TSB takes aim at UK's 'fat cat' big banks in latest campaign

TSB is going on the offensive against the UK's big banks with a new campaign depicting the brands as lazy "fat cats" that take their customers for granted.

The campaign reflects the fact that, despite government efforts to make it easier to swap banks, the number of consumers using the seven-day switching service fell to a record low last year.

The five largest UK retail banks – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS and Santander – occupy 85% of the market, despite what TSB claims to be widespread dissatisfaction with incumbents. It cites research by YouGov suggesting that over 70% of UK adults feel they are being "taken for granted" by their current bank.

Five years after its re-establishment by competition authorities, TSB is planning to underline its challenger brand status with a year-long marketing drive encouraging consumers to end banking relationships sustained by "Stockholm Syndrome" and to find a better deal elsewhere.

The "Five Cats" campaign, created by Joint and continuing the animated style it has used in its marketing since 2013, shows a group of slothful, overweight cats sleeping on tree branches.

In the TV ad, a red squirrel is struggling to reach acorns due to the branches sagging under the weight of the cats, until they slip off and the squirrel can reach its food. It concludes with the message, "Break free and go somewhere better," alongside the hashtag "#CompetitionMatters".

The campaign launches today and includes out-of-home, digital and social activity. Animations were created by Studio AKA, with media planning and buying by Dentsu Aegis Network. Creative for the campaign was led by Ciara O'Meara and Steve Williams, overseen by Damon Collins. The ad was produced by The Mill and directed by Steve Small.

TSB marketing director Peter Markey told Campaign the brand had decided the time was right to "remind people" of its status as a "challenger for the industry".

"People feel taken for granted. The big banks aren’t looking after them. Millions of people may be missing out of hundreds of pounds, so we want them to re-evaluate their banking relationships. This is a wake-up call," he added.

With developments in fintech opening the sector to new competition, Markey insisted that TSB is in a "unique position" to make a difference due to its existing scale, including its network of 500 branches around the UK.

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