TSB’s ‘The elephant in the room’ voted your marketing campaign of 2023

The bank’s mascot-led campaign defeated Guinness in the final to take home the grand prize.

After a fortnight of voting across four rounds, Marketing Week readers have named TSB’s ‘The elephant in the room’ as their favourite marketing campaign of 2023.

The bank’s campaign, which tackles financial taboos and introduces a new brand mascot, struck a chord with the voting public and defeated Guinness’ singing pints of stout in the final round of the competition, knocking the alcohol brand’s creative down to second-place.

Prior to the final, both entries fought off fierce competition from brands including Barbie, McDonald’s and Heinz, all of which featured in Marketing Week’s top campaigns of 2023.

The winning campaign

This year TSB decided its brand needed a refresh following a multi-year partnership with Friends actor David Schwimmer. To do that, and to realign its marketing strategy around the concept of getting people to talk about money, the bank introduced a literal elephant in the room with its first-ever brand mascot: Tiny the Elephant.

TSB CMO Emma Springham told Marketing Week that after the rise in brand awareness from the Schwimmer-led campaign, the brand was looking to tackle “long-held misperceptions of finance”. With the introduction of Tiny, voiced by actor Daisy May Cooper in a campaign created by McCann London and Riff Raff, the bank aimed to bring those misconceptions and other buried questions around finance into the light.

In testing, 74% of respondents said the mascot was ‘likeable’ or ‘really likeable’. In line with some other mascot-led campaigns, the character was designed to stand the test of time and to wear in over a long period of time. Springham elaborated: “We want it to be brave, and we want it to be a bit bolder. We needed something with longevity.”

Research has shown that, done well, there is evidence to suggest mascot characters are more likely to attract new customers, grow market share and even reduce price sensitivity. That is especially true in B2B marketing, where they have been described by LinkedIn B2B Institute’s Peter Weinberg and Jon Lombardo as the most unvalued asset in B2B marketing.

That long-term approach chimes with what TSB’s marketing performance and planning manager Owain Jevons described as TSB’s “journey” back in April, in which he noted the bank was seeking to “look at the next three years, not just the next one”.

The character was also developed with long-term customer acquisition in mind. Speaking about its in-school programme where the bank brings financial information to young people, highlighting the flexibility of the mascot, Springham believes “the character gives us something really playful” to bring into that space.