Commonwealth Bank and the can’t imperative

A new bank advertising campaign is manna from heaven for bloggers. I tried to resist joining the fray, but then a friend asked me last week what I thought of the new Commonwealth Bank campaign and I realised it would be seriously remiss of me to look such a generous gift horse in the mouth.

Where to begin…

I’ll leave out my planned swipes at the Dr Seuss-inspired content of the TV ads and simply recommend that everyone pick up a copy of Oh, the Places You’ll Go – a genuinely feel good ditty by the master of rhyme and verse (without the commercial overlay).

The real question for me is why would anyone want to frame their campaign with a negative? Oh I know the intent is for the word “can” to be the driver here, but unfortunately when you mention an elephant it’s hard to see anything but big grey pachyderms. In other words, “can’t” rules the day (and judging by the comments section of many of the articles I’ve read about the campaign, I’m not the only one who thinks so).

But I guess in a weird, and I’m sure unplanned, way, I should give points for making a promise they could keep – if only they had stopped at “can’t”!

Like the NAB and ANZ before them with their “Breaking up with the other banks” and “We live in your world” campaigns, Commonwealth Bank (or is it CommBank now? I get confused) seems driven to garner hype and buzz, and will likely measure the success of this campaign along those lines. The ability to deliver on that hype relegated to poor relation status.

The sentiment of many comments I read was neatly summed up by this person on a Mumbrella article:

“Loving the Commonwealth Bank’s new ‘can’t‘ campaign. In fact, that was their exact response to my request for bridging finance a while ago. can’t.”