by Colin Jowell

With so much talk around the significant changes in payments, the launch of the Commonwealth Bank PayTag is one worth watching*. And it is a real case for the important role that marketing and communications still plays in a world where innovation is expected to go viral, or bust.

There would have been a lot at stake with this one. Their previous attempt at mobile banking involved considerable cost and inconvenience to the customer - a clunky case to go around the phone was the final insult. But the lessons they learned in that process may well be worth what it cost them.

The PayTag campaign is integrated in the best sense. Too often, integration is executed as “Matching Luggage”. The brand ad must match the direct mail must match the e-mail etc etc. Whereas the real goal actually to create pieces of an engaging puzzle - easy to put together and revealing the outcome in a truly satisfying way.

What stands out in this campaign is that they have used both traditional and emerging channels together to great effect. There is the traditional big brand ad - while it may not win creative awards, it’s crafted well to deliver a fun and well-branded message. It even manages to pull off the neat trick of showing you the next piece in the puzzle - the New Commbank app. While this could be dismissed as a tad cheesy, it actually demonstrates restraint. There was no picture of the PayTag itself, or happy customers tapping away. Considering that they are launching an entirely new behaviour, not physically showing the behavior in the launch advert is actually a brave move, having faith that other elements in the communication mix would do their job.

As for emerging channels: even though an eDM would have been really cheap, that would have created a disconnected experience. Instead the next call to action was delivered on mobile, where in a few taps I could download the new app. Opening it, the offer of the new PayTag was front and centre. Some may criticize the fact that they bothered to charge for it, a decidedly manageable $2.50. But the price is smart behavioural economics - pretty painless, but enough to get me invested in actually buying something. Which means of course we'll use it. The welcome pack arrived within days, with a lot more show and tell and no silly reference to the tap-dancers in the brand ad to confuse me. But here’s the catch - my first few attempts to activate the card failed. Glitchy. And yet I’ve persevered because the marketing led conversion was so slick.

It all sounds pretty straightforward, but too many times we see campaigns where every element is carrying way too much freight to be effective. Or worse, we don’t see them at all because we just tune them out: A brand ad laden with facts, demonstrations and calls to action. A direct mailer hopelessly failing to recapture the emotion of a TV commercial while clouding what it is one actually wants the customer to do. This is often done because of the very real fear that the audience won’t see every element in the campaign. What this case demonstrates, is that it really doesn’t matter:

  • Choose your channels carefully.
  • Create a great end to end experience.
  • Let each touchpoint do its job.


Get that right and you can be assured your customer will do the rest. Even if the product you are selling isn’t 100 % perfect, a well executed launch can buy you all the forgiveness you may need.

*Full Disclosure- I am a CommBank customer, and used to work on the account. All the more reason for me to critique them - Quite the opposite in this case.