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SYDNEY -- Australia's St. George Bank launches its first major ad campaign in more than 18 months next week with a $4 million strategy designed to "refresh and reinvigorate" the brand.

The new campaign also represents the first work from ad agency Whybin Lawrence TBWA, which won the $30 million account four months ago, beating incumbent DDB Worldwide, Sydney.

"Our opportunity is simply to let people know that St. George has grown and developed, while still retaining those values of customer respect, which, in today's marketplace, set them up as a genuinely powerful banking alternative," said WLTBWA founder Neil Lawrence.

The launch TV ad focuses on a man committing social death at a barbecue by telling his host he is a banker. But his reputation is saved when he explains he works for St. George.

The campaign is the first noise to come out of St. George since the bank conducted a full internal review of its operations following the integration of the Advance Bank business. "We are half way down the track in terms of implementing the changes that review found we needed to make," spokesman Adam Cooke said. "There was a feeling that we had become too difficult to use for many of our customers following the Advance Bank integration."

The TV commercials are scheduled to run through September and will be supported by extensive outdoor and print advertising.

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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