Bought & Sold: Frankly Speaking
OCBC FRANK WILD ADVERTISING
Intensive research and a thorough brief helped OCBC and Wild work through a massive project of launching a new youth brand. Elizabeth Low asks how the two came together to make the campaign work.
Two years ago, OCBC took a daring new step for a local bank, launching a completely new youth banking arm with a new brand name, aimed to make banking simple and relevant to youth.
Chng Bee Leng,(pictured, right) head of mass affluent, group marketing and global consumer financial services for OCBC Bank, says the Gen Y segment is an alluring one for most banks. Yet, it seems it remains a tricky one for these financial giants to tackle. For OCBC the challenge was no different. When it started out, it took the traditional approach thinking it could use its branch as an engagement platform. "But when we delved deeper into the target audience what we realised is they generally don't like banks. Our research told us they found banks very cold; the fine print not transparent and so on."
OCBC realised it had to build a new end-to-end product with customised experience and speak in a language specifically for youths. This included coming up with a completely new brand. So the team came up with a list of names and asked youths to choose their favourite, and Frank stood out.
"It reflected openness and transparency and went well with our brand values as well," Chng says.
That was when OCBC hired local boutique agency Wild Advertising & Marketing to flesh out the creative concept and where the brief was handed out in a rather unusual manner.
"When we turned up for the brief, they led us to a locked room to show a mock-up. Instead of meeting in a conference room they actually did up another room for us to really understand the product," says Ng Khee Jin(pictured, left), managing director and creative director of Wild Advertising & Marketing.
The store mock-up looked like it could pass for one selling sportswear or CDs, he adds.
"It was a good orientation, an immersion that helped us understand what the client exactly wanted."
Chng says everything in the project stemmed from intensive research - from the brand name to the ideas for the 130 different designs on its cards throughout the store - which helped her and her team pitch the idea to management for the drastically different marketing move on the bank's part.
"Everything was so ‘non-banking' and definitely there were challenges within the organisation, but having customer insights really helped a lot, so we could go back to management and say ‘this is what the young people are telling us'," Chng says.
The entire campaign ran largely online, aside from its retail branches, with key aspects on the website and the Frank Facebook page.
The website features functions such as financial tools to educate consumers on managing their own finances, giving tips on how to save, all in a tone appropriate to the audience. Ng says print advertising was a small part of the budget.
The agency also manages OCBC's social media platforms for Frank, which played a particular significance in the campaign. "We realised no one was calling the customer helpline, but posting their questions on Facebook. It's the way the young operate," Ng says.
It was a long and fairly significant project - were there any disagreements between OCBC and Wild? Both Chng and Ng say the process was "unusually smooth".
Chng thinks it is because the project was very much driven by research and insights from youths.
"Also I think Wild has been very open to taking in feedback from customers."
From the start, the OCBC team made sure to heavily involve the agency in its research, openly sharing its insights and even having the latter join its focus groups.
"Some of his (Ng) team were present to hear first-hand what Gen Y was telling us about a certain concept or design," she says.
Adds Ng: "It helped that everything was so thoroughly researched, that helped guide us.
"On our part, we were on our toes. We thought OCBC took a chance on us, we're an independent, we can't fail OCBC. On the other hand, we didn't just do everything the client wanted," adding mutual respect in the relationship was the key.
At present, the Frank account has gone on to be managed by McCann Erickson, after the latter won OCBC's overall account.
However, Chng says Wild still manages some parts of the campaign.
So what are the crucial things she and her team look for in an agency, especially for a project of this scale.
Creativity is one of course, came the reply. Then, it is the agency's responsiveness and its nimbleness to work with the team closely to quickly turn things around flexibly.
"Also, their quality of work is important," Chng says.
For Wild, it was with OCBC from day one of the project, so that made things easier. But what if an agency had to come in halfway on a project?
"It's the responsibility of the client to immerse an agency in what the customers think if they enter a project halfway or an account halfway. It helps that an agency has been with us from day one. It's a partnership, we don't have to brief them again."