50 Years of Fame: Brandfame - Halifax

People have been at the heart of the Halifax brand right back to its humble beginnings of 1853. The former building society was set up by a group of friends who used to meet regularly in the Old Cock Inn in the West Yorkshire town from which the company takes it name.

That emphasis was cleverly exploited in the six-year TV campaign showing groups of people forming shapes such as houses and a bridge. From 1991 to 1997, the ads were backed by more than £12m a year in media spend with slots around high-rating shows and major feature films.

The investment paid off. About two years after its launch, research showed that consumer awareness of Halifax advertising had risen from 19% to 40% and enjoyment had risen from 12% to nearly 48%.

TV advertising became an essential part of Halifax's marketing strategy in the late 1970s, before which it mostly relied on print. It embarked on its first big push in 1979 for a new product - convertible term shares. This was followed by another heavyweight campaign around the brand's first card-based account, with a TV ad targeting young, upwardly mobile professionals.

By 2000 the brand was firmly convinced that it needed TV to make a big statement to win over current-account customers. Now a bank, it looked to TV to loosen the big four's stranglehold on the market.

By spelling out the benefits of banking with Halifax in song, and having its staff present the ads, the brand managed to convey product features as well as getting consumers to like it. Even the cynical Sun liked it, running a piece on the ad's key star that referred to its tagline.

The ads, through Delaney Lund Knox Warren, shot to the top of Marketing's Adwatch charts with a 71% recall. One year after the campaign broke there was a 150% increase in sales and a 43% rise in profit per customer.

In 2002 it took Gold at the IPA Effectiveness Awards. After four years, the brand has seen its share of the bank accounts market grow from 9% to 14%. Halifax is now the most trusted mortgage brand and the second-most trusted general banking brand in the UK, according to Reader's Digest's annual survey.

As Joe Ward, head of retail marketing at Halifax, concludes: 'Halifax has long been known for its strong presence in TV advertising. Over the past 50 years, our advertising has changed quite a lot - but so have we.'