MEDIA ANALYSIS: BRAND SPEND ANALYSIS - Abbey National is banking on an increased adspend to promote its net venture

Background The former building society Abbey National is now one of the UK’s most innovative banks, with a portfolio of products and distribution channels that is the envy of many of its rivals. But amid rumours that it is a takeover target, how is the Abbey National brand shaping up to challenges from competitors while keeping up with technology?

Background The former building society Abbey National is now one of

the UK’s most innovative banks, with a portfolio of products and

distribution channels that is the envy of many of its rivals. But amid

rumours that it is a takeover target, how is the Abbey National brand

shaping up to challenges from competitors while keeping up with

technology?



Abbey National has traditionally regarded itself as a single brand

spanning a variety of banking and insurance products. But the emergence

of internet banks has forced it to create separately branded web banking

operations to retain its more profitable customers. Its main net bank -

Cahoot.com - will launch in May with a pounds 15 million marketing

budget. This will be followed by a second internet product - codenamed

Prosper - aimed at high-net-worth individuals, later this year.



These launches - and its promise to spend pounds 200 million on

e-commerce in 2001 - are designed to counter claims that the bank is

lagging behind on the net.



Media mix Abbey National had a group ad expenditure of pounds 27.8

million in 1999. Most of this went on direct mail, a particularly

cost-effective medium for cross-selling to its customer base. The bank

was also a major user of TV and press and, unusually for a financial

services company, also ran fairly large radio, cinema and outdoor

campaigns.



Last year Abbey National spent 36 per cent (pounds 10.1 million) of its

total budget on TV, 15.5 per cent (pounds 4.3 million) on press and 43

per cent (pounds 12 million) on direct mail. Interestingly, it spent

slightly more on cinema - 2 per cent, or pounds 563,281 - than on radio

or outdoor, which ate up 1.8 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively.



Key ad campaigns launched in 1999 included ISA promotions on TV and

radio in April, savings and pensions TV campaigns in July and September,

and mortgage advertising on posters in October, followed by TV in

December.



In common with most high street banks with large customer bases, most of

Abbey National’s direct mail campaigns advertised home and motor

insurance and personal loans. Spend was distributed fairly evenly across

the year, although TV advertising made September and October the two

highest spending months. Outdoor ads ran only in October, and cinema

campaigns appeared only in the last four months of the year.



Agencies Media incumbent Carat has been hired to handle planning and

buying for the new internet bank. Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper will handle

creative and WWAV Rapp Collins takes care of direct mail.



Trends Abbey National’s adspend will rise sharply this year as it

promotes its new ventures. Ads for Cahoot.com will need to adopt a

radically different stance if the brand is to hold its own against the

established internet banking rivals Egg and Smile.





Research by AC Nielsen MMS, telephone: 01344-627553

www.mediamonitoring.co.uk.



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