Switching banks is such a hassle that almost nobody bothers. But by triggering change to the switching system and then creating a category-breaking campaign to let everyone know how easy it was to do it, new customers came flooding in.
For the past few years Kiwibank has consistently had the highest consideration scores of all the banks in New Zealand. But only about five percent of New Zealanders were actually switching because they were put off by the thought of all the branch visits, the paperwork and the frustration of resetting auto-payments and direct debits. So, continuing its role as the main challenger brand, Kiwibank became the primary agitator in getting the NZ Bankers Association to formalise co-operation between the banks and allow consumers to switch with just one signature.
The problem was few consumers knew about the changes, so Kiwibank needed to spread the word. Its first attempt, a traditional above-the-line campaign called ‘The Great Escape’, was only modestly successful. So it took a completely different approach for its next effort, creating an entertaining online video experience through a bespoke YouTube channel and advertising campaign called ‘Green Ops – Operation Easyswitch’.
This campaign wasn’t solely about convincing New Zealanders that Kiwibank was a better banking option. To a great extent that job had already been done, because people already wanted to switch. It just had to show them how easy it was to do it.
Consumers primarily research banks and financial products online, so its focus was online rather than above the line and, because global banking best practice case studies frequently showed ‘non-bank’ campaigns achieving greater results than traditional bank campaigns, Green Ops was deliberately conceived and executed with a plan of entertaining to engage, with a campaign that was less like a financial services offer and more like a Hollywood film launch.
Fortunately, Kiwibank has made a habit of entertaining consumers since it was launched, usually at the expense of the big banks. So it wasn’t entirely out of character. But it wasn’t all fun and games either. It was trying to get switchers over the line, so it also created a call centre team to convert potential switchers, capture their details and get them into the conversion funnel.
Real Kiwibank staff starred in the videos, including the three ‘hero’ figures, and all staff were briefed, trained and encouraged to try their best to make switching easy for New Zealanders. And, because Kiwibank doesn’t have its own store network in which to run its campaigns, it also had to gain the support of all the New Zealand Post stores and their teams throughout New Zealand.
Packed with immersive video and featuring all the social media bells and whistles, the YouTube channel provided a first person gamified experience, with users moving around the platform like a special agent and discovering different reasons to move to Kiwibank.
Users had to pick a path through a series of rooms, deep in the basement of Green Ops headquarters, where the elite team whose mission it was to help rescue customers from other banks were being trained. There were also bankers from the big banks being de-programmed, customers attending rehab sessions, and other customers signing up to switch. Hotspot links provided extra random moments of humour and interest, with not-so-subtle references to its competitors in the form of flying pigs, a horse and “someone who liked bagels”. And at every stop there were ample new opportunities to “switch or share”.
Online advertising was used heavily to promote the site. But not just straight banner ads. A full movie-like teaser campaign was created and that was run on major websites to drive maximum reach and awareness. This was augmented by a paid search campaign plus Facebook and Twitter posts, and a prominent feature on the main Kiwibank website.
Keeping with the movie theme, cinema advertising was also used, with video trailers running before selected movies and mixed within real movie trailers, and series of dramatic Hollywood styled voice-overs featured on a broad mix of radio stations. Street posters and cine lights complete with QR codes that were linked to the Green Ops site and sat alongside real movie launches topped it off.
The campaign blitzed every switching record in the bank’s history, with switching applications received at six times the past rate. During the ten-week campaign it had the biggest ever switching day, followed by its biggest ever switching week and then month.
Kiwis engaged with the Green Ops site in massive numbers, with well over half of completed switches coming via the branch channel, 28 percent via the Green Ops call centre and seven percent via online.
The campaign also grew Kiwibank’s share in the mortgage market, as most new customers brought their high revenue home loans with them, and because the campaign didn’t rely on expensive television media, it delivered an extremely high ROI.
The campaign was so successful that Green Ops 2, a better and smarter version of Green Ops 1, ran six months later. And, despite having only half the budget, it resulted in similar switching numbers.
“The financial and banking category in many respects is quite a commoditised one. There’s some big budgets and some very big brands, but we needed a winner that epitomised what was best about marketing and the various elements that go into a very successful campaign. It’s not enough to just have an engaging TVC, it’s more about the thinking and the insight and ultimately the impact on the bottom line the entry generated for the business … And one of the strengths of the Kiwibank entry was its strong understanding of the long term value of the campaign.”
Finalist in the following categories:
- Category - Fast Moving Consumer Goods Winner Merit
- Category - Technology
- Category - Retail
- Category - Not-For-Profit
- Category - Consumer
- Category - B2B
Ogilvy New Zealand (advertising agency), Ikon Communications (media agency), Springload (digital design agency)