Delivering an ‘impossible’
merger result

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Award winning campaign
Excellence in Measurement and Evaluation
Integrated Marketing Communications
Financial Communications


bcu is a $2billion customer-owned bank with a 50-year history of serving communities on NSW’s mid-north coast and south-east Queensland. Coffs Harbour-based bcu is integral to the fabric of the region, much loved by members for providing services and branches big banks won’t.

In 2019, bcu’s board announced a merger with Perth’s $4billion P&N Bank to assure the organisation’s long-term sustainability.

bcu’s constitution provided a hurdle to the transaction. It required more than 25% of eligible members to vote and more than 75% to approve.

Baseline research indicated that 59% of likely voters were supportive, 27% were undecided and 14% opposed.


This campaign was built on a foundation of qualitative and quantitative research that included:

1. Member data analysis, client, employee and stakeholder consultation.
2. Representative telephone surveys of members, investigating voting likelihood, intentions, motivators and channels.
3. Segmented focus groups explored strategies, tactics and creative.
4. A staff survey and focus groups explored attitudes and ideas for the member campaign.

Cole Lawson developed a strategy comprising five, non-negotiable pillars that all had to succeed in order to secure the vote. Our integrated campaign, “bcu depends on you”, utilised targeted owned, earned and paid creative featuring real influencers and bcu staff. We contributed to and delivered more than 500 pieces of output including the merger prospectus and:
A program of staff social events, board and executive Q&As, focus groups and a comprehensive training program engaged and educated every employee on their role in achieving the required vote.

We also designed and delivered store polling booths to be discussion starters and private voting areas for members. In-store voting was supplemented by online and app integration and SMS engagement with younger members.

TV, newspaper and
radio advertisements
Geotargeted Facebook and
YouTube ad campaigns
Media releases,
briefings and coverage
Website, online banking
and social content
Member EDMs, letters,
events and in-store videos
Member competitions
Influencer endorsements

Results and Impact

Between 16 September and 22 October 2019:

eligible bcu members voted (28.9% against an objective of 25%)
of votes were in favour (against an objective of 75%)

Against the odds, the motion was approved and the merger proceeded.