Complaint: 15/441

Finance Addressed Mail


I. Burton
ASB Bank
Addressed Mail
No Grounds to Proceed
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Decision Document


I. Burton
ASB Bank Limited
Finance Addressed Mail
19 October 2015
No Grounds to Proceed

The addressed email advertisement for the ASB bank about the ASB KiwiSaver
Scheme Annual Report 2015 included a paragraph titled "ASB supporting the Al Blacks."
The paragraph stated, in part:

"you may have heard ASB are now recognised as the official bank of New Zealand
Rugby and the All Black. Like ASB, the All Blacks share a long history and proud
legacy as a kiwi institution..."

Complainant, I. Burton, said:
The statement "Like ASB, the All Blacks share a long history
and proud legacy as a kiwi institution" was rather misleading, implying the ASB is a New
Zealand Bank... Nowhere in the flyer does is state the ASB is an Australian Bank."

The relevant provisions were Principle 1 and Principle 2 of the Code for Financial

The Chairman noted the concerns of the Complainant the advertisement was misleading as
it implied ASB was a New Zealand bank when they were Australian owned.

The Chairman noted a previous Complaints Board Decision (09/708) about a similar
complaint regarding the same Advertiser claiming it was a 'Kiwi bank'. That Decision stated,
in part:

"The Complaints Board noted the Advertiser's response where it said:

'...In addition to the fact that it is a New Zealand incorporated and registered bank, ASB
has the right to claim it is a 'Kiwi bank' for the following reasons:

? The ASB banking undertaking has been serving New Zealand communities for over
162 years
? Established in 1847 to answer a community need
? Employs over 5,000 passionate Kiwis
? Provides a full range of financial services to over 1 million New Zealanders
? Works with over 6,000 supplier companies in New Zealand

? An autonomous bank with its own Board and decision making powers. We are
not a branch of Commonwealth Bank and do not have branches in Australia
? Our financial products are designed in New Zealand for New Zealanders and we
provide services to Kiwis throughout the country
? We work with and support many and varied New Zealand organisations. We
provided $10m worth of support to the community last financial year alone
? ASB has not sent any jobs off shore
? ASB has made a large commitment to New Zealand's economic recovery from the
recession through the provision of the $1 bn Job Creation Fund
? ASB is a leading provider for Kiwis' futures through its role as a KiwiSaver scheme
? Virtually 100% of ASB lending activity remains within New Zealand'.

The Complaints Board considered that there were a range of factors that could
contribute to how a company may describe itself - including ownership.

The Complaints Board acknowledged that ownership of a bank was an important issue
to consumers. The Complaints Board noted that it had received a number of complaints
about the advertisement which indicated that there was a level of concern about the
claim 'kiwi bank'.

The majority of the Complaints Board was of the view that the advertisement did not
imply New Zealand ownership and did not meet the threshold to mislead or deceive the
consumer with regard to this issue. The majority of the Complaints Board noted that
ASB Bank was owned by 'the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and its shareholders'.
However, the majority also took into account the full wording of the advertisement,
'We've been a Kiwi bank since 1847' providing context to the "kiwi bank" reference, that
the ASB Bank brand only operated in New Zealand and had a long established history
of involvement in this country. Accordingly it ruled that the advertisement was not in
breach of Basic Principle 3 with regard to this issue."

The Chairman said the above precedent was directly applicable to the complaint before her.
She was of the view the claim that ASB has a "long history and proud legacy as a kiwi
institution" was not misleading and did not imply ASB was currently New Zealand owned but
referred to their establishment in New Zealand and their current service to New Zealander's
through various initiatives, including KiwiSaver.

Taking into account precedent Decision 09/708 the Chairman said the advertisement was not
likely to mislead consumers by referring to ASB as a 'kiwi institution' and was unlikely to
confuse consumers or exploit their lack of knowledge. She said the advertisement had been
prepared with a high standard of social responsibility to consumers and society required by
advertisements for financial services and there was no apparent breach of Principles 1 and
2 of the Code for Financial Advertising.

Accordingly, the Chairman ruled there were no grounds for the complaint to proceed.

Chairman's Ruling: Complaint No Grounds to Proceed