Indirect and to the point : YORK ON ADS

No 66: FIRST DIRECT
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BANK advertising is difficult because people believe clearing banks are all the same - and all equally dull. Tens of millions are spent on bank ads promoting wholly non-credible benefits to no discernible effect.

One bank, however, presents itself as different, and uses distinctive advertising ap-proaches to emphasise it. First Direct is operationally different: it works through the telephone, at odd hours and at weekends.

First Direct is rather - indirect. It presents the life and times of, well, a "country of the mind" that looks awfully like London NW1, where people lead modern busy lives that aren't exactly Advert Yuppie. It's nicely observed, the interweaving of work and domesticity and sexual undertones. As these people go about their lives, what Tom Wolfe calls the "interior monologue" - what they're really thinking - appears in white letters on the screen.

Fed-up-ness, disbelief and disappointment register. A woman talks on the telephone about paying bills and arranging things, while she juggles a baby. Another watches a Bosnian news report on midday television and thinks men are pathetic.

If this sounds slightly drab, I think it's meant to be. But the action is bookended by a very good-looking, slightly androgynous girl who lies pensively in a bath at the beginning, and then restlessly in a bed at the end, in a most convincing and compelling way which raises the tone considerably.

Finally an old Argentinean academic- political-prisoner type says, on an "ob-served" crackly TV set (a favourite device of New Age ads), that he believes banking will become part of our everyday lives. It's a message that needs a lot of texture, a lot of toenail clipping, to achieve verisimilitude. But it's worked here. Peter York

8 Video supplied by Tellex Commercials.

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