Noel Edmonds on Lloyds Bank: 'These are not advertisements in the true sense of the word'

After a survey found the public believe Lloyds Bank should be prevented from using its ad slogan, Noel Edmonds spoke to Campaign about why he sees the bank's campaign as "propaganda".

Edmonds: spoofed himself in 2015 National Lottery campaign "Please not them"
Edmonds: spoofed himself in 2015 National Lottery campaign "Please not them"

The survey was carried out by ComRes and funded by litigation funder Therium on behalf of Edmonds, who is in a long-running dispute with Lloyds Banking Group.

The former Deal Or No Deal presenter was among the victims of a fraud operation between 2002 and 2007 at HBOS, which was later acquired by Lloyds. He disclosed last year that his experience had led him to attempt suicide in 2005.

Among the other findings in the survey, 57% of respondents said Lloyds should be stopped from using the slogan "By your side".

Edmonds said his objection to Lloyds’ campaign was its focus on the brand, which he characterised as a misrepresentation.

"These are not advertisements in the true sense of the word," he said. "Lloyds engage in propaganda – they are not advertising products or services – they are promoting their ideology."

Edmonds is behind YouTube channel Lloyds Victims, which has published a number of spoofs of Lloyds' recent ads, featuring voiceovers that paint a damning picture of the bank's practices.

One includes the line: "At Lloyds Bank, we use the noble horse to mask our character. We portray nostalgia and sentimentality. Images of honest men, women and children struggling to make something of their lives. But we are lives apart."

He has also launched online radio station Positively Noel, which plays songs in some way related to the campaign along with messages encuraging Lloyds staff to call his whistleblowing hotline.

Lloyds is currently facing legal action over its takeover of HBOS in 2008, while the National Crime Agency is looking into whether there should be a new criminal investigation into the HBOS fraud case.

Edmonds argued that in these circumstances, Lloyds’ messaging could influence a jury.

He has complained about the campaign to the Advertising Standard Authority, which confirmed to Campaign it had declined to investigate. But Edmonds said legal firm Keystone Law were also talking to the watchdog.

Edmonds insisted he was "not a fan of laws, rules and regulations", but said there should be "more obligations to produce ethical advertising" from all participants.

In the absence of action from the ASA, he said the next step would be to "focus on the platforms and say to broadcasters: why are you promoting this company that is the subject of so much litigation?" He would be approaching Ofcom to discuss this, he said.

Edmonds specifically called out "Get the inside out", Lloyds ad from this February that was the winner of channel 4’s Diversity in Action Award, saying it was "beyond belief" that the bank would partner with a mental health charity (Mental Health UK) after the harm he alleges Lloyds and HBOS caused to himself and other victims.

Last week, he specifically criticised Countdown presenter Rachel Riley, one of several celebrities who appeared in the ad.

But he also said: "I feel really sorry for the staff at Lloyds. They’re at the front line and are getting the grief for a policy introduced at the highest level to hide wrongdoing. It’s not going to go away."