Hello sir ... yes, it's Ira Goldstein, and I'm on my way home

By John Drinnan

Ira Goldstein. Photo / Supplied
Ira Goldstein. Photo / Supplied

After more than 10 years and 60 commercials, retirement is looming for ASB Bank's Ira Goldstein.

The bumbling banker and his grumpy New York boss are viewer favourites, and their television ads for the bank have won many industry awards.

But the ASB has dumped advertising agency TBWA Whybin, which created the campaign in 1999.

The bank won't discuss the change, but it seems Goldstein could soon be on his way back to New York after his decade-long investigation of ASB's merits.

After so many plot twists and turns - including his domineering boss joining him in New Zealand - there were probably limits on where else he could go.

It is also unlikely that the bank's new ad agency, Droga5, will pick up Goldstein.

ASB's general manager of brand and marketing, Deborah Simpson, refused to be interviewed about the agency switch or Goldstein's future. The TBWA Whybin contract ends in three months.

TBWA chief executive David Walden said the change was a bold move for ASB.

"Twelve years is a long time - almost unprecedented in the advertising industry - and there has been a considerable amount of change at ASB in the last few months.

"The decision to appoint a new agency is a reflection of that change," Mr Walden said. "It goes without saying that we're disappointed, but life goes on."

Ms Simpson said TBWA Whybin had created one of New Zealand's most loved and recognised advertising campaigns.

"They have laid down an excellent foundation from which ASB can now build further successful campaigns."

Initially New Zealand's Jewish community objected to the Goldstein character, seeing him as a stereotype.

ASB pulled the Goldstein advertisements for several weeks after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in September 2001, out of respect for those killed and for fear of causing offence with the image of a bumbling New York banker.

Goldstein is played by American actor Stephen Mellor, who has also appeared in The Sopranos and Law and Order.

- NZ Herald

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