TSB CMO on hiring Friends' David Schwimmer and why data is ‘as vital' as creative

Schwimmer: shoot took place in Kent countryside
Schwimmer: shoot took place in Kent countryside

“Differentiation and relevance in financial services are more important than ever,” Pete Markey, chief marketing officer of TSB, has told Campaign, explaining why the bank has recruited Friends actor David Schwimmer to star in its forthcoming ad campaign.

Schwimmer shot to fame in the US sitcom in the 1990s but this is the first time that he has taken part in an ad campaign in the UK, according to Markey, who said that was part of the attraction for hiring him.

TSB has developed a new brand purpose in the past 12 months around the idea that money confidence helps to increase life confidence and has a new slogan “Life made more”.

Markey said Schwimmer will help to “land” that message because he is known for playing “great characters”, including Ross on Friends. 

“He brings a real warmth, personality and a humour to the work but also his delivery – when you see the work – really does bring to life this whole concept of ‘Life made more’,” Markey added.

The shoot took place in the Kent countryside just before new national coronavirus restrictions came into force in England, and Schwimmer, who is also a Hollywood producer and director, worked on the creative with TSB and its ad agency, McCann London.

“We’ve had six years of a specific style of advertising and this is new and fresh for TSB,” Markey, who joined from Aviva in 2017, said. “It’s the first time TSB has done an ad without using animation since TSB was around in the 1980s with ‘The bank that likes to say yes’.

“It’s important we really land the creative idea and land it well and using David is a sure way to create a platform that really does that.”

The move away from animation to celebrity marks “a deliberate shift into what I describe as the real world – it’s real people, real situations”, Markey said. 

TSB’s sponsorship of the Daily Mirror’s Pride of Britain Awards, which airs on ITV, “gives us legitimacy to be present more and communicate more in the real world through real stories”, he added.

TSB, which is owned by Spain’s Sabadell, competes with banking giants such as Barclays, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds and Santander in a category known for relatively low interest and customer inertia.

“For the broader sector, differentiation is still really important and you’ll see this through the campaign,” Markey said. “It’s not just a strong creative vehicle. The messaging, the products we’re talking about, the things we’re doing, are really stand-out moments that differentiate us from the wider industry.”

Changing role of CMO and use of data

The Schwimmer ad is the first major work from McCann since TSB appointed new creative and media agencies in the past 12 months. Earlier this year TSB recruited staff to film a trio of ads. 

McCann London took over from Joint, while the7stars replaced Vizeum. Markey said the new agency partners have helped to “shape” the strategy.

The campaign will debut on TV, video on demand and social channels around the end of the year.

The media buy will also include a significant data-driven component as TSB and the7stars have brokered a deal with tech firm InfoSum to target consumers through DAX, the programmatic ad platform owned by Global, the radio and out-of-home media owner.

The strategy involves using InfoSum’s tech to join up TSB and Global “to liberate the data assets that sit on each side” and make TSB’s media “more precise at scale”, according to Jonny Harrison, digital lead at the7stars.

“How we are using data now” is “as vital a part of this job” as choosing the creative, Markey said.

More broadly, “it’s about marketing playing a greater role in helping the business shape the go-forward customer experience, particularly with data”, he explained.

“The CMO’s role is not just about the activity that drives that demand in the business – whether it’s through the brand or digital or data and channels. It’s about helping to shape the right customer experience that brings your brand purpose to life more, and I include in that having the right products and services that you’re offering your customers.”

Markey cited as an example how TSB’s marketing department now manages the digital sales experience “end to end” – “from driving traffic to the site as well converting through the site”.

TSB suffered from major IT failings two years ago and subsequently overhauled its leadership team.

More recently, the bank has invested in the Adobe Experience platform and is rolling it out over the next 12 months to improve data-driven marketing and the broader customer experience.

“The real shift in the dynamic of a CMO role over the last few years has been to be far more focused in listening to your customers, using customer data to build a deeper customer relationship, to shape a customer experience that really delivers your brand purpose and what it’s about,” Markey said.

“Where things like the Adobe Experience platform become really important is how do you better provide the right proposition and the right service at the right time – what every marketer has been wanting to do for 20-plus years.

“Actually, technology is now, in a good way, enabling us to create those greater, deeper connections with customers.”

TSB is expected to work with Schwimmer on further campaigns. 

“We definitely have plans in the longer term to keep working with David,” Markey said. “He has been so good to work with and we’ve got so much content we’ve made with David and we feel there’s a longer-term path for our relationship.”

Schwimmer is the second US celebrity name to work with McCann London this year, following Just Eat’s work with Snoop Dogg.


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