Richard Ayoade and loads of dogs? Yes please! This new advert for HSBC by ad agency J Walter Thompson (London) is what we all need in the lead up to Brexit. The narrative explores the thoughts of many liberal, pro-EU folk by naming international everyday brands, services and products that Brits use, from Colombian coffee; to French bulldogs; to Swedish flat-pack furniture; to Indian takeaways. This is exactly what I’ve thought about after reading depressing tweets from key-board warriors defending blatantly discriminatory, anti-culture-blending “British principals”. Despite our country taking full advantage of global innovation, many Brits still express an archaic distain for “people coming into our country” (the worst phrase of all) whilst simultaneously utilising ubiquitous imported products… Ayoade wonderfully highlights this irony:
We live on a wonderful lump of land in the middle of the sea. But we are not an island. We are part of something far, far bigger.
“Together We Thrive” is the bank’s newest tagline since “The World’s Local Bank” from 2011. The 60-second TV ad is set to the soundtrack of Edward Elgar’s Nimrod, and is accompanied by print, outdoor and digital ads (which also features Ayoade, one of my favourite British comedians) to promote the bank’s sponsorship of British Cycling, its £10bn Small Business Fund and its support of The Prince’s Trust.
Adverts for banks in the UK have rarely been praised amongst creatives, because they tend to follow little to no creativity or uniqueness. I think the only time I’ve ever blogged about a UK bank is the NatWest rebrand, and that was about design, not a creative TV ad. I think this is because advertising for banks tends to focus on a service (which is understandable) rather than venturing into alternative ways to market themselves and stand out from the crowd. When banks try to create ads that speak to “the people”, they can came across as incredibly disingenuous and cringey, like NatWest’s ‘We are what we do’. With this in mind, some people may believe that HSBC and JWT have taken advantage of a currently strained political climate where a lot of brands are jumping on the “social-change” bandwagon. However, I think JWT have tackled problems with division and racism within the UK in a really clever way – by using humour and fact, mixed with core principles from HSBC’s brand background:
We have been connecting the world through trade for 152 years. Our new ad campaign reflects our proud international heritage and our commitment to helping people, businesses and communities in the UK to thrive.