Taking aim at women who didn’t feel confident with financial matters got NatWest into hot water. Meanwhile Santander’s new “Antandec” bank ads are just aimless. Apparently they were inspired by the similarity between the two names. Inspired might be a bit strong actually. Beyond the joy of seeing Ant and Dec together on the telly, there’s nothing much in these ads. Whatever Santander is trying to say about its own offer is lost.

Financial services advertising can be difficult to do well, but that’s usually because there’s nothing much to say. In the absence of a clear value proposition, a newcomer may use puns and tricks to establish name awareness. Comparethemarket has seemingly built its business on that alone. But it can wear thin pretty fast. Black horses, anyone? Lloyds have finally moved past their equine obsession to their “it’s good to talk about money” campaign – though still it’s not clear what their role is. By contrast, when Santander promoted its 123 account with a market-leading 3% interest rate and lots of cashback, the message was enough. (Apparently this was because they had a clear business need to rebuild their deposits – leading to a great deal for customers, for a while.) Aviva’s promise to ensure existing insurance customers will get as good a deal as new ones is a modest but welcome move from which they’ve generated some striking communication. Directline’s “Does your home/car/landlord insurance do that?” has given them a platform to make lots of small features add up to feeling quite distinctive. So, if a marketing team finds it’s having to rely on weak puns, dodgy jokes or the screen appeal of celebrities, maybe it should go back and think again.

Comment | June 2019