Marketer of the Year: Ian Moody

In recessionary times, hunkering down and slashing spending seems to be the only logical option. But as study after study has shown, the businesses and brands that up their marketing activity are generally the ones that gain the most ground when things pick up. It seems counter-intuitive. So convincing those holding the purse strings that it’s the right thing to do requires a level of confidence, sure footedness and, undoubtedly, persuasion from those in the marketing team. And one man who obviously has all those attributes and many of the other hallmarks exhibited by previous Colmar Brunton Marketer of the Year award winners is Westpac’s head of marketing—and soon to be BNZ’s head of brand—Ian Moody. 

At a time when most other banks—and even Westpac in Australia—pulled back and stopped lending because of bad debts, Moody, a trained teacher who worked with Clear, AIM, Mercury Energy and Southern Cross-owned start-up Activa before joining Westpac in 2006, played an important role in convincing the New Zealand arm that staying ‘open for business’ would pay off in the end. He was right, and this strategy has added significant value to the bank, with many of its competitors now being forced to play catch-up.

Moody, who oversaw retail, business, direct marketing and digital media and managed a team of 25, believes marketing is more than attention-grabbing communications. That’s an important part of the equation, of course, but he also believes passionately in utility and is always looking to create products and services that will make it easier for customers to deal with their finances, like its Cannes Lion-winning Impulse Saver mobile app, the Cash Tank mobile app, or the Salary Splitter. 

Successful—and, for its customers, useful—partnerships have also been a hallmark of his tenure. The GPS-enabled mobile app it developed in conjunction with realestate.co.nz has been downloaded over 100,000 times; it has built thousands of websites for Kiwi businesses as part of the getonline.co.nz initiative with accounting software company MYOB; and, more recently, it has created a series of helpful property calculators in Home Club that pull data directly from TradeMe’s housing listings.  

Photo: Paul Statham

Moody also played an integral role in launching Westpac’s sustainability branding in 2008 and helping the bank reach some of its lofty environmental goals. Then there’s the Gen W scheme; the bank’s new website; a focused housing campaign in a particularly challenging market that delivered very strong business results; and Westpac’s sponsorship of the Westpac Chopper Appeal, Halberg Awards, Dairy Excellence Awards, Business Excellence Awards and the Sir Peter Blake Trust. 

Of course, this honour is also about leadership and advocacy and Moody is seen as a principal influencer—within Westpac, the marketing industry and the wider community. He acts as a Westpac business coach, an ANZA board member and a committee member for Outward Bound NZ, and he has also judged a number of awards, including the Effies and the Asia Pacific Agency of the Year. He also held positions on a number of cross-functional leadership teams inside Westpac and was acknowledged for his efforts in 2011 when he was named senior manager of the year in the Westpac Platinum Achiever awards.  

He’s respected by his peers, he leads by example, he empowers his team to reach their potential, and he is that rare breed of marketer whose unrelenting focus on the customer has earned him a regular place at the top table to fight marketing’s corner, which makes Ian Moody a very deserving recipient of this year’s award.

Colmar Brunton marketer of the year: Ian Moody

 Judge’s comment: “Ian’s been seeding the results of the past 12 months over many years and one of the reasons we want to celebrate him this year is the fact that he’s acknowledged within the Westpac organisation as a principal leader, not just in marketing, but across a whole host of different cross-functional teams. Aa leader and a manager he has inspired a whole marketing team who absolutely love him to death and he’s put marketing very much at the forefront of everything Westpac is trying to achieve.”

Merit: Ben Shaw, Boundary Road Brewery

Ben Shaw shifted from Les Mills International to launch Independent Liquor’s Boundary Road Brewery craft range last year. And it’s been a huge success: BRB was the world’s first successful digital-centric beer launch; the most successful NPD in Independent Liquor’s 25 years of operation; sales were three times above forecast; and it has secured 14 percent of the craft beer market. And if that wasn’t enough, Shaw also played a key role in helping BRB shake up the cosy duopoly by entering the tap beer market.

Merit: Jeanette Paine, Unitec

In 2008, Unitec underwent a restructure. But in 2011, it was still flying under the radar, so graduates, their parents and their future employers needed to see how it had changed. Jeanette Paine’s leadership of ‘Change Starts Here’, a category-breaking integrated marketing campaign that bravely followed the lives of three real students throughout a full year, helped raise awareness of the institution, remove some misconceptions and reposition the brand, which led to a 20 percent increase in enquiries in 2011. 

An extended interview with Ian Moody:

On partnerships: When you’re talking about much more
emotional purchases, you can do some really nice stuff with magazines and Canvas has also been really successful for us in the business space, funnily enough. It
indexes pretty highly to small businesses. But our big play really is thinking
around the kind of media partnerships we can do. We’ve pretty much sorted
out Trade Me, particularly around housing. And we’ve got realestate.co.nz as
well. Essentially what we did is mapped out the whole buying journey and
then did some thinking around where people are most influenced. There’s the
upstream stuff, obviously when you’re thinking about your home, but we’ve
pretty much put all our bets into Trade Me [with HomeClub].
And what we’ve done is connected online in terms of investing in the interface
with Trade Me and developing some very sexy little calculators that
actually help customers with an answer. If there’s one thing I’m most proud of
in terms of what we’ve done and in terms of marketing it would be how we’ve
built the connection with our digital assets and our online
capability. The work that we did on the customer journey really made us
rethink how we were doing things. When it came to housing, we were like all the other banks: we waited
till spring, but then we said ‘actually, housing’s always on, how do we do it
always on without it becoming very promotional?’ We also half-shared the
development costs of the realestate.co.nz app. That was a cool process
actually. We wanted to make an end-to-end
kind of banking house-hunting solution so we integrated our calculators and that’s worked really well. But I think because Trade Me’s a lot about
selling, it’s in the psyche, you go there for a deal and I think people are
more in that sort of space, and the traffic’s just crazy. So if you go
on and click on one of those TradeMe links, what happens is it pops up in a
calculator and then, rather than that just be a dumb calculator, it
actually drags the house into our site, pre-populates the calculator with the sale amount, etc, etc, so you actually don’t input
anything and there’s your house sitting there. So you’re looking at your home
and then you can do that on numerous homes so you’ve actually got a series of
little calculations that you use sliders. 

On utility: The thing for us around calculators,
and I don’t meant to harp on about them, is that in the old days you had to
fill in every box. It’s like an excel spreadsheet. So we’ve tried to make the experience easier. Essentially we’ll do all the work for someone and give them
an answer, and then from there they can actually email it to themselves and
talk to someone or actually email it to one of our frontline staff and they get
a call within two hours and they’ll go and sell a home loan. We’ve also got the ‘what will your rent
buy?’ calculator, so if the only thing
you have to put in is how much rent you’re paying at the moment and another
little box to choose your location. And then it goes back to Trade Me and looks
at houses that would fit based on how much rent you’re paying. And what we’ve seen
from old versus new, we’ve got average sessions that are like 13 minutes or
something on a calculator … We’ve just launched a simple little thing called salary splitter and the business problem we’re trying to solve here is trying to get customers to give us their salaries. If you put your salary
into an account, it’s great for us and it generally leads to a deeper
relationship. But our staff, funnily enough, they don’t like asking. Actually I think there’s a psyche where banks love lending money
because it puts them in power; you’ve got the customer coming and they love this.
But when people actually want to deposit money, it’s different. The salary splitter was an
old product called payline split or something, so we took off the fees, we
packaged it up and we’ve relaunched it. Now my view is actually from all
that marketing it’s actually targeted at our staff, not our consumers, because
it’s a door-opener for them. So when they see something on TV or we’re
doing some activity, they go ‘wow, this is cool so we must be serious. If we’re
putting it out there we need to get our shit together.’

On bravery: My view on that is that if you follow the natural kind of sense of
around how people think, then you actually get caught up into a hole that
everybody else heads into and a really interesting example of that was when the GFC hit. We started seeing bad debts come in, so what they wanted to
do was pull in the risk guys. Essentially, that’s what banks are, they’re just
all about managing risk and the risk guys said ‘we can’t be offering low
deposits on houses, it’s not the right time to be doing this’. And I was just
horrified when I heard this. They were going to change the whole criteria. BNZ
did, ASB did, ANZ did, so there was this expectation that we would. So I just
put a slide together for my boss at the time to say ‘I think this is wrong,
you’ve got people that are completely immune to this, we need to look at what’s possible here’. Generally
first time buyers still want to buy a house and our insight was that the number
one thing that first home buyers were worried about through GFC was they were
embarrassed to go into a bank for the fear of rejection on not being able to
buy their first home. So they didn’t want to ask, and that’s why they went to
brokers. So I wanted to go out with a really strong, simple, single-minded
message saying ‘you’re a first home buyer, come and talk, for as little as 20
percent deposit we can get you in your first home’. 

Our natural market share is about 20 percent and we got
close to three times market share, when most banks went backwards. ANZ got
smashed and now they just want to get some share back. But we haven’t had to do
that because we’ve got some momentum based on some brave moves that we made
through the GFC around being open for business, particularly around home
lending. Again, the front line got in behind it, and that took away the fear of
rejection. It was funny because the Australian guys, they did go conservative
and they saw our market share growing, so they sent some guys over to make sure
that the quality of it was all good and we were writing great business. That was some good
leadership too. We had George Frazis came in from Oz, the CEO, and he was
bullish. But there’s a person behind these loans, not just numbers. 

On understanding customers: A lot of our customers have got one
relationship with us and it’s your classic marketing. Most of your business you’re
going to get from 80% of your customers if you do the right thing, so we’re
doing a lot of work around how we profile and how we work on those. A lot of
the direct to customer stuff is about looking at what makes a valuable customer and that’s a piece of work that we
did. It took about a year, and we’ve now pushed it across the bank so that our
front line actually understand that. And that was key. What we found was the
most valuable customers were the ones that had more relationships with us,
right from small accounts like tertiary customers through to our high net worth
customers. So our philosophy about how we think about customers has
changed over the last year, which is exciting. We’ve pretty much led a lot of
that thinking and my view is that our most powerful lever we’ve got in the bank
is our two and a half thousand frontline people. Get them directed this
way, and it’s all go. 

On motivation: I’m big on empowerment. It’s an overused
term but what I say to the team is, always think about what’s possible. It may
not be that we do that but if you have that frame of mind you’re constantly
going to look at different ways of doing stuff and so then I reward that. And
that feeds on itself. I think what happens in a lot of businesses is when the
senior marketing guy comes into a room everybody gets in behind them and waits
for that person to talk. I’m talking a lot now, but I tend to hold back. And
that’s something I’ve had to develop in myself. The other bit for me is that
we’re big on coaching, so we have a coaching academy here and I’ve coached
people across the business—and not just in my team, which has helped me get a
better understanding of the business. Coaching is not just sitting in a room on
one day either. I’m always wandering around just connecting the team and saying
‘how did you get on with that?’ or ‘what’s a different way of thinking about

The Westpac rescue helicopter, even though it’s a
huge thing, the way they ground that internally is incredibly motivational, the
staff just gets fully behind it. I think there is a real sense of community
within the business so it’s easy to leverage a lot of that. But for me, what I
tell my direct reports is that the team are watching us day-in, day-out on how
we talk, our body language, and that is the stuff that makes the difference. If
we’re not setting the bar, if we’re not talking the right language around the
‘what’s possible’ stuff, then none of the team will do it. Don’t think that if
you’re looking like sad ass on Monday morning the team are going to be all
chirpy and cheerful. The team is the sum of its parts, it’s not the guy at the
top going, yoo-hoo. In saying that, I’m not a softie and I demand really good

On extra-curricular activities: I’ve been involved with ANZA for a while
on the board and I’ve been tapped on the shoulder and presented a few times, like the digital day out and a social media mobile apps forum. So I am really keen and I present a lot
internally around as well. The other stuff I’m involved
with Outward Bound. I did this course and
I thought it was amazing, so I thought I’d ring up the CEO and now I’m helping them frame up how
they can market their business better and connecting with other
corporates and marketing directors that I know to actually see how they could
help Outward Bound. It’s actually quite time consuming, a lot more than I
thought, but it’s a real passion of mine. I love the organisation and I’m fortunate because I get to read the letters of people who’ve been
through and it makes you cry. Honestly, where
some people are at and how that charity has actually helped them, it’s pretty
cool. I have also been involved a lot with my son’s sports right through. I’m
bowing out now because he’s a teenager and he’s like ‘okay dad, you being the
manager and getting the shirts washed is great, but we’re sort of over that

On banking: Banking is phenomenally dynamic. People
don’t think that it is because they think it’s a bank. But in a marketing sense
there’s so much good stuff you can do and I think the winners will be the banks
that are really going to get close to the new digital environment and actually
grasp that. And we’ve all got fingers and toes in it at the moment, so we’re
all playing catch-up. It’s interesting, if
you look at telcos, they aren’t really doing any of that. They’re not really
playing at all. Even though they have the smartphones, they’re not really
playing that in a way that goes, ‘here’s a way that we can help you run your
business better using these new sexy tools’. I think banks can do that in a way
that connects better to how people manage their money, because that’s
all people want to do essentially. The winners will be those that completely remove the friction in what you do
day-to-day, like the friction of how many steps it takes to open an account, how
many steps it takes to get something done, so there’s a massive push towards
that and mobility is the name of the game. We are looking at our online development
now, developing mobile first and desktops second, and we just made a decision to do that.

On the future: Things like Near Field Communications are here right now and we’re only talking a couple of years and that’ll be
completely mainstream. So what is our business going to look
like? Another challenge you’ve got is you’ve got more regulation
coming through the pipe to make it harder for customers, like the anti-money
laundering bill. I’m on one of the steering committees for that, just from
the point of view that most if it’s made up of legal people and risk people and
compliance and then there’s me in there saying ‘imagine you’re a
customer now. What you’re proposing around the legislation, which is to the
letter of the law, what will a customer need to do? We won’t have any
customers if they have to go and do that’. And they say, ‘oh really?
It’s huge because what it comes down to is around customer identity so if
you think about that in relation to what we’re trying to do from a mobile
perspective, which is do as much as you can on mobile, not through a branch, it’s about trying to nail those identity issues without having to make that a real
friction for customers. They’re time poor, all that stuff, so we’re going to
have to really think it through, and it’s going to be really interesting. I
often say to people, ‘write a headline in tomorrow’s Herald around what we’ve
just done. It’s not going to
be, ‘Westpac just made it more difficult for customers to open a bank account’.
We want the headline to be ‘Westpac leads with ease of service whilst
delivering on anti-money laundering’. I mean this is compliance committee, it’s
not marketing. And the customer experience has got to be our shining focus,
that’s where we’ve got to push towards. 

On agencies: We had .99 and Colenso, and we continued
to retain .99 for a while when Colenso stopped and then we’ve just dropped DDB
into that mix. So I overlapped with three agencies at one point. It’s
confusing for the guys, as they’ve had half this job here and half this job
there. But hey, that’s why you want to stay in advertising and
marketing. It’s not boring.

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