Financial services creative effectiveness is growth in realness

Irene Joshy
By Irene Joshy | 21 August 2023
Irene Joshy

Irene Joshy – Head of Creative, Kantar Australia and APAC

The world of financial services advertising is at once intriguing and fascinating. As Australians grapple with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, it is a sector ripe for fast creative analysis through the power of AI. I took over 30 brand creative assets across super, insurance (home, car, life and health) and banks and ran it through Kantar’s LinkAI – (where anyone can test their own or competitor digital and TV ads in as few as 15 minutes) to develop a snapshot of Australian financial advertising, just as I recently did on alco-bevs right here in AdNews. I knew that this round of analysis would be the toughest and I walked into it with some degree of trepidation and doubt. But, what a surprise!

The Aussie financial sector seems to be getting representation right
Several ads feature people of different ages, ethnicities, and gender identities. Whether to embolden them to take life face-on or elevate their worries while battling inflation, these creatives are positive beacons of optimism. But there are finer nuances to the way creativity and effectiveness combines in the body of their creative work.

Super brands are delivering on long-term brand building with more than half the creatives clearly driving strong equity measures. Over three-quarters (77 per cent) delivered on ‘Difference’, which is an important part of Kantar’s equity or Demand Power construct (above our norms on uniqueness and dynamism) is the number one brand contributor to superior financial returns. There is no dearth of creativity withs promises of ‘Growth for Good’; however, clear lines are drawn between the ones who can persuade and deliver on the change they wish to see and those that do not (just 33 per cent of the ads were persuasive). 

Commitment is what Australians wish to see and heritage as a lever is just a starting point. The promise comes alive when you create for relevance through a clear purpose that is fulfilled in the lives of the Aussie consumer (UniSuper) or the promise of a building a better world for all (Australian Ethical).

Simplicity, access and transformation seem to be par for super
Real difference is built through creating strong relevance that emanates from knowing the aspirations, the struggles of the people and creating for them (Cbus Super ‘Making hard work pay off’) – a simple narrative that combines heritage with the promise of sufficiency even on retirement – who doesn’t want to hear that with proof? Or when life changes and you need to know that your Super choice is validated (Australian Super ‘First job’).

Credible transparency (Australian Retirement Fund) as armour (not as shield) also builds relevancy. An interesting observation here is the use of the change (life events) as a pathway to prosperity and a better life. However, this is not enough to grab attention as just one in three ads delivers strong cut-through – probably because of the nature of the messaging is problem-solution-led in embedding the role of the brand. The next round of development for the ‘super’ super brands would be to break category tropes and grab attention while continuing to build the brand.

When it comes to enjoyment, thematic advertising from our banks hits the ball out of the park

Congratulations to all for driving high levels of engagement and grabbing attention. A 100 per cent score on enjoyment is rare to find in a sector that is so often stereotyped. The diversity in creative expressions is impressive with the use of different storytelling devices, visual metaphors and human insights. From the Westpac ‘Separation’ creative that offers consumers comfort at the time of vulnerability and stress to Suncorp dispelling the clouds of doom; all of them leave a unique and indelible mark. While the humourous creative of both Comm Bank ‘We can’ and ANZ ‘Financial Wellbeing’s make you feel good and uplift your spirits.

But despite the creative resonance, only half of banking ads managed to deliver on long-term equity building as evidenced by Macquarie Bank celebrating the spirit of the ‘Good Borrowers’ and Comm Bank We can showcasing their beneficiaries. So, what can help brands drive long-term equity? The key lies in building relevance and weaving your differentiated storytelling techniques into the story of the people who make you, you.

The insurance landscape is much tougher to crack and win creatively

While more than half of the ads tested enjoyed strong enjoyment, just half are predicted to drive short-term sales. Suncorp’s ‘Shannons’, a Kantar Creative Effectiveness AUNZ 2023 winner, ticks plenty of boxes for both inclusion and diversity, and an authentic portrayal of a lifestyle audience for whom they hold great value and meaning. A stellar example of brand building combined with high levels of enjoyment and short-term-sales likelihood.

But you do not always need to be serious when you are selling assurances – a dash of humour has and will always hold you in good stead in Australia. Medibank’s ‘An Ode to the Brain’ is a very different, almost quirky narrative and hits the top tenth percentile on Demand Power (brand equity potential). An engaging, enjoyable ode, it manages to persuade Australians to live better and buy into the brand’s proposition with a voice of assurance and commitment. No drama just the simple message of urging us all to take care of our incredible human body.

Budget Direct’s ‘Blows away the competition’ may or may not have blown competition away but  does cause a bit of a stir with exaggerated style, usage of ‘Sarge’ as a consistent brand asset and delivering well on relevance, meeting consumer needs and driving appeal and impact for the brand in the long-term. Who said drama is overrated?

NRMA’s ‘Until then’ takes the subtle, understated visual allegory route to assure people of access, ease and its commitment to be there when needed. It definitely drives relevance, meaning, difference and helps the brand stand apart from the others.

The Aussie appetite for variety in advertising is sufficiently satiated across financial brands

The difference that they demonstrate is in their methods and techniques of storytelling to inspire, transform, and assure our Aussie lives. The brands that drive difference and stand out are the ones that are breaking free from the traditional definers of ‘what to say’ and ‘how to say it’, experimenting with making new connections with Australians.  And, they are the ones that will go laughing to the bank (pun intended) given that creative effectiveness generates four times the profit. Definitely something to bank on for driving success.


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