I was pleased when I saw a Nationwide ad campaign rolled out in September last year, using the tagline, “You do need a bank account, but you don’t need a bank.” About time too!
Banks have been haemorrhaging popular support for quite some time, but it was not until Nationwide’s recent campaign that they played their strongest card: selling the fact they are not a bank but they can do your banking. This seems a stronger angle to pursue than their other campaign ‘here for you’, which did too little to distinguish itself from other financial forces, and as a result was less likely to sidestep the snowstorm of consumer cynicism that has engulfed the financial sector. Anyway, well done them. An obvious but beneficial and well-timed campaign –even if it could have appeared a few years previously– as it appeared shortly after the latest fixing and Libor scandals last summer.
Now it seems that banks want to follow suit. Enter Santander with, “I wanted a bank that didn’t act like one.” A smart move if it works, but seeing as they don’t have the USP that separated Nationwide in the first place, I can’t help but ponder the effectiveness. It’s a funny marketplace to operate in if one of the only strategies you can use to re-gain customer confidence, is to deny your fundamental identity. I’m also wondering if this will prove to be the perfect opening for other lending platforms, such as peer-to-peer finance, to step onto the stage and highlight this distinction in their advertising campaigns. They would, after all, only be pointing out the truth.
Here’s a good article from Marketing Week, on the ‘ethical advertising’ push started last year by Nationwide, Co-op and other service-led financial outfits.
It’s worth noting: Nationwide has done a good job of distinguishing themselves, without slinging dirt on banks themselves. This can only serve them well, as nobody likes the politician who spends all their time focusing on the mistakes of the opposition…