Whybin\TBWA launches mentalist ANZ campaign

The agency that brought us Goldstein is now pushing another American—this time an Aussie, pretending to be an American, telling us about an Aussie bank. Confused?

The ad is ANZ's first global ad campaign, and features Aussie actor Simon Baker in character as The Mentalist's Patrick Jane. The campaign has been launched in Australia and Asia, with New Zealand soon to follow.

So far it has received mixed reviews in Australia and, unusually, the lips of Whybin's TBWA\ in New Zealand were closed, even those of the bank whisperer himself, Dave Walden, who's currently in Melbourne. But ANZ said in a statement the campaign "supports its super regional strategy and continues the evolution of ANZ's brand as customer centric and uncomplicated".

TBWA\ Melbourne has stuck with the 'We Live in Your World' tagline and brought in the character of Jane, who "uses his keen powers of observation, deduction, and knowledge of social engineering coupled with his genius to help lead the investigation" in the show, to tell you what you're thinking and what the bank does to make your life easier.

Joyce Phillips, a woman with a very long job title (ANZ group managing director strategy, M&A, marketing and innovation) says Jane "knows what people are thinking because he lives in their world. He's an observer of life and that's what we strive to be" (of course, as ASB can probably attest, banks that try to become too matey, insert themselves in customers' lives and portray themselves as loving, caring friends is usually pretty creepy). This makes him the "ideal personification of ANZ's brand as insightful, sophisticated, worldly but with a strong connection to Australia".

The problem, however, is that Baker is a fairly well-recognised Aussie actor playing a character from a reasonably popular US TV show and speaking in an American accent, so it's possibly not quite as uncomplicated (or Aussie-focused) as they'd all hoped. And, judging by the Twitterati's response, there has been quite a bit of confusion so far (someone's even made a spoof video).

Still, as Phillips says, the evolution of the brand through this campaign "reflects a need for a globally consistent campaign that supports our super regional strategy," and using an easy-on-the-eye celebrity (or, more accurately, a the fictional character he plays) is a good way of crossing borders.

"It will help build awareness and relevance of ANZ in our key emerging markets while reinforcing what it is that makes us different from other banks," she says. "This campaign is an exciting step forward in a journey we began 18 months ago with the launch of our new brand. This new campaign shows how we understand the needs of our customers, providing insights and delivering ideas that help people progress."

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