Captains of industriousness: young Kiwi boundary pushers help Kiwibank celebrate double figures—UPDATED

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When Kiwibank was launched in 2002, there were plenty of doubters. But, according to its new website, 804,221 customers have signed up to the bank in its first ten years and to celebrate the milestone it’s launched a new campaign featuring a few other adventurous and industrious Kiwi ten-year-olds. 

Ironically, given it features a bunch of kids flouting rules (wait for the moaners to see the kid jumping off the rock), Ogilvy’s campaign is a bit more grown-up and serious than some of the bank’s quirkier previous efforts, and there are no llamas, green smart cars called Raymond or explicit ‘watch out for the big bad Aussie banks’ warnings to be seen.

Of course, there are still plenty of challenger brand metaphors and patriotic cues, but there’s an increased focus on social justice and standing up for what’s right, something Jim Anderton, the driving force behind the bank’s establishment, has been big on from the outset.

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Kiwibank has also been big on trying to snatch customers from the big Aussie owned banks and has actively communicated to consumers how easy it is to switch (the most obvious example of that was the recent Green Ops campaign). And it seems to have worked. According to Wikipedia: “Kiwibank’s success is reflected primarily in its signup rate for new customers of over 300 new organisations and individuals per day (about 2100 per week). Within the New Zealand financial institution context this is a significant figure: for the ‘Big Five’ retail banks (ANZ/National Bank, ASB, Westpac, BNZ), a typical year will result in a 0.2% increase or decrease in market share (deposit + lending values rather than number of customers).”

In a similar approach to the recent Mercury Energy campaign, the ad also features a new version of Neil Finn’s track ‘Can You Hear Us?’, which was recorded by Neil Finn and Jeremy Redmore from Midnight Youth.

Users can download it for free and each time they do Kiwibank will make a donation to the New Zealand Music Foundation (for the first 20,000 downloads).

In another charitable gesture, it also decided to reward New Zealand commuters in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch—and anyone venturing int a Kiwibank branch—with some Random Acts of Kindness.

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Here’s what Dennis Carroll, Ogilvy’s group account director on Kiwibank in Wellington said:

The brief was specific to Kiwibank’s 10th anniversary and was in a lot of ways an opportunity for the bank to renew its vows with the country it’s devoted to.

Gone is Raymond (the green smart car), the outspoken little Kiwi battler taking the fight to the Aussie banks. The new campaign sees a maturing of the brand – but rest assured its challenger ethos is still alive and well.

Kiwibank will never lose its courage to stand up for what’s important to the people of this country. At Ogilvy we were looking for a sense of cause – one that we would all march for, an anthem, something that connects directly with the Kiwi in us and makes us feel proud be New Zealanders.

The creative leads on the campaign were Creative Directors Damon O’Leary and David Nash. The TV production was managed by Amanda Kabel, Head TV Production at Ogilvy.

The soundtrack was a re-recording of Neil Finn’s original track by musical composers Michael O’Neal and Peter van der Fluit and producer Tamara O’Neal, all of Liquid Studios.

Getting Neil Finn and his team across the line, allowing his music to feature in the campaign is a major coup – and wouldn’t have happened without the efforts of Paul McLaney of Mushroom Music, Neil’s music label.

And here’s some more official guff:

Developed with Ogilvy, the TVC centres around a group of 10-year-old Kiwis pledging what they’ll stand for, set to the soundtrack of Finn’s song “Can You Hear Us?” re-recorded by Jeremy Redmore of Midnight Youth, and overseen by Neil Finn himself.

Nicky Ashton, Head of Marketing for Kiwibank, says that Neil Finn’s involvement in the campaign is “a real coup”, as it’s the first time the iconic Kiwi songwriter has ever agreed to lend one of his tracks to a commercial entity.

Neil is a patron of the recently established New Zealand Music Foundation, a not-for-profit charitable trust that funds projects enriching the lives of New Zealanders in need through music.

Kiwibank and Finn have agreed that all the proceeds from the first 20,000 downloads of the soundtrack – to be available exclusively on the Kiwibank website – will go to The NZ Music Foundation.

Ms Ashton says the campaign aims to give voice to Kiwibank’s devotion to New Zealand as a nation, and its call for Kiwis to “back our own”.

“Neil, like Kiwibank, is a devoted Kiwi who shares similar views on this country and backing our own for the good of all New Zealanders. We are taking this opportunity on our 10th anniversary to renew our vow to stand up for New Zealanders who demand respect, better experiences, products, services and attitudes.”

“By involving these kids who have grown up with Kiwibank, we were keen to channel their unbridled optimism and their cheeky, lovable devotion to the cause.”

Ashton says Kiwibank has altered the banking landscape over the past decade, with many of its initiatives now accepted as industry standard, such as fee-free transaction accounts, reduced service and exception fees, highly competitive lending rates and bank ‘switching’.

“After a decade of success and growth, this campaign shows Kiwibank’s challenger spirit is alive and well.”


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