Magazine article Marketing

NatWest - Bank to Basics

Magazine article Marketing

NatWest - Bank to Basics

Article excerpt

The slogans have gone and the new ads are fact-based. Amanda Richards reports on the thinking behind NatWest's turnround

In the 80s it was branded 'the Action Bank'. In the early 90s it said it was 'here to make life easier'.

But when NatWest unveils its new advertising campaign next week, pledges about service standards will be noticeably absent.

Unlike competitors, such as Midland, which still peddles itself as 'thc Listening Bank', and Lloyds which promises a 'legendary service', NatWest will confine its slogan to thc undeniable truth: 'NatWest. More than just a bank'.

It's a significant step for the the UK's second-largest high street clearer, which is calling a halt to woolly slogans and concentrating its marketing on what is fact.

Promises, promises

Like its rivals, NatWest has fallen into the trap over the past decade of pushing ill-defined claims about service to try and stand out from the pack.

But inevitably the standards have not always been reached and the infamous slogans have been easy fodder for the tabloid headline writers to send up. The result? A continual stream of bad press.

Only last month NatWest was awarded the unenviable wooden spoon by Presswatch, which monitors the quality of press coverage of 1600 companies.

"The problem with such slogans is that they are potential hostages to fortune," says NatWest's marketing director Raoul Pinnell.

"They raise expectations which you have to be wholly confident you can deliver. If you can't you become easy meat."

It's a scenario that Pinnell has been working studiously to avoid ever since his much publicised decision to pull NatWest off television last September.

That move, made shortly after Pinnell joined the bank, has given NatWest time to distance itself from the corny Crockett's Theme soundtrack and the sight of a NatWest bank manager braving the rocky seas to reach a client with a diving business.

Neither will appear in the bank's new advertising, breaking next month. The 'here to make life easier' slogan has also disappeared.

Instead, the new [pounds]7.5m TV and press campaign through Bartle Bogle Hegarty uses factual information to encourage customers to reappraise NatWest and what it offers, expanding on the 'NatWest. More than just a bank' theme.

The bank is particularly keen to get on more peoples' shopping lists for financial products, such as car, travel, household and contents insurance, as it seeks out new revenue streams. …

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