Review: Feel-good banking

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Indy Lifestyle Online
TV Ad: Lloyds TSB

A small boy stands in a field, miserably looking up towards his kite which is snagged in a tree. A group of villagers in a torrential downpour are threatened by flood. A caravan's wheel spins as the driver struggles to free himself from mud.

These three images suggest a particular range of emotions. Frustration. Isolation. At worst, a sense of foreboding. Set them against a soaring, instrumental snatch of "I Vow to Thee My Country", however, and the true message becomes immediately clear.

As the music soars, dad and his mate work together to untangle the kite, the villagers form a chain to pile sandbags against the flood and a passing group of men scrum down to shove the caravan out of its muddy hole. "When you work as a team you can achieve so much more," a voice-over declares. "Lloyds TSB: In union. Working together to bring you more."

This is the first part of a major brand-building campaign for the bank and the first significant advertising since the merger of Lloyds and TSB last year.

The end result, however, is a peculiar mix. True, the bank has scored little short of a coup with its introduction of the Coca-Cola "feel- good" approach to the traditional, dry and dusty world of financial services advertising. And there's little doubt that the images of individuals grouping together to overcome adversity is a powerful one.

Yet something rankles. Call me a cynic, but the end result reinforces somewhat darker feelings of frustration that all too often accompany dealings between customer and bank. For all the talk of teamwork, glossy images of individuals joining together to triumph over adversity smacks more of us against them.

Even so, it's a promising start. There's little doubt the commercial delivers the suggestion of stature and authority Lloyds's past advertising has, curiously, always seemed to miss. Remember that dreadful "Tales from the Black Horse" series of adverts conjuring jolly yarns from the Middle Ages? Or that frightfully twee Jan Francis and Nigel Havers campaign?

In its newly merged guise, Lloyds TSB has wiped the advertising slate clean, it seems. The challenge from now on, however, will be to ensure that in its one-to-one, day-to-day communication with its customers the bank manages to match its new TV campaign's rousing theme.

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