Can advertising restore confidence in banks?

1Without getting tangled up in the issue of who’s to blame for the economic crisis, one thing for certain is that the reputations of banks and other financial institutions have taken a battering.

The question is, what can they do to restore the faith of consumers? If recent activity in the Middle East is anything to go by, banks are refocusing on their marketing plans.

Several banks across the region have either launched new campaigns or they are at various stages of pitching their advertising and media briefs.

Trimming budgets and seeking better value for money  are obvious motivations for holding pitches at the current period, but the need to re-establish a connection with the public, win their confidence and ultimately improve profitability must also be key concerns.

Alexis de Beauregard, chief marketing officer for the Gulf operations of insurance giant AXA, says certain perceptions need to be overturned. In the past year, the company has changed its ad agency from independent orangerie to Publicis Groupe and more recently shifted its media brief from OMD to Havas’ MPG.

In the latest edition of Campaign, he says: “We’re taking the lead in trying to change the perception of the industry and restore faith with our customers but it’s very difficult. It’s a lot quicker to destroy your brand rather than create it. It’s not just local companies, it’s international companies here. They took a lot of time building their brands over a number of years and destroyed it in about a year and a half.”

Agencies are effectively being asked to turn the tide. It’s a steep challenge.Is the region’s ad industry up to the task? Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank apparently thought not when it turned West and hired Fallon to create the ‘Long live ambition’ campaign (the merits of which have been fiercely debated).

More fundamentally, can any advertising agency realistically drive the widespread change of perception that financial institutions now require?

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5 Responses to Can advertising restore confidence in banks?

  1. Sudesh Jog says:

    Influencing brand perception needs communication – the moot point is whether the loss of confidence translates to lack of belief in the advertising.

    I think it does, and it needs to influence the communication plan. The top few for me would be,
    – anchor advertising in verifiable claims – third party (industry expert, regulator) etc
    – anchor promises with a product guarantee
    – shift the balance towardss PR – get media experts to review/endorse

  2. Rather than this perpetual smirking over the mediocrity of Fallon’s ads, perhaps we should be asking ourselves why ADCB didn’t think agencies here are good enough – or trustworthy enough – to be given the brief.

  3. N says:

    What has AXA to do with banking?

  4. Nariman says:

    The question should be, Can Banks have confidence in advertising and agencies in the first place?
    banking category is always been moving in place and slowly “if any” developing or making a leap in communication.

  5. N says:

    Crown Bank, though not a giant financial firm, is doing great with their communications.

    http://crown-bank.com/index_hasflash.asp

    They are all about their clients, not about themselves. Here is what they communicate through their ads:
    “Imagine a bank that actually helps you get what you want. Instead of red tape, loan committees and canned lending formulas, work with a decision-maker who can back you up from start to finish.”

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