‘We’re your bank, not your Mum’

Westpac has taken a cheeky approach to its promotional push with a poster encouraging potential customers to go in and chat to one of its consultants. Rather than taking the usual approach of promising expert advice, the bank is tapping into the shame people often feel about their finances.

While this is probably just another example of the irreverence that has come to typify some of the bank’s recent advertising, the relationship between shame and debt (or bad financial circumstances) is an interesting topic. 

In fact, the Germans don’t really distinguish between the two, using the word ‘schuld’ to refer to both guilt and debt (this is part of the reason why the Germans continue to pay with cash for most items). And while Kiwis don’t necessarily associate debt with wrongdoing, you don’t have to look far down the comments section of a Stuff or Herald article to find examples of poor shaming on this side of the world. 

Of course, the shame associated with debt isn’t applicable to everyone. For some, an alternative always exists in asking Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg for a $1 billion bailout.  



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