The Brief

The Brief

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

Halifax ’family’.

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 Campaign

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.

The Result

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

63% recall.

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).


Client: Halifax

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.