Peter York on ads No 280 Natwest Bank: A bank that helps you get out of the ant hill
So new bank advertising campaigns are interesting for precisely this reason - because they have to try so hard. They are huge accounts, spending tens of millions on TV, and they're attempting to solve massive relationship and branding problems.
NatWest, product of a 1960s merger, has possibly the most unfascinating name and logo of them all (the logo's a classic bit of 1960s corporate identity design - three foreshortened arrow things in a sort of triangle, meant to express all the dynamic nothingness of the "White heat of Technology" era: a period when the managers were still Captain Mainwarings). Not surprisingly they've avoided the caring, sharing banks-are-people-too attempt to give the activity a human face, realising that it's not going to be believed. They've gone for practical claims in two treatments.
In the air-safety manual treatment, everything's got a big red arrow for exit, and everybody's working to get free - escaping into the air- conditioning ducts, climbing filing cabinets to the window. Aircraft slides unfurl from office windows; ejectors send middle managers on parachutes to happy landings. NatWest, the voice-over says, arranged 67,000 such escapes last year - people who got away and set up their own businesses.
But the other treatment's more irritating. It's saying you can get cash from NatWest absolutely anywhere - more places than anyone else - but the graphic style's so utterly distracting you could miss the point, while you're thinking, why do the banks do this, why do they remind you quite so forcibly of their restructured, back-officed, processing-centred systems- driven Swindon and Bournemouth Seventies mid-rise office block culture by taking on this free form leading-edge imagery? And, alas, the terrible office ant-life prison in the clever air-safety cartoons makes you think of nothing so much as the world of the NatWest Tower.
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
- 3 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
- 4 UK weather: 'Coldest night of the year' tonight as freezing temperatures plummet to -10C
- 5 Game of Thrones is most-pirated TV show of 2014
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
From Marvel to Star Wars: The rise of cinema’s shared universes
Exodus: Gods and Kings banned in the UAE for 'religious mistakes'
Game of Thrones is most-pirated TV show of 2014
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk