TBWA bags South Africa's biggest dot-com account

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JOHANNESBURG - TBWA Hunt Lascaris has been awarded the $2.5 million bluebean.com account by its major client, Standard Bank. It's believed to be one of the biggest dot-com advertising accounts awarded so far in South Africa.

Bluebean is an online shopping and banking environment that can be accessed with a transaction card using the bank's proprietary Secure Electronic Payment technology. Skepticism about payment security is a major reason for the slow rate of adoption of e-commerce in South Africa. The card also operates as an ordinary credit card and an automated cash card.

Standard, the country's second biggest banking group, is spending $12 million to launch the product this year. It hopes to secure 300,000 bluebean customers in five years.

Four TV commercials have already been produced by TBWA Hunt Lascaris, with another to follow as part of an integrated TV, cinema, print, radio and public relations campaign. Though the bank is already the agency's biggest client, the agency had to pitch for this project.

One TV spot shows an almost-empty shopping mall, peopled only by some bored-looking shopkeepers. "These days more people seem to be shopping online," runs the tagline.

In another, Trappist monks (who make a vow of silence) converse using small hand-written signs. "You look tired," says one. Another replies: "I've been shopping all night at bluebean."

The abbott enters. "Keep quiet. I can't hear myself think," he writes. "Techno-peasant," scribbles the online shopper.

Copyright August 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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