CLIENT OF THE WEEK: Marbles champion takes risk - Mark Robinson explains why his left-field gamble has worked

’We never thought we would work with an agency that looks like a supermarket,’ Mark Robinson, group marketing director of HFC Bank, says.

’We never thought we would work with an agency that looks like a

supermarket,’ Mark Robinson, group marketing director of HFC Bank,


’You know, when we set up this agency we said we would never work with a

bank,’ said Mother’s Stef Calcraft when told that the agency had won the

brief to spearhead the pounds 10 million Marbles launch campaign. From

this unconventional starting point the client-agency relationship


It is easy to see how this collaboration could initially appear


After contacting the AAR for pitch recommendations, Robinson was the

first to admit that Mother was ’a left-field choice’ for a bank.

But the agency’s understanding of the brief won HFC over in no time.

The concept of Marbles had been initiated by Wolff Olins and Robinson

was clearly impressed with the company’s work and with Mother’s

subsequent development of the brief.

The consumer-friendly TV and press ads, which break this week, are

designed to promote Marbles as a non-intimidating experience.

Marbles has been developed to tackle consumers’ everyday concerns about

making purchases on the internet, and to entice users into the world of

online banking and shopping at their own pace.

It is a simple business strategy which relies on an increase in consumer

confidence to help the brand grow. But Robinson is anxious not to

overwhelm his customers with technology just yet: ’We will provide

people with a number of functions that are useful, but we don’t want to

blind them straight away.’ He praises the agency for its work in

communicating Marbles as a brand that will walk the user through the

online experience until they feel confident enough to delve deeper on

their own.

As the brains behind the launch of Goldfish, which he describes as ’a

watershed in financial services brands’, Robinson has learned that there

are a large number of customers who are ready for a financial brand that

operates at an emotional, as well as a rational, level. He’s counting on

Marbles’ colloquial and chatty language to raise the brand above its


Robinson has nothing but praise for the agency, enthusing about the lack

of egos and quality of work put in during the time they were


’They’ve done an absolutely terrific job,’ he says, clearly proud of the

collective output.

And the name? Marbles was conceived from the traditional image of

beautiful, individual objects which are often collectable items, and

tradeable in their own right. ’They resemble their own currency, and

everyone has a different visual idea of what a marble looks like,’

explains Robinson. Including his eight-year-old son, who is still

astonished that his daddy goes off to work and plays with toys all day

for a living.

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