Bank advertising that does and doesn’t work

I’ve been working in finance since 2015, and I’ve seen some great finance advertising (the Compare the Market meerkats are a good example) and some truly dreadful advertising.

So today I’ll give you a very quick rundown on how to advertise – and what not to do – as a bank.

What doesn’t work for banks

For banks, research by Forethought in 2018 showed that focussing on their key selling points – low interest rates on loans, low fees on savings accounts, etc. – is what sells.

It’s why they had an advertising agency turn Bendigo Bank from advertising “we love our community, we sponsor kids’ soccer clubs” to “we’re in the top 5, so we’re like the big 4 banks, but better.”

Image source:. › Better…PDF
Web results
2020 ARF David Ogilvy Awards – Advertising Research Foundation

People ultimately don’t care if a bank does good.

Or if they do care, it isn’t the driving factor. It’s not what will make them choose one bank over another.

What they do want is low rates, low fees, and not to have to keep their money in a sock under the mattress.

This is why I would suspect that the below ad campaign by Heritage Bank wasn’t terribly effective, despite its cute tagline “bank you very much”.

I say this knowing that Heritage Bank is the largest customer-owned bank.

Image source:.

For clarity, I’m glad that some banks so good. It’s just not what I would focus my ad campaign on, if I were a bank.

What does work for banks

What does work for banks is highlighting a key banking-related feature – maybe low rates on a home loan, or rewards on a credit card – and linking it to a happy emotion.

This ad by Suncorp does it well – amusement at the funny boys playing around at home, an appropriately kitschy slogan “make your house more home”, and their home loan interest rate for owner occupiers – which most families would be.

It’s great. Ticks all the boxes for me.

My photo of Suncorp’s ad on I think Adelaide and Queen Street, Brisbane

The exception

My photo of CommBank’s ad on Queen Street, Brisbane

There’s an exception to every rule, and this left of field ad by CommBank does what a normal bank ad doesn’t normally do – it probably makes you think “ha, that’s funny” the first time you see it, and might even make you think about it again later.

That’s the true goal of all advertising:

Be. Memorable.

What’s the best – or worst – ad you’ve ever seen?

(C) TJ Withers-Ryan, 2021.

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