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Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Have you looked at consumer finance advertising recently?

I have and it isn’t very inspiring.

A lot of it is still rate led (even though advertising a rate of 2.80% would have seen as madness not that long ago).

Much of it is just boring.

Take the NatWest ads. The tv ads are about helpful banking and then in press ads they tell us “This year, we’re making £12.2bn available to help the property market.” It’s not wrong. It’s just all rather worthy and hard work.

HSBC ask us to “Realise the retirement you want with the help of our global expertise” with a photo of a lady having a golfing lesson. I’m not sure where the benefit is.

Halifax are more inspiring, encouraging us to save for the special things in life and for life’s lumps and bumps. But it all seems rather everyday.

So what’s missing?

Brands outside of financial services are much more optimistic. They make you smile, they thank-you for their attention. Budweiser are sure “Good times, they’re out there.” Even the rather marvellous Child Poverty work doesn’t lecture us, it gives us inspiring facts to get us involved in their campaign.

In financial services, the ‘meerkat factor’ has wowed and the results are astonishing for comparethemarket who work in a highly commoditised marketplace. I miss the ‘I want to be a slug’ ads from the Pru, or Allied Dunbar’s ‘We won’t make a drama out of a crisis’.

Consumer finance advertising just needs to get more engaging, more entertaining, more emotive, less left brain.

Given the news last week that the debt owed by British consumers has fallen for the first time since records began, it feels like now is the right time to be motivating, not confusing or mundane.

Oh and by the way, I do know that advertising is only a small part of the picture here. It’s about how a brand behaves. But actually I do think advertising is a window into brands and their businesses and what is missing is the desire to inspire.

Jo Parker

1 comment:

Camilla Winlo said...

This is so true - I don't know why but financial services brands are behaving like undifferentiated commodities. When you see a page of rate-led savings ads, it's hard to get excited and even harder to figure out which one is which.

Why do you think it is? Are marketers getting demoralised by the beating we've taken lately? Is this what works best at the moment? Or are we just too busy and skint to be more creative?

I've written a couple of posts about it on my blog at - this one looking at the ads in one edition of the Sunday Times Money section:

and this one looking at an effective creative campaign Fosters ran that I found quite inspiring as a way to really engage with a highly defined group: