Magazine article Marketing

Bank Agencies Back CA on Ads

Magazine article Marketing

Bank Agencies Back CA on Ads

Article excerpt

Last week a report by the Consumers' Association accused the banks of using "empty slogans" to attract customers.

The banks will probably shrug their shoulders and ignore the criticism -- after all, no one has had a kind word to say about them for years.

But a straw poll carried out by Marketing reveals that the CA report has support from a new and unexpected quarter which cannot so easily be ignored; the banks' own advertising agencies.

Prompted by the news that National Westminster's marketing director Raoul Pinnell is scrapping the bank's four-year-old campaign, Marketing asked senior figures on the accounts for Barclays, NatWest, Lloyds and Midland what they thought of the quality of bank advertising as a whole.

The response was unanimous (and unattributable): the CA is right, and Pinnell is right to try for a new approach, because none of the big four has "cracked it".

In the words of one, "Their ads tend to have no clear proposition or positioning, and make matters worse by being patronising."

While the agency grandees refrained from commenting on their own campaigns, there was a surprising degree of consensus on precisely why this should be.

The major problem in producing decent bank advertising, they said, lies in branding a service.

"Brands have two key characteristics: quality and consistency," said a board-level planning director. "But banks, with thousands of branches and tens of thousands of employees, can't deliver either."

As a result there is always a gap between what ads promise and what the banks deliver, which makes their ads implausible. …

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