Media: Creative impulse

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The Independent Online
The Co-Operative Bank has mounted its first national poster campaign to highlight its ethical banking policy. One execution uses TV footage of atrocities in East Timor, with a strapline that asks "Where's your money going?"; a second looks behind the glamorous advertising of cosmetics companies, and states "We never invest at face value". The two ads are appearing on the London Underground and in women's magazines, but, significantly, the "face value" execution was last month refused space by Vogue.

The client: the Co-operative Bank

Simon Williams, head of marketing

Our TV campaigns send more than one message about the bank, talking not only about ethics but also about service - how people can reach us, for instance. But with a poster campaign you have to get one big issue across instantly, and the issue we went for here was our ethical stance - our point of difference from other banks. Our competition usually just stress the so-called "smiling face" of banking, or tell you about interest rates, but we want to talk more seriously.

Based on our research, we have a strong mandate not to invest money in two areas: 95 per cent of our customers said they were opposed to the backing of oppressive regimes, and 91 per cent were against investment in cosmetic companies that experiment on animals. Not everyone cares about ethical banking, but a certain segment of the market does, and it's a segment that's growing - by 28 per cent year-on-year, in fact. It's women who seem most responsive to this policy: over 50 per cent of our customer base is female, and so the space we've secured in women's magazines will get us to our target audience.

The agency: BDDH

Owen Lee, copywriter

The Co-Operative is a bank that has something to say, which is a rare thing. Our brief was to advertise its policy of screening companies before investing in them, and we were given specific suggestions of good areas to touch upon. Animal testing was one such area, and it was this execution that was refused by Vogue, with the rather weak argument that it was "tediously controversial". We think the decision has more to do with the fact that the large cosmetics companies spend a lot of money with them.

This ad is meant to look like it has been ripped off at the corner, just as you see billboard posters ripped to reveal the poster underneath. The ripping-off has undertones of anarchy: this is our way of getting people to look behind the "face" of the company. On top you see the nice, plush image of the cosmetic company; underneath you see its more sinister side - the rabbits lined up in the testing laboratory.

We weren't seeking to be controversial: it's just that the bank's act of standing up and saying that it will not invest in unethical companies has proved quite controversial. These images are part of an ongoing campaign, which aims to produce advertising that is distinct from that of other financial institutions. It's a great account to work on, because the bank's stance allows us to do some strong work.

SCOTT HUGHES

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