There’s a campaign I actually want to rave about this week - the
Egg ’lie detector’ launch spots for Prudential’s direct banking arm,
commercials so refreshing that they have single-handedly restored a
cynic’s faith in financial services advertising.
I mean, where exactly did the agency, HHCL & Partners, go wrong? Didn’t
they know that financial ads (eg ’Kerching!’) are meant to be a
celebration of poor scripting, wooden acting and naff direction? Didn’t
they know that when you’re making a financial ad the idea is to terrify
people into buying the products on offer by suggesting that without them
viewers will face a miserable and poverty-stricken old age? Didn’t they
know that you can’t have your celebrity characters in a commercial, in
this case Linford Christie and Zoe Ball, striking attitudes in any way
appropriate to their real personalities? Didn’t they know that one of
the express aims of a bank’s advertising is to make the bank’s own staff
feel like polyester-clad dorks with single-digit IQs?
Well, apparently not. These are magnificent ads that stand out in any
commercial break. And as something of a ’Kerching!’ obsessive, I
cheerfully admit, I must count among the sector’s more pernickety
viewers. Why, it almost makes me want to put Egg’s self-proclaimed
’breakthrough levels of service’ to the test and find out for myself if
they’re better than First Direct.
It turns out that the chief executive behind these ads is the same Mike
Harris who was the first chief executive at First Direct, which also
launched through HHCL. That work provoked responses from the
enthusiastic to the highly irritated. Whatever you thought of the
original First Direct work, or indeed of the Egg launch, both campaigns
bear witness to an essential truth - that banks, in view of the flak
they’ve fielded over the years, ought to make it their absolute priority
to get closer to their customers.
After heaping all that unaccustomed praise on HHCL - by the way, they’re
’professional radicals’ not advertising practitioners now, or so it says
on their comp slips - I can’t resist ending with a dig following a story
in a rival magazine last week. BMP DDB’s new ad for MD Foods, for the
launch of Cravendale Pur-Filtre, a branded fresh milk product, features
people with milk moustaches and the line ’have you got the craving?’.
BMP is also the generic agency for the National Dairy Council so it
seems strange to hijack one of the world’s most famous generic food
campaigns for a single brand. And in any case, the milk moustache
campaign was created by Bozell in the US.
A deliberate pre-emptive attack to see off any plans to launch Bozell’s
campaign in the UK, or a rather tacky and un-BMP-like case of flagrant
nicking of someone else’s idea? You choose.