CommBank CAN.

With banks in the limelight for all the wrong reasons, CommBank followed in NAB’s footsteps to be the second of the big 4 to step outside the realm of boring and rigid financial services marketing campaigns, announcing a series of well-planned tactics to reposition their brand.

Why was CAN different?

What differentiated the ‘CAN’ campaign from traditional financial services marketing tactics was the integration of the message throughout the wider business, rather than a simple marketing ploy confined to the pillar of the marketing team. Instead, the ‘CAN’ message reverberated throughout all areas of commbank, from customer service agents to legal workers who conventionally have no involvement.

“We called the staff brand ambassadors and basically brought them into the fold. It was critical to have their support right across the business, so we went very wide. It’s about grabbing people from different functional areas and selling them on the fact we want to work with everyone in the business to bring CAN to life. I guess, it’s not their standard job.”

CommBank kicked off their campaign by releasing a series of billboards and bus advertisements showcasing the word ‘CAN’T’, a ploy to capture attention. One week later, CommBank changed the ‘CAN’Ts into ‘CANs’, signifying the new attitude all employees would bring to the workplace.  CommBank continued advertising their new brand message by then launching a series of TV and radio ads shown on high frequency.


Not only did CommBank choose some of the most expensive methods to advertise, they also secured a top Australian influencer, Toni Colette, to endorse their message through emotion. These tactics fit in with their high reach, high frequency strategy (Wildner & Modenbach, 2015), and likely helped drive long-term attitude change and brand equity.

It is no secret they invested heavily in repositioning their brand as a bank that CAN. But CAN was more than just advertising, it was a strategy to influence attitudes and behaviours by re-establishing their place in the market.


What CommBank did right

CommBank integrated their marketing and communications throughout the entire brand. The ability to be consistent in all forms of marketing and communications is difficult, and seen as contributing to the brand equity (Madhararam et al, 2005). IMC is highly regarded in a company of that size and portrays that CommBank’s underlying processes are deeply embedded in the organizational routines and practices (Luxton et al, 2015). In other words, CommBank made a company-wide change, and a company-wide promise to become the bank that CAN and they went to great lengths to achieve that.


Luxton. S,  Reid. M & Movando. F (2015) Integrated marketing communication capability and brand performance, Journal of Advertising, Vol. 44, Issue 1, pp. 37-46

Madhararam. S, Badrinarayanan. V & McDonald, R (2005) Integrated marketing communications and brand identity as critical components of brand equity strategy, Journal of Advertising, pp. 71-81

Wildner. R & Modenbach. G (2015) The long term ROI of TV advertising in a digital world, Vol 7, No. 1, pp. 54-61

Danniella McGowen 216223021


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