Nationwide marketing chief Bennison: poets campaign is applying social video thinking to TV

The UK's largest building society, Nationwide, is planning to create dozens of instalments in its "Voice of the people" campaign, according to chief marketing officer Sara Bennison.

The brand has just released a further five spots, bringing the total to ten since the campaign, by VCCP, launched in September. One of these is by Leeds native Erin Bolens, and the other four, two of which are just 20 seconds, are by Londoner Laurie Bolger.

While the first instalments were serious and emotional, the latest poems are more upbeat and humorous. "We wanted to as quickly as possible get a range of emotions in there," said Bennison.

"Shorter time lengths, much more humour. It’s a real light and shade. Bucket loads of humour." There was no planned number of poems, but "we’re working on the basis that it’ll be dozens," she added.

Bennison said the campaign aimed to "take that personalised voice that we expect from targeted media and apply it to mass media." This means not only a larger number of executions, but a working pattern with the ability to turn around new ideas quickly.

She argued that changes in media consumption should have seen a reshaping of the way TV advertising works in recent years, but that "we’ve shown our limitations as an industry in responding to that."

"The model of both TV buying and TV production is that you can’t actually exploit the power of television," she said. "We haven’t worked through how can we serve up what people expect more and more which is something personalised and kind of disposable."

The process of generating content for the campaign – the poems – started with a group of London-based poets who helped the brand recruit other poets. But Bennison said the popularity of the campaign meant that poets were now approaching them, unprompted, about participating.

Bennison admits she wants Nationwide to avoid becoming known as the "poems brand", but insists the device gives the brand genuine standout, while putting ordinary people front and centre.

"There has obviously been quite a lot of ‘real people’ advertising, and this manages to bridge for me the need to be real and accessible with the risk of being deeply boring," she said.