In 2014, ANZ came to advertising agency TBWA asking for a program ad to run around Mardi Gras.
The bank had just increased its sponsorship of the celebration from sponsor to premium partner and wanted to announce its commitment.
What ensued was the hugely successful and internationally acclaimed ‘GAYTM’ campaign.
Based around the original Mardi Gras concept of “out of the bars and into the streets”, the campaign looks to take ANZ’s support for Mardi Gras into streets around Australia.
Speaking at yesterday’s Changing the Ratio annual conference, TBWA executive partner Ricci Meldrum recalls how progressive the bank’s stance was at the time.
“Thankfully now corporate activism and corporate advocacy are much more common, but at the time ANZ was an absolute pioneer,” she said.
“For a conservative organisation like a bank to come out loud and proud, beyond their walls and beyond page 63 of their annual report and really stand up for what they believe in was an incredibly bold move and we thought of a bold campaign to match that.”
TBWA soon came back to the bank with “a sketch of an ATM with feathers and rhinestones” and the rest was history.
The campaign coincided with the early days of Instagram in Australia.
Seeing the potential for the platform to take GAYTMs viral, TBWA convinced ANZ to create an Instagram page and throw some extra force behind running it.
Keeping it fresh
The inaugural 2014 campaign was a resounding success but with the threat of second-year syndrome rife the following year, TBWA and ANZ knew they could not afford to be complacent.
“What we did is we listened to the community,” said Meldrum.
“Every time we went out we thought, ‘what’s going on in the world that we can respond to?'”
2015 took on ‘The Only GAYTM in the village campaign, while the 2016 campaign saw an entire rebrand to ‘GAYNZ’, including a branch takeover on Oxford Street entirely “transformed into a baroque-inspired homage to queer culture”.
The 2017 ‘Hold Tight’ campaign followed a spate of unsuccessful attempts for marriage equality and urged Australians to remain hopeful, which Facebook reported doubled the conversation around the topic on its site at the time.
Sure enough by Mardi Gras 2018, the marriage equality law had passed through parliament.
“We had to celebrate it, we came full-circle and went back to ‘YAYNZ,'” said Meldrum. “Each year we responded to what was happening in the community.”\
Dealing with backlash
Coming out with such a bold campaign, ANZ and TBWA knew there would be backlash from certain parts of the community.
What they didn’t know was that the campaign would look after itself.
“The encouraging thing was how overwhelmingly positive it was,” Meldrum said.
“The community came out and actually spoke and managed the issue on our behalf.”