Halifax: the bank's latest execution is a far cry from typical ads for financial-services brands

By Magnus Fitchett, planning director, SapientNitro, marketingmagazine.co.uk, Wednesday, 03 October 2012 12:00AM

The people at Halifax must have wept when they saw John Lewis' 'The Long Wait' ad last Christmas.

Halifax ad depicts a nightmarish house-hunting scenario

Halifax ad depicts a nightmarish house-hunting scenario

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They will have been moved not by the sheer positive emotion of the film, but because they had previously secured the services of Adam & Eve, the agency responsible for creating it.

'I want one of those!' must have been the cry that went out from those at Halifax, and they partially got it. The third ad to spring from the loins of the Halifax-Adam & Eve love-in couldn't be less like a typical bank ad if it tried - and that's a good thing.

Banks are hardly consumers' best friends at the moment, so the challenge here, of getting people leaning forward, reappraising and trusting a financial-services brand again, must at first have seemed insurmountable. It was overcome by dressing the brand in the clothes of something else entirely.

Watching this ad is, I imagine, a bit like being politely mugged by a granny, whose floral skirts and cerise cardigan hide the fact that she is actually tooled up. It has all the innocence and allure of the John Lewis ad, but there's more. For a start, the hero of the ad is its 'Home Finder' app, which affords the opportunity to create empathy with consumers by depicting those nightmarish house-hunting scenarios to which we can all relate.

There are clever touches throughout - the slow motion, some comedy moments, the wink of the invidious estate agent (and if you want to cast bankers in a sympathetic light, what better way than to offer up an estate agent by way of comparison?).

The ad manages to share a wry smile with consumers, and plants emotional anchors that draw them closer, when, wham, we're hit about the head with harsh reality as one of the house-hunters whips out her smartphone and demonstrates the app's features. It helps Halifax to substantiate its key customer service claim, but the showcasing of the product is a jolt, and not the only one.

Once the happy couple have found their dream home, the ad segues into a shot of the Halifax Community Choir singing Foreigner's I Want to Know What Love Is, as they have been there, unseen, all along. Halifax might have wanted 'a John Lewis', but it clearly didn't want to squander the gazillions it has invested in its historic advertising heartland - the staff starring in the ads.

This ad is a story of three parts - the John Lewis-esque beginning, the product showcase, and the Halifax employees having a bit of a sing-song.

It is, nonetheless, a considered evolution of Halifax's 'The people who give you extra' strategy and for a financial-services brand in a hostile environment, it does a pretty good job.

Brand strategy verdict: 7 out of 10

A financial-services ad that feels like something entirely different. Given the backdrop, this is a welcome departure from previous expressions of Halifax's brand strategy.


Adwatch (Oct 3) Top 20 recall: Halifax
Sep-26 Brand

Agency/TV Buyer

1 (–) Virgin Media Bartle Bogle
2 (–) Sky WCRS/MediaCom 49
3 (–) Oreo Draftfcb/PHD 39
4= (–) Halifax Adam & Eve DDB/MEC 38  
4= (–) DFS Krow/MediaCom 38
6 (–) Direct Line M&C Saatchi/
7 (–) Tesco The Red Brick
8 -6 Comet Havas Worldwide London/
9= (–) Listerine JWT London/
9= -2 Asda Saatchi &
11= (–) Disneyland Paris BETC London/
11= (–) Nationwide 18 Feet &
13 (13=) Harveys HMDG/
14 (–) Boots No7 Mother/
15= (–) TRESemmé Mullen, FBH Incite/
15= -19 Currys/PC World M&C Saatchi/
Walker Media
17= (15=) Morrisons DLKW Lowe/MEC 21
17= (–) McDonald’s Leo Burnett/
19= (–) De Agostini Sassy Films/
17= (–) Zoopla VCCP Blue/

This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk


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