Taking stock of financial services advertising was the focus of the Financial Mail AdForum, which took place at the Vega School in Johannesburg, in association with Ornico.

The panel, chaired by Jeremy Maggs, included Ornico’s Mongezi Mtati, Grey Advertising’s Fran Luckin, Avatar’s Veli Ngubane and TILT’s Arye Kellman.

Ads that stand out in the financial services sector need to offer a human insight and a narrative that resonates and connects. Money represents our security and as such it has a powerful emotional hold over us. However, most of the ads featured in this Financial Mail AdForum were fairly rational and failed to tap into any human emotion.

The first ad under the spotlight was a print ad for ABSA which Kellman said felt like an after-thought. The ad, said Luckin, had the kernel of a good idea but failed to land the relevance of the first message. The panel agreed that the creative – the art direction, in particular – was lazy and let the ad down. From a copywriting perspective a strong insight was coupled with irrelevant copy and there was no call to action. The ad was red carded by the audience.

A television commercial for Capitec was too busy to follow effectively, the panel agreed, but did show that Capitec had moved its value proposition to appeal to a middle class market. The brand intrinsics were well communicated, said Ngubane, but the commercial would have benefited from rather focusing on just one character. Mtati said the commercial was not particularly memorable. Despite the panel’s less than enthusiastic response to the commercial, the audience gave it a green card.

A Debt Busters television commercial was criticised for its scary warning without providing an effective solution. Luckin said the message was well told although Ngubane called it overly dramatic. The audience gave the commercial a green card.

FNB Premier’s radio ad worked, agreed the panel. The radio spot had a degree of authenticity and provided a single message rather than a barrage of information.

An Investec Private Banking print ad, part of a larger campaign, did not work in isolation, most of the panel agreed. Luckin called it confusing and said the headline needed tweaking. The ad was red carded.

Liberty’s Income Protection radio ad did the job, albeit not in a particularly exciting way, the panel said.

Despite a beautifully produced and captivating television commercial for Nedbank describing what money can achieve, Kellman said the commercial needed a South African aesthetic. He questioned why a local brand was shooting a commercial for the local market in the USA. “This would have been a great ad for a US bank,” Kellman pointed out.

Mtati said in spite of the fact that it was not filmed in South Africa the commercial resonated because it included universal truths. Luckin said there was an emotional distance in the ad. “This feels like a long walk for a ham sandwich,” she said.

The next commercial, a cut down television commercial for Rand Merchant Bank, was dubbed ‘rowing interruptus’ by Maggs given its abrupt ending. The panel agreed that the commercial felt rushed, abrupt and didn’t work in this instance.

A Standard Bank radio ad promoting an app for forex felt like it was a decade old and was formulaic, the panel said.

The final commercial of the day, a television commercial for Virgin Money Insurance, was punchy, short, amusing, fun and worked for the brand, said the panel. The audience agreed with the panel that the ad was memorable and gave it a green card.

The big take-out: Much of the financial services advertising currently being flighted is very rational and fails to resonate, agreed the panel at the latest Financial Mail AdForum.