• Thinkerneur

Here’s why the new Nedbank Campaign is technically incorrect – it has strategic technical errors

*STEs is a phrase I coined. STEs are misalignments between brand/business, creative intent, and strategy.

Before we unpack the headline, here’s a LinkedIn post where I had said that the campaign was “really good”:

Below is a screengrab on why I thought it was “really good”:

Indeed, I still believe the construct of “A bank that takes your money vs. one that takes your money seriously” is good. As mentioned in the above, it isn’t a new idea, but I like how it has been expressed, and as you may have seen with the creative executions, it has led to some interesting creative and advertising expressions.

Since the LinkedIn post, the campaign has made its way into conversations with some of the people that I regularly engage with, and as expected, there are some polarizing thoughts on it, with reviews ranging from “I love it” to “I’m not sure hey” to “It’s good, but there’s something quite not sitting right with it”.

It is these contrasting views that have solicited this article. The most interesting conversation was with a close friend, one of the most intelligent people I know, and I have huge respect for her. As per norm, her viewpoints were thought provoking and provided a critical perspective, which ultimately led me to seeing the campaign differently (see what I did there?). It was her perspective that nudged me into interrogating my initial LinkedIn Post. Now I am left wondering whether the campaign is “really good”.

It is always good to probe, question and interrogate

As a strategist, fundamentally, I believe that exposure to new information should lead to a new or well-rounded viewpoint. New information should always lead to either a change in thinking or an appreciation of the alternative, at the least. Our conversation revealed something that I had completely missed.

Below are a few key strategic issues that we discussed, and you may either add your own, dispute them or just provide feedback on whether the strategic technical errors (STEs) are spot on or have missed the mark.

Strategic technical errors (STEs) of the Nedbank campaign:

The quality of the ads is undisputed. But at the same time; the intent and objective of advertising or marketing is not only to create exceptional advertising that looks and sounds good, but it is also, perhaps more important, to persuade, convince and convert.

Before we delve into the STEs, here are the campaign TV commercials, and you can watch them here:

Zero-Stars: (Sneakers)


V8 Burden: (Car)


Descent: (Cologne)


D-Vice (Technology/Smartphones):


LeGrandeur (Whiskey):


Overall, I have identified three (3) strategic technical errors (STEs):

The three (3) technical errors try to answer the following questions:

· Who or what is Nedbank really challenging?

· What is Nedbank selling?

· Where are the proof points to show that the Nedbank takes your money seriously, compared to other banks?

STE 1: is the campaign challenging the category or the consumer (and their money choices)?

The answer to the above question is critical and may prove to be where the campaign fundamentally falls off. The provocation that I like; “Do you want a bank that takes your money or one that takes your money seriously?” suggests that Nedbank is challenging the category. Meaning, Nedbank will give you what no other bank will give you. This informed by their proposition of “see money differently”, which is a good iteration from when the proposition was first introduced. What I like about “see money differently”, just a proposition alone, in isolation of any work attached to it, is its intent to refocus the consumer on what is important; “money”. After all, that is exactly what banking is about.

“see money differently” vs. “A bank that takes your money seriously”

Here is where the storyline and proposition do not align and the disconnect starts to arise:

· The storyline is informed by good insights from a consumer perspective – it is indeed true that people do not make wise money decisions. We spend unnecessarily and do so at our own detriment long-term. This I absolutely agree with.

· With that said, when we spend our money, whether we want to please our friends, to fit in, or to be flashy on Instagram or buy every latest gadget, we do so in the absence of “other banks”. Meaning that, when we, as the campaign suggests, buy sneakers, expensive alcohol, expensive colognes, expensive cars and the latest gadgets, we do so at our own accord. We do not want to be; “Inja ye game” (as the La Granduer (Whiskey) ad suggests), because of the banking category, we do so because we are investing in our social capital and self-concept.

· It is therefore us (the consumer or the people) who do not take our money seriously, and not the category or other banks

· It is in this moment that you realize that the campaign has combined two ideas which could live independently to each other. The idea of people spending money unnecessarily could be a campaign, and the idea of “a bank that takes your money vs. the one that takes it seriously” could be a whole different campaign.

The campaign storyline is that people tend to make bad money decisions or choices, and yet my favourite line challenges the category. Technically, a brand that challenges the category, should then speak to what the category isn’t doing, that it does, exceptionally well.

In this instance, the campaign challenges consumers to make wise money decisions (check the storyline) but addresses the category (Do you want a bank that takes your money or takes your money seriously?).

So, based on the storyline, who is fact not taking the people’s money seriously? Is it the people themselves or other banks? Is Nedbank challenging the consumer or the category? If they are challenging the category, then I ask; how are they taking my money seriously?

If we link this campaign back to the proposition of “see money differently”, is Nedbank asking people to see money differently through how they spend their own money or how other banks see their money? The answer to this is also critical, but I’ll let you answer it.

STE 2: What is Nedbank really selling?

What are they selling?

What problem are they solving?

Having looked at all the TVCs, it becomes evident that it isn’t quite clear nor is it overt, what the bank is selling. Are they selling the idea of a bank that takes your money seriously, i.e.: the Nedbank brand? Which part of the brand/bank? Transactional banking? Savings and investment? Business banking? Private Wealth? All of it? Everything? Well, the call to action says “Join Nedback Today” but does not elaborate for what.

Usually, with banks, they use the end frame to either outline the specific product or category portfolio being sold. With no specific product being mentioned or outlined, I am not sure what products I will be choosing or signing up for, should I decide to go with the bank that takes my money seriously.

Based on the call to action; “Join Nedbank Today”:

· Do I need to switch my transactional bank?

· Is Nedbank asking me to open a Savings & Investment account?

· Is Nedbank asking me to open a business account?

· Is Nedbank going to teach me about making wiser?

· Is Nedbank ask me to become a private wealth customer?

· Is Nedbank going to offer me premium services?

· Is Nedbank going to teach me how to spend my money?

· Is Nedbank going to give me benefits that are better than what my bank currently offers?

· Is Nedbank coming with a revolutionary product that’s going to change the game, as they take my money seriously?

All the above questions lead to the third STE.

STE 3: There are no proof points:

Not only what product am I buying, but why should I join or buy that product?

Where are the proof points?

How are other banks taking people’s money?

How are they then taking people’s money seriously?

How does Nedbank take your money seriously? What are the proof points or as we often say; what are the reasons to believe? Or is the consumer meant to believe that Nedbank takes their money seriously?

The ads are great and beautifully shot, but the question remains, how then does Nedbank take my money seriously? Another creative friend of mine asked; “What are the reasons to believe?”

Forget advertising, I’m now speaking as a consumer.

A bank that currently takes my money is FNB, the bank charges are embarrassingly ridiculous. That’s a bank that takes my money, and the Nedbank campaign is premised on this challenger idea, but the message overall, fails to show how Nedbank would take my money seriously.

The ads are beautifully shot, and the storylines are great, but what do you think about the STEs above? Share your thoughts.

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