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Are the UK’s big banks ganging up on Nationwide over Dominic West ad campaign?

ASA has received nearly 300 complaints

So who are the 273 people who, at the end of last week, had complained to the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about the Nationwide ad from New Commercial Arts featuring actor Dominic West as an arrogant manager from A.N.Y. Bank? Not that you’d find such people at Nationwide of course, a mutual but one of the UK’s bigger banks.

The first ad in the campaign is about closing bank branches. Nationwide says it isn’t, rather it’s adding them.

The ASA isn’t saying, quite properly, but Sky News reported that Santander had complained. But who are the others? They can’t all be PR lackeys from Nationwide’s competitors (Lloyds, Halifax, Nat West, Barclays and Santander) surely?

Hard to imagine the public being this outraged: Britain’s banks are indeed closing branches all over the place and even dragging their heels over setting up hubs for customers of any bank (even A.N.Y. Bank) who still want to use cash and, occasionally, talk to a human being. Times columnist Ann Treneman regularly fulminates about this as her Peak District market town is now bank-less. And she’s right. Indeed some of the Nationwide complainants may be from places where it has closed branches.

Nat West, which triggered the banking crisis of 2008 in its then guise of Royal Bank of Scotland, has just reported 2023 profits up 20% at £6.2bn, chiefly on the back of higher interests rates, not anything resembling clever banking. Its CEO Alison Rose resigned last year in a puff of smoke after Nat West-owned posh bank Coutts “de-banked” right wing politician Nigel Farage over his views.

Nat West and its peers could easily afford to keep more branches open, just put it down to the PR budget. Alas, like most big companies these days, fixated by “shareholder value,” this would indicate left-field thinking – and we can’t have any of that.

So do ads like Nationwide’s current campaign work? NCA is keeping its head down but is known to think the fuss supplies “oxygen” to the campaign. Nationwide, one would guess, is pretty pleased although it will be interesting to see if it keeps its nerve. Depends on the fortunes of what seems to be an orchestrated ASA lobbying exercise, I guess.

One Comment

  1. I am one of those that have complained. I’m not associated with a competitor bank, simply a longstanding member.

    I find the arrogant ‘holier than though’ attitude out of line with the inclusive, community values on which building societies are based.

    To imply it’s ok to call their competitors staff ‘wankers’ is at best misguided.

    Nationwide should get their own house in order before knocking the completion. Perhaps they should shave some money off these indulgent marketing campaigns and improve their online offering, or make their savings and mortgage products best in class.

    Or give their staff a pay rise! Anything is better than wasting money on ads like this.

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