Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Westpac uses CSR in marketing

September 2007

Westpac bank is claiming to have become the first Australian company outside the energy sector to use its community and environmental programmes in its mass marketing. The company believes its new approach will help expand its business and carry a message that is different from those of its banking rivals.

Mike Pratt, the bank’s group consumer financial services executive, said the sustainability policies in Westpac’s Every Generation campaign are aimed at attracting new customers and creating loyalty among existing clients.

Pratt said: ‘The question is whether sustainability really generates business at the customer level. We believe it does. This is not something we saw as being opportunist. We’ve been involved with our sustainability programme well before it was a popular issue.’

Paul Gilding, chief executive of the Ecos Corporation business consultancy, said: ‘I’m increasingly impressed by Westpac. They don’t have to do it. If you are selling coal, gas, oil or dirty electricity, you need to be addressing these issues. But Westpac is a bank. For them to see it as an opportunity to connect with the market is very interesting. It’s about time companies recognized there is a huge brand positioning opportunity in getting this stuff right.’

He congratulated Westpac, BP and the insurance group IAG for being among the few companies to challenge the Australian government on climate change when it was unfashionable.

Gilding said: ‘When the rest of the business community was running scared of offending the Howard government on climate change, they were very strong advocates. Everyone’s doing it now.’

However, Westpac was warned that accusations of greenwash could accompany its new campaign. Nigel Marsh, creator of the Earth Hour project, the WWF campaign, and chairman of the advertizing agency Leo Burnett, said: ‘We’re in for a tidal wave of inauthenticity. There will be people who do it genuinely and, like any fad, there will be a whole bunch of pretenders. If Westpac is actually doing it and not just saying it, the company should be applauded.’

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