In the near nine years that First Direct has been going, I have
never heard a word of complaint about it from any of the people I know
who use it. This is remarkable when you consider that, first, it is a
service company and, second, it is a bank. It is even more remarkable
when you consider it wasn’t that long ago that banks marketed themselves
through the image of a friendly bank manager who resided in the cupboard
under the stairs.
With such powerful word-of-mouth momentum behind it, we might ask
ourselves why it is that First Direct needs to continue to advertise or
The answer must be that without the physical presence of bricks and
mortar, telephone banks are their advertising - much as Direct Line is
its red telephone. Advertising is not only crucial for the launch but,
without the high street fascia, is an ongoing and constant reminder of
the existence of such organisations.
Little wonder then, given the agency’s role in the launch of First
Direct, that the Prudential has hired HHCL & Partners (Campaign, last
There’s a certain synergy here: just as HHCL’s advertising made First
Direct, so it defined the agency as the enfant terrible of the
advertising world (not to mention Jan Smith, who commissioned the
But banks do not naturally take advertising and marketing particularly
seriously - just look at the stuff produced by the other me-too
telephone banks. Of the dozen or so that have launched since First
Direct, none have advertising that sticks in the mind. So the question
is this: is the Pru brave enough to commission work that will make its
new operation stand out, an even larger task, by virtue of the now
cluttered market, than that which faced First Direct?
To judge by the names said to be under consideration for the new bank -
Oxygen, Egg and 360 Deg - the Pru seems brave enough, even if these
could also be titles for Jean-Michel Jarre’s comeback album.
You have to admire FIFA’s chutzpah, but its attempt to register the
words ’world’ and ’cup’ as trademarks seems a little ambitious for such
generic and commonly used terms.
Unquestionably, FIFA is fed up with the kind of free-for-all that sees
advertisers devising all kinds of marketing and promotional devices off
the back of the World Cup - Walkers World Cup Fantasy Football
competition being merely the latest example - but to try to appropriate
such key words smacks of restraint of trade.
Where, for example, would a successful FIFA application leave the
International Rubgy Board and its cricketing equivalent? Both have their
own world cups and in some parts of the world - Australia and New
Zealand to take but two countries - the chances of confusion between the
different sports is minimal.[QQ]FIFA will argue it is only trying to
bring order to the World Cup marketing frenzy and protect it from
That seems rich from an organisation that has become a byword for
Marketers should lodge their objections immediately.