Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Westpac's retail chief Peter Hanlon lost his job Monday.
Gail Kelly announced she was moving him on to a new position - group executive, people and tranformation. He moves February 1. Good luck to him.
That night he sent an email to customers - the "bananas" email.
Julian Lee has the story in the Herald, along with the "bananas video" he attached.
This is the man who chaired a community consultation about rates pain last Monday, unleashed a double-sized rate rise Tuesday, and sent out the mating call of the banks Wednesday, and had the NAB rebuff it big time Thursday.
Here's Julian's story:
IN THE world according to Westpac, mortgages are much like banana smoothies, and the cost of borrowing money is like the cost of bananas.
All of this will be news to the hundreds of thousands of Westpac customers who received an email on Monday night from the bank's retail chief explaining its supercharged interest rates.
The email from Peter Hanlon included an animated video, Cool Bananas, that justifies the bank's decision to raise interest rates across its variable mortgages by 45 basis points, nearly double the Reserve Bank's recent 25-basis-point rate increase.
The clip begins with the words ''once upon a time'' and tells how the price of banana smoothies rose after storms ravaged banana plantations and pushed up the price of bananas...
''That's why the price of smoothies increased by 50 cents,'' says the voice. ''In some ways a bank is really just like a company that sells banana smoothies. A bank is a business that buys and sells something … only in this case that something is money.''
The voiceover is accompanied by images of storms lashing banana trees and a Westpac branch. Westpac justifies its actions by saying that if it failed to raise interest rates then it would not be in business ''tomorrow'' and would not ''be there'' for its customers.
A spokeswoman said it was made two months ago to help staff understand the global financial crisis. Based on feedback it was given a wider airing. ''We are trying to use a visible example of bananas and how their price was affected by the cyclone in Queensland [in 2006] to explain a complex issue. Our intentions were honourable, and [we] thought it a useful tool.''
But marketing experts said the bank was only digging a larger hole. ''This long-winded parable of Westpac being like a banana seller in a storm on a tropical island somewhat beggars belief,'' said Stephen Pearson, head of the ad agency Lowe Worldwide.
''The style and tone is quite child-like, and for any educated person [it is] likely to be seen as condescending.''
Richard Foster, head of the Financial and Consumer Rights Council, also criticised it, coming as it did off the back of comments yesterday by the Westpac chief banana, Gail Kelly, that customers would not be hurt by the rise.
''When a mortgage holder is experiencing stress and housing affordability, I don't think they are going to be overly impressed that Westpac says it is helping them by putting up rates.''
. So Westpac flew all these community representatives to Sydney for a meeting, then...
. Westpac blows it - big time
. The mating call of the banks
. Westpac's gutsy, greedy, ineptly-handled cash grab