Reeling from an economic recession spurred by the financial industry’s collapse, consumers are eager to finger big bank villains. ANZ gladly offers up “Barbara,” the rude, cranky, deceptive and dismissive bank manager starring in a pair of parodies that demonize the bank’s competition.
ANZ, the largest bank in Australia, is using Barbara — the epitome of what people detest about banking services and policies — to draw wry contrasts between itself and the cold-hearted perceptions of big banks.
In one of the spots, a customer complains to Barbara. “You said I should open this everyday account because it had NO monthly account fees,” the customer protests.
“No need to thank me,” Barbara snaps back.
“I’m not, look at all these!”
“Ah yeah,” Barbara says. “You see when I said no monthly account fees that was no with a silent ‘k’ as in you may not know about the fees until the fees are charged. Your mistake.”
ANZ – “KNOW FEE CHECKING”
Barbara tries to straighten out one of her customers who complains about fees on her no-fee checking account.
ANZ – “NO GO AWAY”
Barbara dismisses the complaints of one of her customers and instead signs him up for a product he doesn’t want.
Reality Check: It wouldn’t be funny if it wasn’t true.
ANZ produced the TV commercials after the bank eliminated 27 different fees and charges on personal accounts. The spots are intended to highlight ANZ’s simple and transparent approach to everyday banking.
“We are not just parodying our competitors, we are parodying the entire industry, including ourselves,” David Lindberg, ANZ’s managing director of marketing and strategy, told the Daily Telegraph in an interview.
The role of Barbara is played by comedian Genevieve Morris, who has been enjoying a level of notoriety unbefore seen in her 20-year career thanks to the ANZ spots.
An unofficial account for Barbara has over 1,500 fans on Facebook.
Comments at various websites hosting copies of the commercials reflect a range of consumer sentiment. Some say the spots backfire, perfectly capturing the experience they had with an ANZ employee. Most take the spots for what they are: a light-hearted poke at crappy bank service.
The campaign was created by Australian ad agency M&C Saatchi.