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Why don't creatives understand small business?
Welcome to a midweek update from Unmade.
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Patronising or functional - why don’t brands know how to talk to small businesses?
Tim Burrowes writes:
So here’s a challenge…
Try and think of a great car ad. Several will come to mind. Indeed, the same goes for almost any category. White goods, sportswear, electronics, FMCG; if there are consumer dollars, then marketers have commissioned iconic, effective advertising work.
Yet there’s one category where I’ve been unable to come up with an example of great work. And asking around, nobody else has been able to offer examples either: Small business banking.
Work targeting that SME - small and medium sized enterprises - sector comes in two flavours. Entirely functional, or utterly patronising.
I’ve been an SME owner myself for 15 years, all of that time in Australia. I cannot think of a single example when I’ve found myself impressed by the insights offered in a bank’s campaign targeting small businesses, or felt that it spoke to me.
You’ve got to go back nearly a decade to find an example of a memorable ad, let alone an effective one.
A rare example was NAB’s work, nine years ago now. A couple in a swanky restaurant try to decide whether to make a move with their business. They ask the owner for the secret of his success and, inexplicably, given that he understood the question, he replies in Italian with wisdom about ships not being meant to remain in the harbour.
But that never connected back to the brand. And I never thought for a moment that it was for me and my small business struggles. Its cut through was driven via a heft media spend.
Perhaps it’s an unreasonable ask. There are more than two million small businesses in Australia, all entirely different and therefore impossible to capture in one ad.
It creates a temptation to retreat to the most bland of point of difference.
In the last few days, I’ve been regularly seeing ads for ANZ’s business banking on my Instagram feed.
The message is “colour coordinate your business”. Whatever that means.
The accompanying text is even more banal: “A customised ANZ Visa Debit Card with ANZ Business Essentials. About the only time business should get personal.”
What? The proposition that business should only get personal in the colour of their company credit card is preposterous.
Nonetheless. Perhaps there’s an idea hidden in there. Businesses do take their brands seriously. I guess I’d be up for a credit card in Unmade yellow.
That’s not, however, what’s on offer. The bank is offering a choice of three colours - black, blue or bluey green.
Think of the business owner who’s just clicked on the ad, on the promise of colour coordination, trivial as that is. Assuming they are not already a customer, their first, tiny experience of the bank will be of an expectation unfulfilled. They were just promised customisation and personalisation. Not a choice of three bland colours unlikely to match their own brand.
It’s not fair to mention the agency behind the ad, because they can only work to the briefs they are given.
At the same time, most agency creative teams have never in their lives run a business themselves. But that’s the same in many categories in which they work. Yet in other categories, agencies find real insights and do great work. So why not small businesses?
Perhaps the problem is the larger truth that banks are less equipped than ever to help small businesses succeed. The era of a personal relationship with a bank’s business manager is over, as all the major players cut back on investment in branches.
But there have to be better options than the selling point of three shades of credit card.
The Index treads water
Seja Al Zaidi writes:
The Unmade Index was becalmed yesterday, blipping upwards by 0.16% to land at 625.7 points.
Print and marketing outfit IVE Group had the best of a calmer day. It lifted 2.43%, while Southern Cross Austereo followed with a 2.07% increase in its share price.
Domain rose 1.54%, and B2B company Aspermont saw an 11.11% rise.
Nine also had a positive day, lifting 0.50%.
Seven West Media had the worst day with a 4.62% fall, and Enero Group also performed poorly, falling 2.14%.
Time to leave you to your Wednesday.
We’ll be back with an audio-led edition tomorrow, in which we explore how Avid Collective is trying to help publishers deliver native content at scale.
Have a great day.
Publisher - Unmade