Commonwealth Bank “Call You Back”

Here’s an exceptionally clever bank commercial, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. In a mannered, stylized fashion, the commercial lets viewers know that Australia’s Commonwealth Bank keeps its promise when one of its bankers vows to call a customer back. Black-and-white, slow-motion footage shows a woman fainting from sheer astonishment when she receives such a call from her Commonwealth banker, after which she is revived by a delegation of handsome young men from the bank. A next-door neighbor, who’d like to receive similar attention, feigns a swoon of her own. It’s all done skillfully, with a keen eye to visual detail (such as the large leaves with which the Commonwealth men fan our protagonist as she regains consciousness). You’ll enjoy watching it. But I can’t help feeling that the arch tone of the spot works at cross purposes with the substance of its message. The selling proposition is that Commonwealth, unlike other banks, will do its utmost to serve you and to keep the promises it makes to that end. A commercial that revels in its own cleverness (including the voiceover’s explicit references to the fact this is a commercial) tends to subvert that message, as it leaves you feeling Commonwealth might be a bit full of itself. No doubt the Australians differ from us in their sense of humor. Still, the sales point Commonwealth wishes to make seems one that calls more for sincerity than for irony. –Mark Dolliver