Nationwide ad ban: One in three consumers feel ‘more negative’ towards the brand

Nationwide’s ad being banned for misleading customers over store closures has left more than a third of consumers feeling more negatively towards the brand.

A still from the Nationwide refreshA third of people (37%) say they feel “more negatively” towards Nationwide after its ads were banned for misleading customers, according to data from YouGov, raising questions over trust.

The ads, which star Dominic West and Sunil Patel, show a fictional bank boss discussing branch closures and comparing its position to Nationwide, which the ad suggested was keeping its branches open.

However, the ads generated 281 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, including from rival Santander, questioning whether the ads were misleading given Nationwide closed a number of stores and reduced trading hours in others last year.

The ASA noted that compared to other institutions, Nationwide had closed the smallest proportion of its estate, but it had still shuttered 20% of its branches. The ads were banned as a result on 3 April, with the ASA ruling they must not be shown again in their current form.

The campaign was revealed as part of Nationwide’s biggest rebrand in nearly 40 years, which included the launch of new  brand platform ‘A good way to bank.’

Nationwide ads banned for ‘misleading customers’ over branch closures

In addition to more than a third of consumers saying they feel more negatively towards the brand given the “misleading” nature of the ads, the YouGov data finds most consumers (58%) agree with the decision to take the commercial off the air.

However, despite the negative reaction, 55% of consumers say they enjoyed the commercial after watching it. The data also suggests there is an argument for Nationwide to return the ad to air in a modified, less-misleading form, with 61% saying the ad is “clever” and 59% suggesting it is a fair reflection of what banks are like.

Britons are also more likely than not to say they feel more positive about Nationwide having seen the ad (49% versus 17% who did not). Just over a third (35%) agree they are more likely to consider using the building society as a result of seeing the ad, compared to 29% who disagree.

An ‘opportunity’

Nationwide has said the decision to ban its ads presents an “opportunity” to strengthen its pledge to keep branches open.

Following the 3 April ruling, Nationwide has said it will update its ‘Branch Promise’ adverts with a refreshed commitment to keep branches open in current locations until at least the start of 2028.

At the time of the ruling, a spokesperson told Marketing Week: “We recognise the ASA’s decision and are delighted to have the opportunity to make even clearer our now extended Branch Promise to keep every branch open until the start of 2028.”

They added: “The investment we have made to keep branches open means we now have more than any other brand and are the last one standing in more than 90 communities.”