I CAN campaign

Since Absa relaunched its brand in 2018, the bank has been bedding down its new corporate identity in the market. In 2020, the plan was to launch a new positioning campaign to entrench what Absa stands for – bringing possibilities to life – and how each business unit relates to that key message and the concept of Africanacity. Absa defines this as “the distinctly African ability to always find ways to get things done”.

For Absa Retail and Business Bank (RBB), this meant going on a journey to discover how to communicate all the ways that it brings possibilities to life with one golden thread, and then communicating this in an authentic way.

Vongani Mageza, Head of Strategic Marketing at RBB, explains that this was an intensive process that included interviews with stakeholders throughout the value chain to understand perceptions of RBB, both internally and externally. This also helped to identify product features and benefits that set RBB apart in the market, so that these could be packaged in a way that reflects their innovation and captures the attention of customers.

The campaign that emerged was one that focused on the phrase “I CAN” from within Africanacity, with the tagline “We do more so you can. That’s Africanacity”. This was applied to various product anchor points or hero features, from Absa’s market-leading free digital fraud warranty to its 50% off bond registration fees offer. Mageza says that this campaign has been a shift from product information marketing to homing in on Absa’s real differentiators. While the campaign was originally ready for roll-out in April, Absa put the brakes on when COVID-19 struck. Yet the campaign messaging turned out to be perfectly suited for a later launch date. It both focuses on the positivity of possibilities (sorely needed in the wake of the pandemic) and highlights tangible benefits to consumers in a tough economic climate.

“What we decided to do is to put our heads down and really positioned Absa to say that during COVID-19, ‘We're here; we're a partner; we’re finding ways to make sure that you can still bank,’” says Mageza. “We launched the most comprehensive payment relief programme of all the banks. And I think that we were able to garner positive sentiment during the mid to the end of the hard levels of lockdown. We actually felt that our campaign was even more relevant, are we wanted to communicate that ‘we do more’ and we had proven that without even having to say it.”

The response to the campaign has been exceptional, from social media sentiment to internal adoption of the theme of “At Absa, we do more so you can”.

“The beautiful thing about that line is that it’s a very authentically Absa thing, which is why colleagues have just taken it and run with it,” says Mageza. “Because deep down, that’s what RBB stands for, and so it’s easy for us to own that.”