MEDIA ANALYSIS: Brand spend analysis - The Co-operative Bank’s Smile is aiming to make online customers happy

Internet banks are flavour of the month at the moment as high street banks respond to threats to their core business by launching online banking services. In doing so they aim to counter the price and speed advantages of new entrants such as First-e, Egg and others.

Internet banks are flavour of the month at the moment as high

street banks respond to threats to their core business by launching

online banking services. In doing so they aim to counter the price and

speed advantages of new entrants such as First-e, Egg and others.



The Co-operative Bank launched its Smile internet banking service on 28

October. Is is positioned as a ’new world’ of banking, which offers a

combination of high savings rates and low borrowing rates. These

benefits are promoted across Smile’s advertising - created by Partners

BDDH - which features core messages such as: ’A current account that

pays you 4.33 per cent’ and ’outlandish rates online’.



Rival online operator First-e knocked high-street banks in its launch

campaign. Such themes are understandably absent from Smile’s ads, as

such a tactic could damage the Co-operative Bank’s own core

business.



Smile’s product range is interesting because, unlike other internet

banks which focus on savings products, Smile promotes its current

account as central to its wide product range. This is partly because it

believes that current accounts are better suited to the internet because

of repeat traffic.



Focusing on the current account will also allow the Co-operative Bank to

expand its distribution channels beyond its relatively small branch

network - and the website is a very effective way of winning current

account business from others.



Smile’s launch campaign comprised press ads in September announcing the

start of its service, and its TV debut was a 60-second commercial on

Channel 4 on 28 October. Smile’s planning and buying agency TCS North

has also used poster and direct mail to promote the brand.



The main press and direct mail campaigns were concentrated in October

with a lull in November, probably reflecting a desire not to overload

the website - a problem that beset Egg and others.



Smile spent almost pounds 500,000 on press advertising in September,

October and December, placing a total of ten different creative

executions in mid-market publications such as The Mail on Sunday (32 per

cent of spend) and the Daily Mail (11 per cent).



Other key publications included The Daily Telegraph (15 per cent) and

The Independent (14 per cent). No popular dailies were used and only one

regional - the Evening Standard. Two-thirds of ads were sized 25x4, a

quarter were 38x6, one in ten was a full page, and all were colour.



Smile’s direct mail advertising kicked off in late October, with an

estimated spend of over pounds 400,000 in that month - all directed at

existing customers, mostly in the 35-44 and 45-54 age groups. It is also

running poster campaigns on the London Underground.





Research by AC Nielsen MMS, tel: 01344-627553



www.mediamonitoring.com.



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