CLOSE-UP PERSPECTIVE: The last thing you expect from bank ads: Egg-cellence

There’s a campaign I actually want to rave about this week - the Egg ’lie detector’ launch spots for Prudential’s direct banking arm, commercials so refreshing that they have single-handedly restored a cynic’s faith in financial services advertising.

There’s a campaign I actually want to rave about this week - the

Egg ’lie detector’ launch spots for Prudential’s direct banking arm,

commercials so refreshing that they have single-handedly restored a

cynic’s faith in financial services advertising.



I mean, where exactly did the agency, HHCL & Partners, go wrong? Didn’t

they know that financial ads (eg ’Kerching!’) are meant to be a

celebration of poor scripting, wooden acting and naff direction? Didn’t

they know that when you’re making a financial ad the idea is to terrify

people into buying the products on offer by suggesting that without them

viewers will face a miserable and poverty-stricken old age? Didn’t they

know that you can’t have your celebrity characters in a commercial, in

this case Linford Christie and Zoe Ball, striking attitudes in any way

appropriate to their real personalities? Didn’t they know that one of

the express aims of a bank’s advertising is to make the bank’s own staff

feel like polyester-clad dorks with single-digit IQs?



Well, apparently not. These are magnificent ads that stand out in any

commercial break. And as something of a ’Kerching!’ obsessive, I

cheerfully admit, I must count among the sector’s more pernickety

viewers. Why, it almost makes me want to put Egg’s self-proclaimed

’breakthrough levels of service’ to the test and find out for myself if

they’re better than First Direct.



It turns out that the chief executive behind these ads is the same Mike

Harris who was the first chief executive at First Direct, which also

launched through HHCL. That work provoked responses from the

enthusiastic to the highly irritated. Whatever you thought of the

original First Direct work, or indeed of the Egg launch, both campaigns

bear witness to an essential truth - that banks, in view of the flak

they’ve fielded over the years, ought to make it their absolute priority

to get closer to their customers.



After heaping all that unaccustomed praise on HHCL - by the way, they’re

’professional radicals’ not advertising practitioners now, or so it says

on their comp slips - I can’t resist ending with a dig following a story

in a rival magazine last week. BMP DDB’s new ad for MD Foods, for the

launch of Cravendale Pur-Filtre, a branded fresh milk product, features

people with milk moustaches and the line ’have you got the craving?’.

BMP is also the generic agency for the National Dairy Council so it

seems strange to hijack one of the world’s most famous generic food

campaigns for a single brand. And in any case, the milk moustache

campaign was created by Bozell in the US.



A deliberate pre-emptive attack to see off any plans to launch Bozell’s

campaign in the UK, or a rather tacky and un-BMP-like case of flagrant

nicking of someone else’s idea? You choose.



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