Abbey plans ‘rebirth’ for simpler Cahoot offering

Abbey’s online bank Cahoot is to undergo a “rebirth” because being a Web-only brand is not enough any more.

The online bank is relaunching a raft of new products and services, with a marketing drive spearheaded by digital creative agency Grand Union expected in April.

Cahoot managing director John Goddard says it is changing its strategy to one that offers “simpler products and better rates”, and says the brand has been left behind in recent years.

Speculation has mounted that Abbey’s Spanish owner Banco Santander would cull the brand, but Goddard says Cahoot is safe and looking to re-establish itself as a major online player. It follows a state of flux for the bank, which saw four managing directors take the reigns in the eight months before Goddard, a former M&G marketing director, was appointed six months ago.

“I don’t think Cahoot has been ignored, but I also don’t think Abbey understood how quickly the sector was moving or how organisations need to change around that market,” he states in an interview with Marketing Week.

“When Cahoot launched, it was enough of a unique selling point to be based online – now it is not,” he adds.

He believes that because high street banks all offer online banking and services, Web-based brands should look to selling themselves differently.

“People aren’t looking for online brands anymore – they are looking for products,” he says. Cahoot is looking to push products that do not require comprehensive advice, and will be concentrating on selling insurance products through Norwich Union, loans and credit cards rather than current accounts and mortgages, areas in which online brands find it harder to compete with traditional bricks and mortar-based financial institutions.

“Abbey and Cahoot have been as guilty as others for confusing consumers. Instead of helping them understand, we have made things fantastically complicated with bells and whistles,” he says, explaining the new simplicity drive.

“The brand has not really changed since launch, and that has been an oversight – we haven’t kept up,” he says. “But Cahoot will once again be a force to be reckoned with. This is a rebirth.”

Online media planning and buying will be carried out by Carat, which last week clinched the account from MindShare’s mOne.

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