– 31 October 2012

Banking brands are in a lot of trouble.

In the UK a recent survey on the credibility of banking brands showed that only some 53% of consumers there were willing to trust building societies or banks. The study by online market research agency, YouGov, found that only 63% of those surveyed trusted banks while some 57% trusted building societies. Bigger banking brands were trusted more while smaller brands were trusted less.

Corporate greed had a lot to do with eroding consumer trust in this survey, as did poor management and over- indebting customers. When the survey was released, YouGov’s James McCoy said that trust in the banking sector had to be built over time.

“Consumers place trust in financial firms that are motivated to help and support their customers and can deliver on their promises,” said McCoy. “To build trust financial services firms have to do it by continuously demonstratinghigh-quality customer care and a desire to align the firm’s motivations with those of thecustomer base. There are no quick fixes where trust in concerned.”

As if the trust issue isn’t challenging enough, other dilemmas that financial brands face include disruptions to their business models and the speed at which technology is changing. As the very foundation of banks change, how does one position banking brands favourably for the future?

Standard Bank has answered this conundrum with a very clever campaign that looks backward in order to look forward. The ad features a series of nostalgic footage that speaks to human progress.

Standard Bank Moving Forward Commercial

There’s shaky black and white camera footage from the Wright brothers’ first flight. That’s followed by industrialist Henry Ford’s first assembly line; women’s suffrage; a smiling Albert Einstein; dancing Charlie Chaplin and outward looking Ghandi.
These and other visuals are edited to a beautifully whimsical song that almost everyone knows called Sh-Boom. The song goes:”Life could be a dream (sh-boom) ; If I could take you up in paradise up above (sh-boom); If you would tell me I’m the only one that you love

Life could be a dream, sweetheart.

The television commercial comes home with video of a young Miriam Makeba jiving and a heart surgeon called Christian Barnard walking off an aircraft. Standard Bank’s ‘Moving Forward’ spot also reminds us of our first democratic elections, SA’s rugby world cup and the 2010 soccer world cup.

What’s intelligent about this ad is that it doesn’t fall into the trap of promising much or trying to predict the future at a time when it is more than impossible. It’s a much needed look into the rear-view mirror. Sometimes it feels like we South Africans are running so hard or are faced with so much, that we forget how far we’ve come – how much has been achieved.

The blue bank has been smart to reposition itself by asking all of us the question: ‘Doesn’t it feel good to move forward?” This, at a time when nostalgia is highly valued. By so doing the commercial movie by Egg Films’ Kim Geldenhuys cleverly reminds viewers that Standard Bank is a bank with a long history, a financial organisation that can be trusted, and that has stood the test of time.A big ‘thumbs up’ goes to ad agency TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris for a commercial that tells the human story of progress, and reminds us how good it feels to move forward.

It is worthwhile mentioning that BlackGinger integrated new actors into stock footage to bring realism to the ad which was edited by Kobus Loots at Upstairs Post, and features deft lip-synching to RobRoy Music’s mash-up of various versions of Sh Boom Sh Boom (Life Could Be A Dream), originally written by The Chords.“With each step forward for humanity, regardless of its scope, one thing remains constant: our joy in celebrating the act itself – that breakthrough moment of progress,” says Geldenhuys in a press released that crossed my desk.

I couldn’t agree more.