Aussie Goes For Slogan Gold Before Packed US House

Aussie Goes For Slogan Gold Before Packed US House

With Tony Abbott giving all Australians a bad name on the global stage, it’s nice to know that there are some Aussies abroad doing the right thing to keep our national popularity above that of New Zealand’s.

David Hovenden
Posted by David Hovenden

Such was the case with NAB’s general managing of digital, Todd Copeland, who joined Adobe’s John Mellor and Time Warner Cable’s Rob Roy in front of 7000 delegates at the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit this week.

Copeland was speaking about the role of culture in adapting to change in a digital world. What he was really doing, was flying the Aussie flag as proud owners of the masters of the one-liner.

Copeland’s performance was a thing of beauty. While Mellor wheeled away asking sensible questions about overcoming cultural inertia and a fear of the unknown, Copeland took command of the stage with the unlikely pairing of the first game of Aussie Rules football and Abraham Lincoln’s entry into the US Senate.

He unveiled that the two events both occurred in 1858, which was in fact the very year that NAB first opened its doors for business. Boom! Look Americans, even though you probably don’t know what Aussie Rules Football is, we know all about your dead presidents.

However Copeland was merely laying the foundations for his 14-minutes of geek fame. While explaining the 156-year-old institution had 43,000 staff (although he of course called them people) and 30 million customers, he trotted out the statistics that 90% of interactions with customers happened digitally and 65% of those interactions were through a mobile device.

How did you do this for the tetchy modern day customer effectively? Why through “effortless consistency”, of course. Nice!

Then, drilling down on what his sleek two-worder actually meant, which was that of the 65 per cent of mobile users, only 10 per cent of them were mobile only, Copeland was zeroing in on his next well-prepared line.

“Time is the currency of experience . . .” Oh my! And then: “If you can’t operate at the speed your customers expect, then you lose.”

He then explained that “our customers tell us very quickly through social media and other channels when we make it hard. So effortless consistency is very important”.

This was getting too much for Mellor who knew he was being upstaged by a hidden pro that he was meant to be coaxing the nuggets of gold from. He quickly turned back to his fellow American from Time Warner Cable to try and restore the balance. I, of course, zoned out until Copeland could once again be given the cue to speak.

Finally Mellor asked him about the importance of structure. Our little Aussie battler grasped his moment with aplomb. Not only did he have another line to go, but he shared the glory and no doubt secured his future for a little longer by giving it to his boss.

“Our CEO once said to me, ‘42,000 people can’t all report to me, so structure’s important.”

Mellor grabbed back the initiative, but it would only be for a moment.

I tuned out thinking the show was over only to have a new pearler from Copeland jar me back awake: “Less PowerPoint more prototypes”.

I, of course, had no idea what he meant but Mellor, by now aware that he had to go with the greater strength himself applauded Copeland’s snappy phrase and in the process explained that what it meant was you should forget about getting approval for things and just start testing them on real live customers.

Copeland then told us that NAB was all about “putting the customer first”, okay that one even the Americans have heard Todd, but don’t worry we’ve got faith in you mate, I thought.

Meanwhile Cable guy Roy was starting to get in on the act and suggested that he liked staff that were “willing to wear multiple hats”.

Copeland of course couldn’t have this, so he immediately jumped in with his own hiring tip of “mindset over skillset”.

But that was just a warning shot over the bough, the real broadside was in the post: “Remember the old adage [just a side note Todd: all Adages are old] of hire for aptitude, fire for attitude.”

Then there was something about people who can live our values and my interest waned, but then another anecdote was out of his mouth about Disney and yes here it was another rehearsed line: “give people the freedom within the framework”.

Cable guy showed he had some spirit by giving a final thought that “the more pushback you get the better job you’re doing”, but Copeland came home with a wet sail by closing with: “When you hit the wall, keep going.”

And then it was over. The music came up, a video splashed up on the 10-metre tall screen that stretched for a full 50metres behind the stage and when we focused again, Todd was gone.

In two days of keynote presentations we had only one Antipodean representative, but what an innings, well played sir!