Commonwealth Bank Down Under

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has replaced its ‘Which Bank’ campaign with a new series of TV ads using the tagline, “Determined to be different”. The campaign, developed by American advertising agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners, is an ongoing light hearted mockumentary in the same vein as the ASB Ira Goldstein series in New Zealand.

Dundee Didgeridoo image from Commonwealth Bank ad

The Down Under Anthem, the first ad in the series, is being launched on television shows today, on Australia Day. It shows an American agency account team pitching to a Commonwealth Bank marketing team. The ad in the first presentation, supposedly directed by Hollywood director Michael Bay, has a bizarre combination of koala bears, didgeridoo, boomerang, Southern Cross, and characters from Crocodile Dundee and Mad Max movies. Bay tells the team that he used seven helicopters.

As all Australians would immediately pick up, this is an shallow stereotype of Australian culture. And of course it doesn’t work for the Commonwealth Bank team, excerpt perhaps for the final tagline.

“We are the bold, the brave, the daring. We are the determined. We built a bank under the Southern Cross determined to rise, to drive, determined to be different.”

Click on the image below to play the video in YouTube

The new CBA campaign is an ironic play on the behind-the-scenes angst in the Australian advertising industry following the decision to move away from Australia-based STW Communications and move to Goodby Silverstein in the United States. Read the comments by Australian advertising professionals (all anonymous) at Campaign Brief to get a feel for how the campaign is being received.

The campaign will include a number of 30 second TV ads continuing the saga, with a web component developing at and social networking sites such as MySpace.

Bannerblog did some digging and found that ‘Determined to Be Different’ is registered trademark #1211855 of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, lodged by CBA’s General Counsel John O’Sullivan on November 23, 2007.

Mad Max Koalas in Commonwealth Bank TV ad


The new Commonwealth Bank campaign was developed at Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, by creative director Rich Silverstein, creative director Steve Simpson, copywriter Chris Beresford-Hill, copywriter Rick Condos, art directors Feh Tarty, Will Hammond and Hunter Hindman, copywriter Pat McKay, agency producers Barbro Eddy and Jake Grand.

Goodby Silverstein & Partners creative director and partner, Steve Simpson is quoted in B&T magazine as saying at the campaign launch:

“I have to be very clear that the characters are not Goodby Silverstein & Partners employees. It is true that Americans are a convenient foil for all the excesses of modern marketing. But it is really an advertising campaign about the artifices of advertising. We live in an incredibly media savvy time, you know everyone is now a film maker – as we see on YouTube. User generated content is all the rage, because everyone has had an ad idea. So, there is this interest about what goes on behind the scenes. So, the kind of making of this stuff becomes the subject of the advertising itself. I think there are clear stylistic nods to The Office – the way that the silence is played and the awkwardness of the clients’ reactions. What you see are bumbling culturally clueless Americans, and invariably polite patient Aussie clients.”

Michael Bay Hollywood Director

Filming was shot by London director Eric Lynne via Partizan, Los Angeles, with director of photography Shawn Kim.

Sound was mixed at Lime, Santa Monica.

Now does anyone else want to see the whole thing again?

  • Love the article.

    But, do you think CBA will ever go back to the ‘Which Bank’ campaign, if this new commercial fails?

  • Cat

    The Commonwealth Bank will always be ‘Which Bank’. They’ll never be able to shake that off!

  • Shelby

    Forget whether the ad is funny or not, as a Comm Bank shareholder I am p*ssed off that they are spending their advertising dollars overseas… there are plenty of award winning and talented ad agencies in Australia. Whatever happened to BUY AUSTRALIAN… and to think that they had the gall to lauch this US made ad on AUSTRALIA DAY – shame Comm Bank, shame!!

  • Trevor Clark

    A refreshing change in approach, that will be a forerunner for other large domestic banks who operate within the saturated Australian market. Despite the flurry of foreign invaders over the last 15 years, Australian Banking has not changed it’s “good enough for my father” entrenched thinking to banking services – innovations have been more akin to the cold war arms race than the differentiation that acquires real competitive edge. To see an Australian Bank setting the scene and redefining the mould by trying to seriously expand market borders can only auger well for customers, shareholders and the general Australian financial market. Bravo !

  • A McLachlan

    I have never seen such rubbish by a major bank in Australia. No international Bank would ever produce such parochial rubbish. This is the usual rubbish one would expect from people that have never lived overseas or have been educated in the finer art of business or the arts. This is what one would expect from people of the Keating Whitlam era of this country sad but true. I live overseas in Asia for 30 years and see this is just rubbish in the eyes of people in Asia. Shame. Thank goodness I am no longer a CBA shareholder and account holder.

  • J Man

    A McLachlan- Im not so sure its aimed at the Asian audience of the world. Parochial it may be, but being “Aussie” is definitely a strong motivator for a lot of Aussies.

    Whether or not this ad hits that mark is another thing entirely, but I don’t quite understand the relevance to how other cultures look at themselves. Beyond this, its not actually the Aussies being parochial, but the US trying to tell Australians how they think they are perceived…

  • hank

    “…it is really an advertising campaign about the artifices of advertising” oh spare me – what is this filmschool? It should be about making me forget that the twats make several billion dollars profit a year from over charging me, not rubbing my face in it by pissing money up the wall on this crap.

    I’m not buying into the whole local vs us agency or the hidden subtext – I just think it’s a really unimaginative poor creative. If the only way the new agency can get an idea through is to boost the marketing teams ego by acknowledging they exist and indirectly putting them in the ad then it’s not exactly a strong start. I can hear the pitch now – ‘I really like the tone of the Office and Extras and don’t think we should take ourselves too seriously etc and so on….’. If you want to see how to do this properly look up ‘Truth in Advertsing’ on youtube – it’s where the ideas been ripped off from, but 3-4 years after the idea was fresh and no where near as sharp.


  • A McLachlan

    J Mann, This CBA “ad” is load of unadulterated crap. I have seen it a few times on SBS and the more I see the more disgusting it becomes. The people that developed are all morons. How more Australian specific can one get? This is no artistic it is autistic.

  • K Jones

    I dont have much to say about the add itself, but we are having arguments in our house as the who the female actress on th “Australian Side” is. Anyone able to solve the mystery??

  • Davy

    Commonwealth bank definately went backwards with this one. All this ad says is ‘look at us, we’re “wisely” funding YOUR money that we’ve been taking from you into making stereotypical ads that disgrace our own country’. They’re practically BEGGING for complaints. But hey, the company itself is pretty crap anyway, what more could you expect?

  • Andrew Boulding

    is there a website you can direct me to for the CBA ad which features New Zealand as ‘shabangabang’? i love it and it’s no longer on TV. My mate and i quote it often. Thanks.

  • Rob

    is Chloe from HOme and Away the girl in the new CBA ad????

  • David Hulme

    Which bank? Okay . . . now it is the Aussie bank that persists and persists with an American ad agency that has nothing to deliver but feeble stereotypes. It is the bank with a dogged commitment to cheap shots and low humour. It is the bank whose logo makes me cringe for the first time.

  • Kirsty

    The girl in the CBA ads is ‘Tempany Deckert’. She played Selina in Home and Away and now does film stuff in the US and writes children’s books.