It’s not often that a bank invokes the spectre of death in its advertising –outside of life insurance plans at least. The National Bank came close when it used a few bars from The Verve’s Bitter Sweet Symphony in its commercials. The lyrics, not heard in the commercials, intone “you’re a slave to money and then you die”. Fitting perhaps, but hardly something that will attract customers.
The Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) has thought differently, with its new advertising jingle “I’m going to work till I die.” The song has aired on The Rock and Radio Hauraki notably two stations whose audience is at work, the former having a “no repeat work day” (which of course refers to songs- advertising, such as “I’m going to work till I die” repeats over and over throughout the work day.)
Four different versions of the song exist, geared toward different occupations. One song includes “I’m gonna be a builder till I’m 94, Knocking down walls and laying floors.” While a white collar version mentions being in middle management until age 83. The other two versions target dentists and cleaners. At the beginning of its run, these commercials didn’t even state what was being advertised (and who could guess?) but later airings revealed it was for a BNZ KiwiSaver scheme.
“There’s no guarantee that New Zealand Superannuation will provide for you at its current levels when it’s your time to retire,” reads the BNZ website. This is not inaccurate; future governments could reduce or restrict entitlements to superannuation, just as the current government has for student allowances and domestic purposes benefits (superannuation is a bigger share of the welfare budget than these and all other benefits combined).
What BNZ fails to mention however is something you can read on the official Kiwisaver website: “KiwiSaver is not guaranteed by the Government. This means you make your investment choices in a KiwiSaver scheme at your own risk.”
Unsurprisingly many have found the commercial offensive. A hundred people die in the workplace every year in New Zealand, and the thought of continuing to work until death is not a pleasant one. “The fact that you mock me incessantly with your ”I’m going to work till I die” radio advert is a choice your company has made. It is a very poor one”, Read a letter to The Press. The BNZ Facebook page attracted similar comments; “you have really missed the mark with your current ad campaign. Not funny at all” and “polarizing your entire customer base as idiots who can’t save…I already put my savings into another bank.”