Built to last

On one of my latest ‘gradvertising’ applications I got asked the tricky “how to” question of getting the public to believe and trust again in banks. Queue anxious nail-biting, procrastinating and fidgeting on my part. The problem is that everyone seems to hate banks these days – bank-bashing has become the new status quo and cultural norm in “the age of austerity”. Even revamped waiting lines (aka Barclays) and cutesy, smiley taglines (hello Natwest, RBS and co.) are failing to do the trick. The banker has become the helpful scapegoat and evil villain in our times of woe, and it seems that brands are cashing in on this.

Infamously, a few years ago Carlsberg pulled their “if only we ran a bank..” campaign, which essentially encapsulated everything that banking is not – massages, rollerblades and all. At very least, this advert entertained an idealised image of the industry far, far away from the public’s perception.

Now other brands are positioning themselves against banks to suggest a different set of values – in other words that they function differently. Take these print adverts by Leagas Delaney London for Timberland that were helpfully brought to my attention by, the wonderful eye for adverts, Ad Teachings.

These adverts play off the public’s lack of trust in the banking system by aligning Timberland with values of integrity, reliability and durability – the fine “American institution” is unquestionably the hero. I like the wit of these prints and also how they attempt to understand their audience – the Timberland devotee who likes something they can trust, something from the “good old days” and something that doesn’t need to be flowered up with elegant copy or fancy lighting. These adverts emphasise the boot manufacturer’s tradition and heritage through their simplicity and careful wording, but essentially they work because they are positioned against something else. The bank is the big, bad wolf and Timberland represents the humble hunter – easily likeable and fighting a cause that everyone loves to hate.


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