When A Bank LOL’s and Smugly Smiles at You

The Commercial Bank of Africa unveiled its new look, some time in October 2011. I will spare the details of the rebrand since much has been said about it- including the most confusing television advert – how does time for more (their positioning line) tie up to the kid going through school and his absentee dad building an empire. Anyone with insights can share them since my colleagues too are still scratching their heads (apart from the one with dreadlocks). An article by Kalgas Time for more: lessons for non-profits on rebranding from CBA tried to explain it, but all I heard was not close to what the ad said.

Nevertheless, I still give a SquaredFactor thumbs up to how the campaign was executed- right from the teaser adverts to the online campaign. The rebrand culminated in the bank’s efforts as it sought to upgrade products and services to meet the needs of its personal, corporate and SME customer segments.

So yesterday, CBA launched a US Dollar currency credit card and its advert in the Daily Nation today had me crumpling the paper up. . The insight informing this- they “have many clients whose primary income is paid in US dollars. In the past these clients would have had to convert their earnings into Kenyan shillings in order to make use of their income,” said a statement from the bank. These are highly sophisticated, well traveled and usually multi-banked individuals aged from around 40 years. “They lead busy lives and look to us for more convenience, savings and accessibility through our service”, added the bank.

Now, a USD Credit card for the target group described is well ok. The only qualm I have with the bank is when it places an advert in the newspaper rubbing it in on folks like me who don’t know how to go about opening a foreign account and only sees dollar specimen bills on advert. You know how we check if out Kenyan currency is fake- hold it to the light looking for a hidden lion, or that metal strip woven into the notes, or feeling Kenyatta’s Jacket to feel how rough it is? Well, I don’t know how to do the same for the dollar note!

Back to my misgivings. You see, the advert is placed on a pullout in the Thursday Nation newspaper called Money. Correct me if I’m wrong, this pullout is targeted at small to medium entrepreneurs. A flip through it will show you that many of the articles and pieces are skewed to those of us looking to make our enterprises work and survive the hard economic conditions. Above the placement of the CBA foreign currency card is apiece on investing in a matatu. The next page has the cover feature on how SME’s are facing an uphill task getting credit from banks. What wisdom (sic).

I wish CBA had left the USD credit card business to the editorial mentions they got on business news. I also hope they did a better media profiling for the print advert and placed the same on the Economist and Time magazines- or other caliber of magazines with their profiled target audience. I also hope they profiled their clients and had an e-shot/direct mail sent to them.

Surely, is it right to wave a foreign credit card at the faces of these people who don’t even have enough Kenyan shillings? Let me know.


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