NAB Spams Blogs. Australian Blog Owners Need To Change Banks

June 16, 2008 — 58 Comments

I simply ask this: could I walk into a branch of the National Australia Bank and openly promote my business to those in attendance? I’d encourage EVERY Australian blogger who has an account to the National to close it.

From today’s Crikey (not quite reprinted in full, but as it’s subscription only, reprinted enough so you get the core idea):

Last week, the National Australia Bank ?¢‚Ǩ?ìspammed?¢‚Ǩ¬ù the comments sections of private blogs in an attempt to secure free promotion for the launch of its new SMS banking service. NAB is standing behind this decision.

Last Thursday, an anonymous message was posted to the comments section of an article about the recent controversies surrounding Sam Newman on the AFL Player Spectator blog…the message was out of context and irrelevant, promoting an event at Melbourne?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s Federation Square and a ticket give-away:

“Hi guys, NAB is giving away free tickets to the Collingwood v Carlton game on Saturday afternoon @ the MCG. Hop on down to Fed Square tomorrow?¢‚Ǩ¬¶ this is all to launch the new NAB SMS Banking! Thank you”….

NAB media relations spokesperson Felicity Glennie-Holmes confirmed that the message was indeed from the bank. The idea to spam the comments sections of private blogs was a recommendation of PR agency Cox+Inall, part of the BWM group, and had been undertaken by Cox+Inall with the bank?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s full knowledge and approval.

Cox+Inall had searched for blogs that included AFL coverage and were ?¢‚Ǩ?ìwell-enough read to attract readers who might be interested in our offer,?¢‚Ǩ¬ù said Ms Glennie-Holmes. No-one at NAB or at Cox+Inall had considered approaching blog owners first for permission before posting their promotional messages, she said.

?¢‚Ǩ?ìBlogs are a public forum?¢‚Ǩ¬ù, said Ms Glennie-Holmes. NAB and Cox+Inall felt this meant commercial interests could feel free to contribute unsolicited and irrelevant commercial material as comments, placing the onus on blog moderators to reject or delete unwanted comments.

?¢‚Ǩ?ìWe identified five or six blogs where we felt we?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢d give it a try,?¢‚Ǩ¬ù explained Ms Glennie-Holmes. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìWe chose blogs where we thought the moderators would review and decide whether or not to carry our message?¢‚Ǩ¬¶it was up to the blogger to decide whether they would leave the comment there or delete it.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù

The fact that the message posted to the blogs was ?¢‚Ǩ?ìvery openly promotional?¢‚Ǩ¬ù and not deceptive also justified the bank?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s conduct, Ms Glennie-Holmes said.

Despite this openly promotional objective and targeting blogs based on their readership and web traffic, NAB ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú which reported a net profit of $4.6 billion last year ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú at no time considered remunerating bloggers, who typically blog in their own spare time and without sponsorship.

On its website, under the heading ?¢‚Ǩ?ìKey points to help protect yourself online?¢‚Ǩ¬ù, NAB advises its customers to ?¢‚Ǩ?ìDelete spam emails and do not open email attachments from strangers. Consider using a SPAM filter.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù

However, Ms Glennie-Holmes said she didn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t see anything contradictory in the bank stressing online safety and security and warning customers about spam when it was itself adopting a communications strategy based on spamming private blogs.

Absolute scum bags and a disgrace to the Australian corporate community. Boycott the NAB now.

58 responses to NAB Spams Blogs. Australian Blog Owners Need To Change Banks

  1. I am shocked and appalled – that is an absurd attitude to have, to leave a trail of debris and expect the people who's gardens you're dumping your crap in to clean it up. Absolutely disgraceful. I'm glad I shut down my NAB account last year – saves me the trouble of having to do it now, because I would certainly do so on the basis of this move by the NAB alone. Truly unconscionable. You'll be hearing more from me National Australia Bank!

  2. Perhaps there should be a campaign where bloggers harangue NAB customers entering/exiting branches with useless commercial info.

  3. Was linked thanks to NathanaelB and am rightfully appalled also. Will be contacting my bank tomorrow regarding removing my accounts from there. Totally disgusting.

    Yet another reason why I have comments on my blog set for all to be moderated before posting.

  4. I have always had the opinion that NAB is great to have shares in if the only thing you care about is making money.

    On the other hand, it's the last bank I would ever consider for my banking needs and I have always had the felling that moral values are not really a big consideration in the way NAB deals with customers, business partners, employees, and the environment.

  5. LOL. I have had my travel blog spammed by Jetstar Airlines. As a long time NAB customer I could probably give you 101 reasons why you shouldn't bank with them.

  6. I just got spam commented by someone claiming to be a marketing company working for Centrebet. I am not sure I buy that but I am emailled Centrebet to see if it is right. The Spam points to a site for a sporting event free tickets give away (not AFL footy like my blog is about).
    Wouldn't it be funny if it was the same marketing company.
    Molly

  7. seems like NAB had a strategy to do some spam and get focused by bloggers as hot topic for next few days

  8. I think they call it SEO 😉

  9. This is really, really clueless. Can't a multi-billion dollar bank come up with a better e-marketing strategy? Geez… why don't they start a social website for financial advice swapping?

  10. That's really bad, I'll consider changing my credit card to another bank…

    They could take a leaf out of Dove's promotion book.

  11. Blogs, in fact, are not a public forum. Blogs are privately owned, and successful blog owners exercise close control over the content on their sites. Advertisers have to pay for the privilege of being promoted on a blog. NAB was essentially trying to steal free advertising instead of purchasing it.

  12. I don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t think it was a smart thing to do by any means but I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m struggling to feel any outrage over this.

    They picked 5 or 6 blogs that were on topic. I doubt whether they saw it as spamming.

    Do you think that people immersed in the blogging scene can be unforgiving of newcomers? Maybe the PR company should have known better and NAB as well but I know that it can be easy to make mistakes at first and not obey all the social ?¢‚Ǩ?ìrules?¢‚Ǩ¬ù.

    Bloggers invite comments and each blogger develops a policy for dealing with them. I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢d guess that most bloggers delete openly promotional comments even if they are somewhat on topic. So NAB won?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t get very far with this tactic. I just don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t relate to the reactions here that?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s all.

  13. I am not sure I understand you correctly? Are you saying that your happy for people to come onto your site and try to sell things that have little to do with your blog? I mean I see yours is on SEM, should I head over and fill your comments up with plugs for my Footy site? I wouldn't have thought so!

    I can understand that they might not know the rules, but when challenged to say ?¢‚Ǩ?ìBlogs are a public forum?¢‚Ǩ¬ù and not even give an appology is not just making one mistake its a sign of total arragence.

    Maybe this is an over reaction, but maybe it is better that we over react now before some marketing hot shot thinks that this was a winning idea and starts selling it to all there clients! I am already having interesting talks with Centrebet about a SPAM comment that points to one of their sites. It isn't even close to being on topic (its about rugby and my site is AFL). The NAB one was sillier as it was giving tickets to AFL on a site thats only purpose is bagging out AFL Players!

    So to any marketers out there! This isn't a good idea. If you want to get on Bloggers Blogs talk to the owner and advertise!
    Molly

  14. Well obviously you?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re not understanding me correctly given that you managed to draw that conclusion from my comment.

    I do agree with your second paragraph that they could have handled the criticism differently.

    I guess what I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m saying is that there?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s all the talk about the need for businesses to do things differently and become more conversational in their marketing style. Now I know that this effort was more like barging in on someone else?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s conversation and I didn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t say it was a good thing. I just think that they didn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t get it but so will a lot of businesses not get it at first. I just couldn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t understand the scale of the reaction and the call for a boycott. It just didn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t make sense to me at all.

    It?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s not quite the same but it made me remember when I first started reading blogs. I read a post on a well known blog, really got something out of it and left a comment like ?¢‚Ǩ?ìgreat post, thanks?¢‚Ǩ¬ù. The comment wasn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t published and, probably co-incidentally, the very next day the blogger posted a big rant on comment spammers including those that add no value and put things like ?¢‚Ǩ?ìgreat post, thanks?¢‚Ǩ¬ù. It was my first introduction to the ?¢‚Ǩ?ìrules?¢‚Ǩ¬ù of how and how not to do things.

    I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m NOT defending what they did. I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m just putting my opinion that I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m surprised by this level of outrage over it.

  15. Perhaps you are right, but the blogger involved did the right thing and tried to contact the companies involved and they fresh aired him. Not the way to deal with a misunderstanding.

    On your experience, I am sure it would have been better if they had wrote something too you and said that although they appreciated it, it was the right thing to do. The blogger in question has seemed to have done that and as I said was fresh aired.

    Is boycotting needed? Probably not, but thats the way these things go.

    Lastly, marketers in history have done some slimey things. They also are paid thousands of dollars to get it right. Perhaps they should take a minute to research what they are going to do before they do it rather then shoot first and ask questions later!

    Molly

  16. OK people – here's a link to my blog where you can read the offending comment and get a bit of background as to my efforts to get them to come clean. (Thanks, Crikey and Stephen Downes, for digging deeper on this one!)

    In hindsight and in light of the details (ie six or seven “relevant” blogs, manually added) I'm satisfied that this doesn't necessarily qualify as “spam”. Personally, I think NAB was clumsy, artless and little bit rude. I'm not sure a full-on boycott is warranted as there's always going to be teething problems engaging with a new media, but seriously: blogging has been around for many years now and I'm pretty sure the people involved are all earning in the top 5%. They really should be better at their jobs.

    Besides, even a cursory look at the content would reveal that I am persona non grata with the AFL (whom NAB sponsors). All that talk of footballer rape, booze, bashings, drugs etc. Not a good look for the bank!

  17. Duncan, I assume you aren't with NAB, or else you would know there are 1000 other reasons not to be with them too!

    I *finally* left them last year after years of frustration and annoyance. To sum it up, the customer is always wrong with NAB, and NAB is always right.

    The only good news, I hear they're going to change their slogan to “Our profit is your loss”. 😉

  18. Thank you for bringing this one to light… I am absolutely shocked with the fact that they were so confident they didn't do anything wrong. Would the equivalent in 'old media' be breaking into Fairfax's printing office and placing a yellow stickie on the sports page of the saturday paper… Please PR people don't let your colleagues stoop to this level or you'll never change your image and people will continue to distrust you and ignore the good work done in the PR world.

  19. If every aussie blogger emailed every board member of the NAB they would have to react and at the very least cease and desist.

    Very easy to get their email addresses. I can't believe they did this. It will be on my show next week!

    Thanks for the heads up on this one Duncan for those of us that do not subscribe to Crikey.

  20. Ignorance is no excuse.
    ESPECIALLY for a business. My business is online marketing and what NAB did sux big time. There is no need for it and it gives the rest of the legit online marketers a bad name.
    The PR Agency obviously does not have a clue. They'd probably use all caps in a forum/chat as well. A noob I can excuse but not a business noob. It was a sloppy, naive attempt. If they had of employed an agency who knew what they were doing it would not have even been contemplated. ANyone seriously involved in online marketing knows the difference between white hat and black hat but this was a bloody clowns hat. Bottom line is that it is rude. The fact that they then try to defend their actions is contemptuous

  21. One of the reasons I have a “READ FIRST: Rules of Engagement” in the top right corner of my blog. Thou Shalt Not Spam is on there: Public forum does not mean without etiquette. 🙂

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  24. What we all need to learn from this is that the big 4 banks have very little respect for cultural groups. There is not a lot of difference between the banks forcing themselves on us and a rapist forcing themselves onto their victims. Both are about power and self gratification.

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    Australian banking

  26. That is a joke! I thought the NAB had gone overboard when spamming email accounts, I had no idea blogs were targetted also. -Johan

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  28. i didn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t see anything contradictory in the bank stressing online safety and security and warning customers about spam when it was itself adopting a communications strategy based on spamming private blogs.

  29. i didn’t see anything contradictory in the bank stressing online safety and security and warning customers about spam when it was itself adopting a communications strategy based on spamming private blogs.

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  33. Giles Pickford May 12, 2010 at 9:50 am

    The proposed class action on the banks is a far worse scandal that the tax on miners.

    The Banks have managed their affairs well during the recession and during the darkest days they were four of the eight world banks that were Triple A-Rated. The other four were Chinese.

    They charged us what was necessary and they stayed afloat. The thanks they will get, courtesy of the legal profession, is an immense headache. Hundreds of thousands of mums and dads will get a few hundred dollars and the Lawyers will get millions.

    This is a transfer of wealth from public to private. The public will get enough money to live on for a few days and the Lawyers will make a fortune.

    It is absolutely disgusting and I will have none of it.

    Giles Pickford

  34. I am absolutely shocked with the fact that they were so confident they didn't do anything wrong. Thanks for sharing.

  35. Last Thursday, an anonymous message was posted to the comments section of an article about the recent controversies surrounding Sam Newman on the AFL Player Spectator blog…

  36. The idea to spam the comments sections of private blogs was a recommendation of PR agency

  37. NAB media relations spokesperson Felicity Glennie-Holmes confirmed that the message was indeed from the bank. The idea to spam the comments sections of private blogs was a recommendation of PR agency

  38. G Vought@hotmail February 15, 2011 at 8:29 am

    the NAB,
    Last in
    First out

  39. the Nab
    a little word for a big LIE………….

  40. NAB is standing behind this decision.

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