CLOSE-UP: CLIENT OF THE WEEK - Less soft sell, more hard cash. The Co-operative Bank has changed tack. Jim Sinclair tells Claire Cozens about it

While most banks are spending their advertising budgets trying to ditch their hardnosed financial images in favour of something a little fluffier, Jim Sinclair, head of marketing communications at the Co-operative Bank, has been briefing his agency to focus on the money.

While most banks are spending their advertising budgets trying to

ditch their hardnosed financial images in favour of something a little

fluffier, Jim Sinclair, head of marketing communications at the

Co-operative Bank, has been briefing his agency to focus on the

money.



It is a slightly unexpected strategy given that the Co-operative Bank’s

USP is its ethical policy. But then, Sinclair does not conform to the

beard-and-sandals stereotype. He is a no-nonsense northerner whom Cora

Byrne, account director for the Co-operative Bank at Partners BDDH,

describes as an ’all-round good egg’ who likes his beer and his

curries.



The Co-operative Bank has already successfully branded itself as the

ethically and environmentally responsible place to put your money. But

while earlier advertising campaigns had appealed to people’s sense of

fair play, they had failed to engage people on a more materialistic

level.



And as Sinclair points out, most people are primarily interested in

making sure their money works for them, while doing good to others is a

secondary consideration.



’One of the key findings of our research was that banking is a means to

an end for people,’ he says. ’One of the main objectives of the campaign

was to let people know that we have a phone banking service, we have an

internet banking service and we have the biggest ATM network in the

UK.’



Partners BDDH’s new campaign for the bank includes one spot about

pollution and one in which a war photographer, Paul Lowe, explains how

he hopes his pictures open the world’s eyes to what’s going on in

certain places - adding that his cash doesn’t go towards arms

manufacturers.



But whereas earlier campaigns promoted ethical credentials to the

exclusion of all the more practical reasons for banking with the

Co-operative, five of the seven spots in the latest campaign deal with

the more mundane benefits, such as business banking and the Co-op’s deal

with Post Offices nationwide.



Two ads will run in each commercial break, one emphasising the ethical

qualities of the bank and the other focusing on its products and

services.



Sinclair came to the Co-operative Bank via traditional financial

services marketing. He studied marketing and French at Huddersfield

Polytechnic before joining the Halifax as a market analyst. But he could

not, he says, go back to working for a traditional bank. ’This is a

unique job - I think it’s the best job there is,’ he says.



Certainly, Sinclair’s enthusiasm has made him popular with Partners

BDDH.



’He never loses his passion,’ Byrne says. ’You have tense moments with

every client and there are times when I could throttle him. But he

really believes in what he’s doing. He’s a team player and as the agency

you feel like you’re part of his team.’



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