Westpac gives those who hand out a hand up, unintentionally offends a few Greeks

  • Advertising
  • March 11, 2013
  • Ben Fahy
Westpac gives those who hand out a hand up, unintentionally offends a few Greeks

‘Hand Outs’, the next instalment in DDB’s ‘Start Asking’ campaign for Westpac, puts the spotlight on the ‘sandwiched’ generation. But the ad, which puts a humorous spin on the group’s endless plight to keep their family financially supported and uses the Zorba the Greek track, has managed to rile up a few Greeks who believe the ad is racist. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTmMfCOZZggMichael Healy, Westpac senior brand manager, says he can envisage the ad hitting home for a number of Kiwis.

"Although the ‘sandwiched’ generation should be enjoying a higher disposable income as they are more likely to be mortgage free and looking forward to their retirement, they find themselves handing out just as much as ever. We can help ‘the bank of mum and dad’ get their finances in order so they can still help their family from time to time, but also ensure they have their own future financially secure."

Mike Hutcheson wrote about the law of unintended consequences a few years back and this ad could fit into that category, as it seems to have caused some unintended offense to some in the Greek community. At first it seemed the sceptical YouTube commenters were mostly concerned with the fact that Westpac NZ hadn't paid for the rights to use the Zorba the Greek song (it paid for the rights to re-record it). But some commenters also saw it as inherently racist and demeaning to all Greeks. That seems a bit over the top, but we assume this has to do with the fact that the country is currently in a debt crisis, has had a few bail outs and is suffering through very difficult financial times, so an ad featuring this famous Greek track that ends with a shot of an empty wallet seems to have been construed as a pointed jab at the troubled nation. 

As Dale Calder commented: "This ad is totally abhorrent and demeans all Greeks. As a Philhellene and someone married to a Greek who has observed first hand the effects of the raft of austerity measures imposed on the citizenry of Greece, I find this offensive in the extreme! I can understand why Greeks here in NZ will be up in arms when they see this. I think Kyrios Theodorakis should be made accutely aware of the way in which his memorable composition has been so maligned."

But it’s not about the race, it’s about the pace. And as DDB NZ's executive creative director Andy Fackrell says, "it’s a great, whimsical  tune that people recognise. It worked well with the build up and mirrored the situation getting out of control." 

Responding to a comment on its Facebook page that suggested the ad was racist, Westpac said: "Thanks for your feedback. 'Zorba the Greek' was chosen as it's a popular and well-loved piece of music and fitted the tempo of the ad, with no other intentions. It was certainly not meant to imply anything and was completely co-incidental choice."



Executive Creative Director – Andy Fackrell

Art Director/Copywriter – Lisa Fedyszyn

Art Director/Copywriter – Jonathan McMahon

Executive Producer – Judy Thompson 

Agency Producer – Rosie Grayson

Group Account Director - Zoe Alden 

Group Account Director - Victoria Graves 

Account Director - Jenny Travers

Film Company:

Production Company – Prodigy Films 

Director – Tim Bullock 

Producer – Nikki Walker 

DOP – Germain McMicking 

Editor – Adam Wills 

Audio – The Coopers at Franklin Rd 

Sound Engineer – Jon Cooper 

Licensing – Jonathan Hughes 

Composition – Peter Van Der Fluit @ Liquid 

Post Production – Toybox


Callum Wilson – Head of Marketing and Customer Experience

Sharon van Gulik -  Head of Brand and Marketing Communications

Michael Healy – Senior Brand Manager

Adrian McCaffrey – Senior Manager Marketing

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