With no silver metric, how CAN marketers demonstrate real value?


Demonstrating our professional value is a constant. To those who know, trust and understand us, this is a relatively simple construct, achieved through consistent performance and a general understanding of what we do; but for those who don’t, the proposition of communicating worth becomes challenging.

At a macro level, this challenge is amplified. Within organisations, each department is required to justify both its existence within the broader business and the value that existence creates. For those able to demonstrate financial value, a default business metric, worth is clearly demonstrable. For other areas such as Human Resources, accountability to this metric is rarely a requirement, yet for Marketing, similarly perceived in terms of ambiguity to value creation, no such luck.

Marketers and marketing departments are often viewed as ancillary to core business functions with their value largely misunderstood. How then, for those who recognise the importance and significant value creation of the function, is this conveyed upwards?

Inside CommBank and the CAN campaign

Banking institutions, arguably above all others, are governed by financial metrics, with seemingly little consideration given to anything else; at least that’s how they are outwardly perceived. 2012 saw the introduction of marketing campaign by the biggest of them all, the Commonwealth Bank. Fronted by Australian favourite, Toni ‘You’re terrible Muriel’ Collette, the Commonwealth Bank was seeking to reset public opinion in a post GFC economic environment ‘that had badly dented consumer confidence, particularly in the banking sector'(Christensen 2014)

Ag is not all good….

Those responsible for this particular campaign, led by then Commonwealth Bank CMO Andy Lark pointedly stated at the time that ‘the only goal that matters is the balance sheet'(Delany 2012), intimating that Return on Investment was the single metric by which success would be measured. Ambler and Roberts (2008, p.70) explore this notion, outlining that marketing exists to drive shareholder value and should therefore be judged on a single financial indicator or “sliver metric”. However, Ambler and Roberts further suggest that ‘financial measures are inadequate to for explaining marketing performance since they do not satisfactorily deal with the marketing asset’(Ambler and Roberts 2008, p.70), meaning further metrics, specifically those with a marketing orientation, would be required to determine the campaigns value.

Adding to the mix

Despite Lark’s bold statement of a sole commitment to the bottom line, Commonwealth’s Bank’s campaign sought to deliver across a range of predetermined indicators. Lark’s successor, Vittoria Shortt revealed a more rounded summation of the marketing metrics employed, stating;

‘We know from our tracking that our brand health is in a better position, we know that the sales uplift through virtue of the brand positioning is stronger, so in terms of all the different metrics we look at internally it has really resonated.’ (Christensen 2014)

Mints and Currim (2013, p.25), when reviewing the relationship between metric use and marketing mix performance support this approach. They suggest that the more metrics used by managers, both marketing and financial, enhances the quality of marketing decisions and ultimately leads to better marketing performance (Mints and Currim 2013, p.25).  Shortt further emphasises the banks approach to marketing and the metrics adopted, outlining ‘The process that we go through to develop our propositions is very thorough, well researched, tested and so that by the time to take something to market you know that will work.’(Christensen 2014)

comm bank 3

Image 3: Inside the CommBank and the CAN campaign (2014)


Measuring the mix and managing up

And work it did. Commonwealth Bank climbed the customer satisfaction ladder, increased revenue, engaged employees as brand ambassadors to support the initiative and became synonymous with the phrase “CAN”. There are always challenges when associating such trajectories with specific marketing campaigns, however through the early identification of a combination of financial and marketing metrics and a robust monitoring program, the ability for the marketing output to demonstrate its value to the business becomes apparent and importantly, communicable.


Ambler, T and Roberts, J 2008, ‘Assessing marketing performance: don’t settle for a silver metric’, Journal of Marketing Management, Vol. 24, Iss 7-8, 2008

Muntz, O and Currim, I.S 2013, ‘What Drives Managerial Use of Marketing and Financial Metrics and Does Metric Use Affect Performance of Marketing-Mix Activities?’ Journal of Marketing, , Vol. 77, pp. 17-40, 2013

Christensen, N 2014, ‘Inside CommBank and the CAN campaign’, Mumbrella, 24 March 2014, retrieved 20 May 2016,  <https://mumbrella.com.au/inside-commbank-can-campaign-214880&gt;

Delaney, C 2012, CommBank reveals its new position: ‘Can’, Mumbrella, 27 May 2012, retrieved 20 May 2016,  <https://mumbrella.com.au/commbank-reveals-its-new-position-can-93853&gt;

Image 1,2 & 3: Mumbrella, Inside CommBank and the CAN campaign’, 31 March 2016, retrieved  9 April 2016, <https://mumbrella.com.au/inside-commbank-can-campaign-214880&gt;



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