Over the past few years, a building society pass book has come to be
seen in pretty much the same light as a lottery ticket.
Is it a share account? How big will the windfall be? And how can you
predict which bank or building society will be next to make the
The financial institutions deny that customer loyalty has declined, but
there are certainly examples of people cashing in and moving on, in a
permanent quest for the next windfall. It is no coincidence that Halifax
(formerly the Halifax Building Society) has chosen to directly target
its customers and remind them of the benefits of being part of the
In June, Halifax became a top-ten quoted FTSE, with more personal
customers than any other building society or bank. But even though many
of those 20 million customers had become shareholders, Halifax was
concerned that the conversion should not undermine the ’building
society’ values of friendliness, security, integrity and expertise.
Its advertising is normally designed to reassure existing customers and
recruit new ones - but this campaign explicitly targets existing
customers with the aim of persuading them to stick with the Halifax for
both current and future financial purchases.
Keen to promote its changing status as one of evolution, Halifax turned
to its ad agency of ten years, Bates Dorland, and to the campaign which
has become synonymous with Halifax over the past six years. There have
been five ’people’ commercials, each showing hundreds of people coming
together to form a living sculpture. Could an established theme -
paradoxically - be used to express change?
The 60-second, all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza, shows 200 people
coming together to build a Halifax branch. Shot over eight days at
Shepperton, with several ensuing weeks in post-production, the ad
continues with the ’Get a little X-tra help’ line which has been a part
of Halifax advertising for more than a decade.
It might sound like more of the same - but there is one important
For the first time ever, the dancers took a more important role in the
action by singing ’Consider Yourself’ from the musical Oliver. A small
step, perhaps, for the viewing public, but a giant one for Halifax - and
the well-chosen track is certainly attention-grabbing and involving.
Agency and client remain tight-lipped on the subject of results, but the
commercial did well to enter last week’s Adwatch at number four with a
This week, it performed better - in second place with 82% awareness -
albeit in a rather strange Adwatch week.
Adwatch researches commercials one month after they break, in order to
show their saliency over a period of time. Today’s table covers the week
commencing August 25, a traditionally slow time for new advertising and
the week before the death of Princess Diana on August 31.
Only eleven commercials which met the Adwatch criteria for entry into
the table broke that week, which is perhaps not too surprising - not
many campaigns are scheduled to break in the third week of August.
Therefore, instead of our normal Top 20, this week we feature a Top
The detailed Adwatch data shows that Halifax has clearly moved well
beyond its Yorkshire roots - the commercial scored broadly similar
awareness levels right across the country (83% in the north and midlands
and 80% in the south).
Significantly, more women than men remembered the campaign (85% against
79%) and, not surprisingly, it scored particularly well in the 35 to 44
and 45 to 54 age groups (85% and 87% respectively).
Commercial director: David Garfath
Agency: Bates Dorland
Creative team: Andy Ward (art director), James von Leyden (copywriter),
Paul Walter (creative director)
Budget: pounds 4m
Media: National TV
Target: Halifax’s 20 million customers.