing we can do is to partner with other agencies that are like-minded and have a similar goal and approach.”

This sentiment is shared by True owner and executive creative director Craig Pethybridge, who adds: “We’re genuinely looking forward to working with the guys at With Collective. We like working collaboratively with both clients and other agencies alike. We totally get that we’re not the answer to everything. We’ve never claimed that. It’s going to be a fantastic opportunity.”

In starting its partnership with ASB, True has however ended its three-year relationship with ANZ. In its time with ANZ, True worked on the sponsorship side of the business, helping to develop the ‘Dream Big’ initiative, which ran across both netball and cricket.   

“When we entered into this process with ASB, we were very forthright and forthcoming about what we were doing, and they were very respectful of that,” says Kane.

Given much of the ANZ sponsorship work was assigned to True on a project basis, the opportunity to lead the ASB brand is also a stronger commercial opportunity for the agency.

ASB’s appointment of True is effective immediately and the pair expect to release their first work before the end of the year.  

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