[SMK] Social Media Knowledge


CommBank can admit they’re behind can’t

After a mysterious public teaser campaign featuring the word ‘Can’t’ and the website whatiscant.com.au, CommBank have claimed responsibility for the campaign. They claim the Can campaign encapsulates their new approach.

Chief Marketing & Online Officer, Andy Lark says the campaign idea came from dialogue with customers and employees, who referred to the role the bank plays in peoples lives – in purchasing new cars and homes and in major life milestones like getting married and dream holidays. “‘Can’ sends a really strong message that that is the attitude, that is the ethos that we are going to bring when you come to talk to us,” said Lark (speaking with Mumbrella).


Lark says the campaign of teasers including billboards and public events featuring the word can’t: a 3D chalk drawing, a puzzle, a custom sandcastle and a huge truck with the characters of CAN’T driving around iconic Sydney locations and some irritating lollipop people, were intended to create mindshare and “get the conversation going.”


As Can’t gathered momentum, several brands unrelated to the campaign jumped on board. Heritage Bank was quick to point out that ‘can’t is a words big banks use’, ANZ referenced the campaign in a tweet and most noteably, Greenpeace took a full page in MX leveraging the campaign.


CommBank’s twitter is awash with gratuitous use of the word can’t. As a hashtag, #cant is awkward – both because the hashtag won’t work with an apostrophe – and because it’s such a commonly used hashtag that the stream is infiltrated with unrelated chatter.


Whilst Commonwealth Bank have backed their website whatiscant.com.au with paid search, similarly, Heritage Bank have promoted their response in paid search.

Website takeover

Commonwealth Bank have taken over their own website with a retro space invaders game, where the letter T in can’t can be shot away, revealing can and the bank’s logo. It’s an uneasy segue for customers who aren’t familiar with the campaign and perhaps unsettling, as revealed by questions to the brand’s Twitter account.

Let us explain

The campaign will no doubt be compared to NAB’s much-lauded break up campaign and NAB’s major advantage is that the break up campaign’s message was clear, whilst Can is a more esoteric idea, explained in a poem. Blackberry’s Wake Up campaign suffers the same weakness, in that the hyped ‘Wake Up’ message is now needing to be explained in billboards of copy.

Target audience

Whilst promoted through mass media, the campaign appears to be skewed towards women. Interestingly there are references to finding independence, ‘She can’t think about leaving or searching for more,’ pointing to a particularly niche market.

CommBank Can’t poem

There’s a four lettered word
As offensive as any
It holds back the few
Puts a stop to the many.

You can’t climb that mountain
You can’t swim that sea
You can’t become anything you want to be.

He can’t hit a century
They can’t find a cure.
She can’t think about leaving
or searching for more.

Can’t is a word with a habit of stopping
The ebb and flow of idea
It keeps dropping itself where we know
in our hearts it’s not needed
And saying “don’t go”
when we could have succeeded.

But those four little letters
That end with a T
They can change in an instant
When shortened to three.

We can take off the T
We can do it today
We can move forward not back
We can find our own way.

We can build we can run
We can follow the sun
We can push we can pull
We can say I’m someone
Who refuses to think
That life can’t be better
With the removal of one
Insignificant letter.

Television commercial

The first television commercial, launching the campaign sees Toni Collette reading the poem in front of the Can’t lettering. The ‘t’ in can’t disappears to revel the CommBank logo. A following TVC will outline Commbank’s services.

Toni Collette

The use of actress Toni Collette as spokesperson for the campaign was critised on social media as people felt she didn’t fit with a large bank. CommBank sees Collette as an excellent example of Can, considering she left school at 15, grew up in Sydney’s working class Blacktown and ‘her father was a truck driver.’

News Alive

CommBank partnered with News Australia Sales to create News Alive, an augmented reality app which uses second screens (iPhone and iPad) to enhance users’ print media experience with animation, 3D video and sound. The app launched yesterday with The Sunday Mail, The Sunday Herald Sun, The Sunday Telegraph and The Sunday Times in print and online delivering an estimated reach reaching of almost five million Australians.


The Can campaign is being used internally at CommBank to promote a can-do customer service attitude.


The campaign to date certainly has gained mainstream media attention, and no doubt the attention of consumers. The next stage of the campaign will determine how many of those who have been touched by the campaign become customers.

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