Brand individuality effort continues with ME's latest push for good

Chief marketing officer talks about the latest bold campaign and living under its new parent company, Bank of Queensland

Australia’s banks have not always enjoyed the strongest corporate reputations, consistently earning headlines that are best describe as bad news. So it takes a particularly bold perspective and a tonne of supporting proof points for a bank to muster the conviction that it deserves to be seen as a force for good.

But this is what Ingrid Purcell and her marketing team at ME have set out to achieve with their most recent campaign, which heavily leverages the word ‘good’ in relation to interactions with the bank and with money generally.

Headlined by a creative concept that reworks the George Thoroughgood classic, Bad to the Bone, the ‘Making money good’ campaign asks Australians to consider ME’s 25-year track record of helping Australians achieve their money goals. It is a bold standout in an industry more often beset by woes such as fee-for-no-service scandals and allegations of enabling money laundering.

According to Purcell, the campaign is the evolution of a brand strategy previously seen through the bank’s logo becoming its lead character, accompanied by musical repetitions of the word ‘me’.

Ingrid PurcellCredit: ME bank
Ingrid Purcell

“We found in the brand tracking research that people knew who we were, but not as much about us,” Purcell told CMO. “The same research also said that when people know about the ME brand story it really increases familiarity, but it also increases consideration.

“So we have entered a new phase where we are wanting to grow our familiarity and talk about who we are as a bank.”

Purcell engaged agency, Thinkerbell, alongside its internal agency, The Inside Job, to re-examine ME’s brand platform. What quickly emerged was discussion of the ‘good’ ME does.

“There are lots of things that we do that are proof points of making money good, whether it is the causes we support, or our products, our education programs, or what we do from a cultural perspective,” Purcell said.

“The confidence of using the platform came from who we were and why we were set up in the first, which was to help people get into their first home at a time when it was very difficult for people to do that 25 years ago. And we have consistently had proof points that have demonstrated that over the years.

“The individual proof points that we had all connected to being ‘good’ in different ways. I think good is a really powerful word, and the way that it was used was clever, in that it could be interpreted in a few different ways.”

That ideation process also led to the idea of making bad good, and hence the reinterpretation of Bad to the Bone.

With the initial campaign deployed in February, Purcell said Making Money Good will feed into future creative outputs.

“We felt confident that we had enough proof that we could go out with a platform like that, and we will continue to talk about that and build new proof points over the coming years,” she said.

Under a new parent umbrella

ME itself has recently undergone a number of changes, including its acquisition by the Bank of Queensland in February 2021, where it now sits alongside the earlier acquisition of Virgin Money.

Purcell said the strategy since then has been to maintain strongly individual brands. Her own role has changed significantly, however, since she joined ME in 2014 as general manager of brand and marketing, with Purcell now working as chief marketing officer across the group.

“Moving forward, it is about maintaining the brand individuality, and managing a portfolio of brands,” Purcell said. “The great thing is they play in different spaces in the market. It’s exciting, and the best of both worlds – being part of a group but also still maintaining the great brand that ME is.”

Where relations might get a little closer is in the operation of internal agency, The Inside Job, which evolved out of what was originally an internal design studio six years ago.

“They are living and breathing the brand, so they are advocates,” Purcell said. “It is really agile, and obviously cost effective, and they have great relationships.

“I am a firm believer your internal brand is as important as your external brand. If you can infuse your brand throughout your people experience, which having an internal in-house agency allows you to do, it creates a brand experience across all touch points.”

Hence Purcell said the success of The Inside Job for ME has attracted attention from elsewhere in the group, which could see the internal agency’s role expand over time.

“Overall, it is less layers, and a much more agile way of working,” Purcell added.

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