How humour helped Nationwide position itself as the ‘antithesis’ of other banks

Nationwide’s TV ad ‘In your best interest’ uses humour to cut through a “serious” category, which lands it in the top 8% of all UK ads, according to Kantar’s ‘The Works’ study.


A still from the Nationwide's 'In your best interest'
A still from Nationwide’s ‘In your best interest’ TV ad

Financial services ads typically rank in the bottom 9% of all ads for humour. Across all media contexts, they generally prove less effective than ads in other categories, both in the short and long term, according to data from Kantar.

However, ads that break the common category mould, by leveraging “creativity and originality”, are the ones that “triumph” and prove more effective.

Nationwide’s TV ad for its savings products, ‘In your best interest’, uses humour to position itself as the “antithesis” of other banks, landing it in the top 8% of all UK ads, according to Kantar’s ‘The Works’ study.

The study, which is produced in association with Marketing Week and the Advertising Association’s Trust Working Group, asks 750 consumers to give their thoughts on the top ads over the period. It also tracks the facial expressions and eye movements of those viewing the ad.

It shows the importance of being creatively brave, disrupting category codes and bringing to life the brand’s strategy.

Lynne Deason, Kantar

Nationwide’s ad, which stars Dominic West and Sunil Patel, shows “the power of the joke”, according to Lynne Deason, Kantar’s head of creative excellence.

“Smiles erupt on people’s faces when the assistant explains that the word the CEO thought was misspelt was not banker, ie it was wanker,” she says. “We see some people ‘smirk’ at this moment, while others show surprise on their faces.”

Ads in the financial services category land, on average, in the bottom 30% of all ads on critical short- and long-term measures of effectiveness, according to Kantar.

The Nationwide ad performs well across a number of measures. As well as landing in the top 8% for humour, it falls in the top 20% for ad distinctiveness.

The ad is “powerful” at evoking emotions, landing it in the top 11% of all ads for its emotive power and top 18% for enjoyment, according to the study.

Additionally, one in four people says the ad makes them “laugh out loud”, and 31% of people enjoyed the ad “a lot” – almost double the category average of 17%.

Rebrand and ad ban

The ad is part of Nationwide’s ‘A good way to bank’ brand platform, which it launched last year as part of its biggest rebrand in nearly 40 years.

The first ad to launch as part of the refresh was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for misleading to customers over branch closures. The In your best interest ad is part of the same campaign but was unaffected by the ruling, and Nationwide has since made changes to the ads so they can be aired again.

Nationwide achieves ‘exceptional’ short-term brand uplift score for relaunch ad

The campaign as a whole has been seen widely and is well remembered, according to the Kantar study, with almost one in two people reporting having seen another element of the campaign in addition to the savings ad.

One participant said the ads are particularly “memorable” as they have a “really good dark humour about them”.

Deason suggests other ads need to “be more Nationwide”, with 53% of people saying they “couldn’t fail to remember” it was an ad for Nationwide. This surpasses the UK average for all ads and financial services ads, which stands at 36%.

The audience also highly rates the impressions the ad creates about Nationwide, finding it both very relevant (ranking in the top 24% of ads) and motivating (ranking in the top 10% of ads). Additionally, the ad instils a sense that Nationwide stands out from other alternatives, ranking in the top 21% of UK ads.

One participant said the ad was “quite funny” and kept them “in the loop” about Nationwide and “why it is such a good bank”. Deason says this reflects the ad’s ability to deliver results for Nationwide in the more immediate term as well as “building a predisposition to choose it over alternatives when a relevant need or usage occasion arises”.

Deason says the campaign is a “fantastic” example of how humour can be used to convey an important measure in a “serious” category.

“It also shows the importance of being creatively brave, disrupting category codes and bringing to life the brand’s strategy in an entertaining, memorable and ownable way,” she adds.