UBank Boss Says No To TVCs For ReBrand

UBank Boss Says No To TVCs For ReBrand

The Tinder of Australian banking, UBank eschewed TV advertising in its brand relaunch earlier this year because as a disruptor brand it felt appropriate to try something different its CEO has told B&T.

David Hovenden
Posted by David Hovenden

Lee Hatton is a 15-year veteran of banking having held a range of senior positions within NAB, she took over the reins as CEO at UBank in February 2015, a fully owned but otherwise separate start-up bank. She was among the speakers at the Comms Council’s launch of research conducted by Deloitte that found the advertising contributed $40 billion to Australian GDP.

While she’s worked in banking for ever, the New Zealand born Hatton attributes her fellow Kiwi export Xero accounting software as opening her eyes to the power of cloud-based companies.

“Xero blew my mind in terms of what cloud could do. We get to take all this new technology and work out what consumers want and we know what they want, they want really simple banking,” she said.

She cites Warren Buffet who says he only invests in companies he likes, trusts and admires as being her inspiration when looking to forge partnerships. Creative agency the Monkeys was one such organisation according to Hatton.

Owing to its relatively small size, UBank employs around 200 people, she says you have to be really intimate.

“It was important that they [the Monkeys] were up for being part of this next evolution of UBank and they were willing to try something different.”

Although the Monkeys have been with UBank since its inception in 2008, Hatton said that the past 18 months have been pivotal in the consumer-only bank’s history.

“When we launched UBank we were new, so we were really disruptive so we could be crazy and provocative in a different way. But what had happened was that we had lost our way and we were starting to look a bit eclectic. Customers were starting to say ask us what we actually stood for.”

Hatton said that research was showing that we’d talked for years about disrupting banking, but no-one knew what that actually meant. People knew what UBank wasn’t, but it didn’t know what it was.

A lot of time in focus groups and conducting consumer research, and what UBank came up with was that people wanted to liberate banking. Provide banking that is simpler, better smarter, she says.

Remarkably for a bank, UBank arrived at the conclusion that perhaps what Australians really needed was less.

The All I Need project was born and a documentary was made. The premise for of the programme was that the Australian dream of owning your own home had been hijacked along the way and we found ourselves working the longest hours in the world to buy the biggest houses in the world. The result being Australians now find themselves miserable and stressed.

Central to the All I Need project is a 45-minute documentary hosted by Andrew Dado, which is as much a social experiment as it is a promotion for the bank.

“As a digital bank, the beauty of the documentary is that it gives the bank human faces for people to relate to,” Hatton said.

It also helped galvanize what the brand stood for culturally. “We had our people be part of the documentary. Staff watched it being filmed and made. There was a big viewing night in the office where everyone got to see it.”

The documentary has also been sliced and diced and parts of it are woven into the banks narrative. She said that staff at UBank consider themselves to be part of the brand. The long form content is a big pillar of the bank from every angle.

“It’s not to say we won’t do TV again, it’s just that as a disruptor we wanted to do something different.”