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.

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?