There’s been a worrying trend in advertising of late that has been shaking up the tea cups and beer bottles of our nation’s lounges. What I’m talking about is the recent advert campaigns by such big name banks as Halifax and Nationwide which, I’ll be honest, leave me (and I’m sure many others) with a strong sense of distaste.
You see, the problem is they’re out to fool us. Adverts nowadays, for the most part, are very much concerned with only the promotion of a product or company, and, yes, I am aware that that is the point of advertising. The point is they tend to do this with very little regard whether or not their product or company actually performs they way they claim in reality. A non-banking example of this is Virgin Media. The slogan on the side of their vans reads: “Faster, faster, faster”. It is anything but. I pay around £40 month and cannot buffer Youtube videos at certain times of the day. Not only this, but the TV package I have paid for (the L package) keeps telling me that all the channels I opted into are soon going to become part of the XL package. I paid for Comedy Central but apparently I won’t be receiving Comedy Central come November. There is a fine line between competitive exaggeration and outright lying, and these companies are flirting with it.
Anyway, back to the banks. On Tuesdays I like to sit in a comfortable chair and enjoy an episode of Gilmore Girls at around 10:00am (don’t judge). What I don’t like is having to sit through the latest Halifax advert. If you’re one of the lucky few who haven’t been exposed to this sing along travesty, it features a choir of Halifax staff (who also happen to be professionally trained singers) delivering the most inappropriate rendition of “I’ll Be There” ever publically broadcast. The problem with this is that lyrics like “I’ll reach out my hand for you” imply that Halifax care, which of course they don’t. I could live with a suggestion of professional care, maybe advertising that they care about good service, but what they’ve done instead insinuates a far too sentimental or personal sort of care that has no place in banking. Consider this: if you paid for their service and then forgot that you had paid, and subsequently didn’t act upon that service, would they care? Perhaps a few individual Halifax bankers would on the basis of decency, but the bank itself, I’m sure, would be only too pleased to receive the money without doing anything if they could get away with it. It’s borderline false advertising.
Once I’ve calmed myself down from the first bout of domestic ad-break rage, and the second half of Gilmore Girls continues, I usually fetch some toast and return to the comfort of the sofa groove I’ve spent eight years moulding. That is, until Gilmore Girls ends and another ad-break starts. This brings about the sight of another bank speaking to me like a concerned friend, or an overly friendly and helpful neighbour, the kind you want to punch right in the face. This time it’s Nationwide patronising me in the most irritating of ways. It opens with the words “When you look at the world differently, it allows us to do different things”, which irks me perhaps as much as the Halifax crew because, apart from being an unbelievably vague and banal statement, it is a term that just does not belong in the banking world. If I went to a Nationwide bank today and responded to the news that I have been refused a loan with: “But I’m looking at the world differently”, I’m quite sure the answer I’d get would be along the lines of: “Well, that’s great sir, but your loan has still been refused”. They pedal us this over-emotional trash, when the truth is they are only looking to sell. I wouldn’t expect a vending machine to promise to help me with relationship troubles.
With the state of today’s economic climate, which many say is caused by the banks, they should really be walking on egg shells. What they’re trying to do is win us back with these advertising campaigns, but their efforts are only proving to irritate the TV watching public. Never underestimate the anger of a couch potato.