Over the last year, the financial brand’s ad awareness score, which represents the public’s perception of memorable advertising, has fallen 3.8 points to a score of 17.5 – marking the biggest drop on a list of the UK’s 30 biggest banking and building society brands.
Its overall awareness score, which represents brands the public have recently heard of, has also fallen at a rate deemed statistically significant, dropping 1.1 points to a score of 91.3.
And King admits Halifax’s advertising had been “lacking oomph”.
She explains: “We need to give our advertising some oomph again and to have more of an impact than we did before. The emotive angle of showing off our customers and colleagues was successful but perhaps went as far as it could go.
“British consumers appreciate and respond well to a good sense of humour so we’re confident this new direction can be something we can use for years to come”.
In the 60-second ad, which was created by Adam & Eve/DDB, Top Cat and his sidekick Benny visit their local Halifax brand to take out some “moolah” for a new home.
King says the new comedic direction will be part of a long-term strategy, which will see Halifax continuing to work with movie studios such as Warner Bros [who distribute the Top Cat character] to regularly incorporate fictional characters into its advertising.
The Top Cat campaign also includes social media activity, in which Top Cat will reply to Halifax customer queries on Twitter, and an experiential campaign with a mural of the cartoon feline being designed by artists in Old Street, London.
With trust of financial brands at historically low levels, Kings hopes the new direction can drive loyalty.
She concludes: “We have historically been a fun brand with the Howard Brown ads so in many ways this is about returning to our roots. We don’t want to take ourselves too seriously anymore as that’s a trap you can fall into.
“Humour is a good way of engaging with people as customers see through empty pledges. People can now switch off from advertising easier than before so it is imperative that this new campaign is as engaging as possible.”