Integrated Marketing Campaign – Commonwealth Bank

How the Commonwealth Bank showed us they “can” re-position

We are willing to bet we aren’t the only ones who were mystified by the billboards splashed with the word “can’t” over the past week. They were everywhere; bus stops, Airport Drive – “can’t”, and a URL address. Even more mysterious was the lack of branding associated with the billboards and the website – just who was associated with this integrated marketing campaign?

But, revealed this past weekend was the reason behind this integrated marketing campaign – the Commonwealth Bank’s (CBA) repositioning. Over the course of last Saturday night, the message was changed from “can’t” to “can” with the placement of the Commonwealth Bank’s signature diamond logo over the “t”. If people weren’t talking about the ad before, they are now.

The campaign is in two stages; the first, or the launch stage we could call it, was seen last week with the unveiling of the “can’t” posters. Beginning Sunday was the second, or the reveal stage, in which the bank literally changed the word “can’t” to “can”.

But, just what is it about this integrated marketing campaign that has got people hooked and talking? That would be the exploitation of human emotional reaction masterminded by the bank’s new creative agency, M&C Saatchi.

Conversely, M&C Saatchi have attracted attention with claims that this is not the agency’s first ‘CAN’ campaign, with claims that the CBA campaign bears a striking resemblance to that of the BT (British Telecom) campaign executed some 13 years ago.

Here are some of the techniques we have seen used so far:

  • Outdoors – numerous teaser posters were hung in a variety of locations, sparking interest due to their simple message, yet lack of brand association.
  • Digital – underneath the word “can’t” on the billboards, was a link to a website, Over 50,000 users visited the website, where upon each visit the site displayed a new message, such as “Can’t win”. Now, the website links visitors to the CBA website.
  • Stunts – art installations, such as the word “can’t” on the back of a truck driving near the Sydney Harbour Bridge, were used to catch the eye of passersby throughout the first stage of this integrated marketing campaign.
  • App – the CBA introduced an “augmented reality app” in collaboration with News Limited. Users reading their Sunday newspapers were able to download an app that, by simply holding their phone over the CBA logo, allowed them to view the new launch ad.
  • TV ad – actress Toni Collette has lent her name and clout to the latest CBA ads. Speaking directly to the camera, the idea was to “bring to life” the CAN campaign.


All of this in an effort to replace the bank’s previous tagline and branding of “Determined to be different”. Now, it is all about CAN. According to the CBA’s chief marketing and online officer, Andy Lark, the idea was to create an “enduring legacy”. This is only the beginning of this campaign, but already people are talking about it across print, digital and social media.

But what is most striking about this rebrand through the use of an integrated marketing campaign is the commitment towards this CAN attitude from the entire company. The Commonwealth Bank showed us just how creative they can be. If they can do it, you can too! It’s time to start thinking outside the box.