Why Vandals Attacked a Gay Pride-Themed ATM (It's Not What You Think)

Bizarre Protest Against Popular 'GAYTM' Campaign Is From Unexpected Quarter

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A New Zealand 'GAYTM' at its unveiling; it was later splashed with paint.
A New Zealand 'GAYTM' at its unveiling; it was later splashed with paint.
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Banks aren't generally known for risk-taking marketing campaigns, but ANZ bank scored a hit in Australia last year by turning ordinary ATMs into "GAYTMs," decking them out in rainbows, fur, sequins and studs to celebrate a famous LGBT festival in Sydney. The campaign from ANZ and Whybin TBWA Group Melbourne went viral globally and won the Grand Prix for the outdoor category at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. (Ad Age's Creativity also named GAYTMs the best 2014 campaign in the print/outdoor/design area).

The diversity campaign started up again in Australia this month and also jumped to neighboring New Zealand – but there it ran into some trouble. Last week, vandals splashed paint on a rainbow-colored GAYTM in Auckland, just before an LGBT pride parade. It was quickly cleaned up. But the same branch was targeted again this week, with pink paint dumped on the bank's windows.

Pinkwashing

Many people initially assumed the vandalism was the work of homophobes. "Sadly some people still ignorant & intolerant," tweeted the bank, which has been donating proceeds from GAYTM transactions by non-ANZ customers to a non-profit counseling service for people struggling with their sexuality.

Then an anonymous manifesto popped up online from a group calling itself "Queers Against Injustice."

It said it targeted the GAYTM "firstly to draw attention to the commercialization of the Pride Festival."

"As queer subjects, we object to the representation of queer identity in terms of consumptive and wealthy citizens," the statement said.

The group also said it wanted to draw attention to ANZ's treatment of its workers. (A dispute over pay and conditions led some workers to strike recently.)

The paint attack on a GAYTM in New Zealand.
The paint attack on a GAYTM in New Zealand.

It wasn't clear whether the same group was behind the second attack on Auckland's Ponsonby Road branch. But posters explaining the action were stuck to the bank's façade, including a definition of "pinkwashing" as "a term used to describe how the LGBTQIA struggle is co-opted to whitewash over unethical behavior."

The bank posted photos of the newest vandalism on Twitter, writing, "Shame people resort to vandalism to make a statement. Staff – str8 & LGBTI alike – gutted."

The New Zealand Herald reported that two police stations and another ordinary ANZ ATM had also been hit with paint attacks. The bank didn't immediately respond to emails seeking more information.

A TBWA spokeswoman declined to comment and directed attention to supportive comments from the LGBT community on the bank's Facebook page.

LGBT group RainbowYOUTH tweeted that it was upset by the attacks and that the bank had been generous in its support. It added: "Whatever your beliefs, destroying the creativity of others ain't the answer."