An Open Letter to ASB Bank

by Daniel Batten on March 17, 2010

Dear ASB

We have been friends for a long time.

Like a few other GenX’s I had an ASB Savings book at school from age 8. The one with the picture of Kashin on the front. I can still remember his speech bubble “Don’t spend all your money, save some too.”

Smart Elephant. Wish I’d listened.

You have come up with some great clever ad campaigns in the past.

This latest ad campaign claiming you are a kiwi bank is not one of them.

A kiwi bank is a bank that is kiwi-owned. Period.

I think anyone in business, or not, would have the same definition.

Don’t you?

Maybe once, a big PR campaign could work by the sheer force of its “wool-pulling” power over our collective eyes.

But not today.

There is facebook. There is twitter. There are a whole community of bloggers who don’t let this sort of BS go un-noticed.

Using your definition of kiwi:

  • McDonalds is a kiwi company because it gives donations to Starship hospital
  • Shell is a kiwi company because it provides jobs to real kiwi men driving petrol trucks.
  • Telecom is a kiwi company, because it is helping us to enjoy the great kiwi outdoors, because there is nothing else left to do now that our mobiles and Internet connections don’t work any more.
  • George Gregan is a kiwi because he wears a rugby jersey made by Canterbury.

ASB is no longer kiwi-owned.

This didn’t bother me. Afterall, nor is most of New Zealand these days.

I mean, if we only did business with kiwi companies, none of us would be able to use mobile phones, or Internet or …

Come to think of it – maybe that wouldn’t be so very different after all.

But claiming to be something you are not? That just leaves an icky feeling.

Don’t worry, I’m still going to bank with you. After all, everyone makes mistakes.

But please don’t send us any more emails trying to justify your campaign. When you are in a hole. Stop digging.

No need for you to earn the name “A Stoopid Bank”.

Might be time to pull the plug, say “sorry guys. We screwed up. We aren’t kiwi owned. We were guilty of listening to some bad advise from a PR company. We’ll get back to doing what we do well: good service, nice Internet-banking, funny ads”.

Then you can get back to being authentically non-kiwi, rather than inauthentically non-kiwis-pretending-to-be-kiwis.

That is the sort of authenticity that gets rewarded by the market.

In the meantime, to show there are no hard feelings, I have a small gift for you for you to forward to the PR firm you used. You will have to pass it on to them, as I don’t know who they are.

Its a pair of fake-tattoo sleeves.

Now you don’t have to go through the pain of real tats, you can just roll these over your arms and look like the real thing (kinda).

I thought that gift would be quite fitting (so to speak).

You can see a preview at this following website.

A real bargain at $US11.89.

And don’t worry – its a “New Zealand product” … after all, I searched the Internet site from my New Zealand IP-address, and made the purchase from ASB account, which we all now know is a kiwi bank.

Happy wearing.

Please send me the snapshots.



{ 1 trackback }
March 17, 2010 at 11:14 pm

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Nick March 17, 2010 at 11:19 pm

I love this. I also had a kashin ASB bank book when I was a kid about 35 years ago. I’m still with ASB but I too was dismayed by the underhanded advertising. Maybe it is time to find a kiwi bank.

Lietta March 19, 2010 at 3:51 pm

I don’t know what you are talking about re the nz ad thing at the same time I got what you were saying, nice one. Well done Daniel. (I had a post office bank book still have it with my finger paintings!) 😉

Craig March 19, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Just a bunch of bankers. No change there….LOL (Don’t excuse the puns….)

Nice spotting Danny.

Jasmine Platt March 20, 2010 at 3:21 pm

I’m not sure about you, but the recent campaign feels as though ASB are feeling threatened, which only made me wonder about how well they are doing. Why would any company that felt its products and services were superior/great/worthwhile need to attempt to undermine a small/tiny competitor with a cheap shot campaign?

Methinks it may have been a PR idea cooked up on a Friday avo after a couple / too many beers that no-one thought to run through market testing. I felt sorry for them, and oddly pleased for KiwiBank. ASB just looked like an insecure giant by comparison. You’re right. Get back to authenticity and marketing that communicates the love and service they provide through banking. Leave the little guys to do the same and let customers make their choice based on the products that best meet their needs.
Have a great day, Daniel.

juliet March 21, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Nice one Daniel. I got that stupid email from ASB too and deleted it in disgust. Now I’ll retrieve it from my trash can and send it back with a link to your article and a few comments from me.

Phil March 23, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Yes, I am curious. On what criteria do they claim “kiwi”? There may be things we are unaware of: – funding voluntary organisations, sponsering students…? Let’s hear from them…

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