We at The Insights Grill feel bad for banks: no matter what they do, it's never good enough. Admittedly our last blog post was a RADvertising post for NAB's visually stunning home loans "Journey" ad, the new "More than Money" campaign tilts towards the BADvertising side. Here's why:
1. Money is inherently emotional - there's no need to go overboard on emotional appeal in the ad. By now it's pretty well documented that brands do better when they appeal to not only the rational side of our brains but the emotional as well - which is why every marketing brief now talks about communicating the rational and emotional benefits. But it's not the same for every industry - some categories seduce people more with emotion (fashion, sports), others there is a high degree of rationality involved (toothpaste, cars). None are completely exclusive of emotion nor rationality, but they are not all equal. Whenever we've done consumer research on the topic of money, people get incredibly emotional and worked up about it. Banking should be the rational counterbalance to all the pent up (crazy) emotions we have about our money. Banking is a category that we believe skews towards rational thinking and evaluation. The "emotional battle" that banks need to win is at the point of contact (in store, one the phone, online) - arguably NOT during a 30-second TVC.
2. The Online Backlash undermines the work - Judging by how people have responded online (both on NAB's Facebook page and also advertising trade media like Mumbrella), the campaign is at best falling flat, at worse an indictment of contradiction. People simply don't believe a bank like NAB could possibly be about "More than Money" when last year it recorded a $6.3 BILLION profit (up 20% from the previous year ago. (source) The claim "More than Money" perhaps would be better coming from a community bank or credit union.
3. All Talk when there actually is some Walk - When you actually visit the More Than Money content (micro?) site, you can see what the company has been doing to prove that it is about more than money: creating co-working hubs like its Village in Melbourne, providing small loans to economically challenged people to help them get back on their feet, and offering quick 3-day loans of $50K to small businesses so they can succeed if in a pinch. Those real life examples do a much better job of conveying the brand is about more than money than a splashy ad (which people will always equate with a hike in their bank fees to pay for the ad).
The good intent of a brand highlighting the fact that money is just a conduit (usually) to the important things in life is to be applauded... But given the current climate of consumer scepticism, uncertainty and oftentimes anger VS. record-breaking bank profits, the More than Money campaign, on the surface, comes up short in believability and for that reason we've classified it under BADvertising.