First Direct appoints Karmarama to launch first major ad campaign in two years

First Direct is launching its first major campaign in two years today, promoting itself as a "modern, digital bank".

The new above-the-line campaign, created by Karmarama, marks a subtle repositioning for the 28-year-old brand which is one of many challenger banks competing against Metro, Atom and Monzo.

The brand appointed Karmarama earlier this year. J Walter Thompson London had previously worked on the business since 2005.

A 60-second TV ad, which launches today and is shot in black and white, features an astronaut bouncing around London, while people watch in amazement as he seems to defy gravity. 

Meanwhile, a voiceover paints the challenger brand motif by selling the virtues of "breaking the rules" and having "your head up in the clouds" as First Direct aims to appeal to a younger audience that is seen as entrepreneurial and more open-minded.

The TV spot sets up a wider integrated campaign that will sell specific features, such as Touch ID and Voice ID, mortgages, a £100 switching incentive, and the bank’s five-star rated mobile app.

The campaign will run across tactical outdoor and tube station placements, as well as digital and social media activity. We Are Social is also working on digital activity.

The ad was created by Meigan Brown and Tobias Owen at Karmarama and directed by Guy Shelmerdine through Smuggler. Mindshare is handling media planning and buying.

Zoe Burns-Shore, head of brand and marketing at First Direct, said: "We’ve always attracted entrepreneurially-minded customers, living unscripted lives, and we know most people want a simple, high-tech banking experience, but also value and trust the human side of banking. Our aim is to show first direct is the bank that caters to all these needs and is committed to adding value.

"The creative direction of the campaign is to create a depth of engagement around people being more adventurous, encouraging them to release their ambitions and throw off the societal pressure to do things ‘by the book’. It’s not about telling people how to live, it’s about encouraging them to take those ‘first steps’, providing perspective in a relatable way rather than telling them the destination."