TV drive tests the power of contrast


Financial advertising is so difficult,” says one agency account head who works for a major financial institution. “There is such strict consumer protection. If you want to advertise something like a mortgage you have to fill the thing with half a page of legal crap.”

Bartle Bogle Hegarty has spent the past six months deciding how to get around NatWest’s advertising difficulties. The result is a TV campaign with a split personality using two pieces of creative work.

The first ad is the sort of beautifully photographed work that BBH probably wanted to do for British Airways. It features a revolving landscape with images such as a swimmer, a grassy landscape and a child on a trampoline. The voiceover says “there are better things to do with your life”, telling consumers to let NatWest worry about things like pensions and life assurance. According to the bank it reflects corporate confidence, style and polish.

The second commercial has a brasher, more “upstart” image. It revolves around a young man, snapping from an image of him playing a game of snooker, to him drinking, then talking to a NatWest small business advisor, driving and ultimately ending up on an airplane, with his girlfriend in tow, as the voiceover reminds you of NatWest’s small business services and Air Miles offers.

Alongside the 7.5m television campaign, NatWest will also run a series of monochrome press ads. These employ statements such as “who sends out 20,000 braille statements each month?” and “who has provided 9bn of loans to small businesses?”. The catchline, like that in the TV ads, is “NatWest. More than just a Bank.”

The new creative work has been greeted enthusiastically by NatWest, reaffirming BBH’s hold on the account which had been rumoured in the industry to be shaky. Although the campaign marks a complete change in creative direction, BBH’s chief executive John Bartle describes it as “a logical progression from the previous campaign”.

Sharon Marshall

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