Peter York on Ads: A cunning attack on Mr Stodgy
No 297: Smile
The bank is running two treatments. In the first it's a parade of strong, sad faces, filmed with one of those under-sea gloom-green filters. Everyone has pronounced noses and deep hollows. Several are black. "The world ends 28 10 99," says the grim caption. Then there's a long pan to a pretty mixed-race girl who looks about 14, but sad, too. "Smile," says the screen in pink letters and a modish Modernist Revival typeface: Smile is the internet bank from the Co-operative Bank.
In the other treatment, there is a sublimely miserablist setting in black and white - a concrete car-park, with tower blocks in the background, and disconsolate people, and cyclists in slo-mo. And rain. A running man, rushes at a shop door where they're turning the card from "open" to "closed". Then they tell you again that the world is ending.
It's intended to recruit a particular group of people - young, "media- savvy", net-literate, all those things of course - screening them out from the less responsive souls who'd far rather interact with the fridge than an online bank. Precisely the group that can see itself being targeted a mile off.
Here, however, the Co-op Bank has a huge advantage in its corporate brand: its non-membership of the Big Four; its "community bank" background; its recent ethical-bank positioning. All that's a better launch-pad for an internet banking initiative than a history as Mr Stodgy of the High Street. And it makes this moody style - there's something reminiscent of the launch campaign for Heat magazine about it - more credible; the Co-op Bank's been doing the New Age look since the early 1990s.
There is already a fair bit of this - steam-age TV advertising selling dedicated online services. There'll be a lot more. Some advertisers - like AOL - aim to make themselves desperately domestic and user-friendly. Others, like Smile, recognise and exaggerate the culture gap. And I suspect its website itself could convince the Big Four's younger customers to move overnight.
Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boymusic
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 Google April Fools': company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant
- 3 I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts
- 4 April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Katie Hopkins reported to the police for race hatred by Labour MP Simon Danczuk after tweet about Pakistani men