The high-street bank is lining up a talent-contest-based campaign to flag up the refurbishment of its 1700 branches. The consumer-engagement activity will include local heats in seven UK cities
MAYBE - Mel Cruickshank, Managing director, LIDA
Coinciding as it does with the FSA's promised crackdown on the 'unacceptably poor' way high-street banks deal with customer complaints, one has to question whether this is unfortunate timing for this campaign.
That said, I can see where Barclays is coming from. Banks seek to attract young customers, so tapping into the dance craze would seem to make sense. Entrants will perform before a panel of judges and the winner will be decided by a public vote. If this sounds familiar, it should. It's a gold-plated formula.
So why am I sitting on the fence? Had the same campaign been launched by, say, a mobile-phone operator then it would have received my unequivocal yes. But, unlike phones, banks aren't perceived as cool. In fact, they've never been less fashionable.
The test will be whether this contest can generate the necessary street-level momentum to deliver a return on investment. I hope, for Barclays' sake, it soars like an eagle. I fear, however, that it will go sedately through its paces before plummeting like an ungainly turkey.
YES - Pete Markey, Managing director, More Th>n
With more than 10m people tuning into the latest series of Britain's Got Talent each week, jumping on the bandwagon with a talent-show concept may prove to be an inspired choice. As 'talent fever' sweeps the nation, Barclays may well benefit from the 'halo' of its Simon Cowell-inspired TV counterpart.
The challenge, though, in order for Barclays to ensure this idea is a success is for it to not just be a 'me too', but to help breathe new life into its communications by inspiring and engaging with consumers in what is currently a low-interest category.
To this end, a lot of thought needs to be given to how Barclays Live is unique and a real event in local communities - the prize fund and celebrity host is a good start, but there needs to be more. My hope is that there will be some rich digital content to see this idea really shine outside traditional media and influence beyond its traditional customer base.
NO - Jon Ingall, Managing partner, Archibald Ingall Stretton
Has Barclays got talent? I'm not so sure. From the heady heights of Samuel L Jackson fronting the brand to Brendan from Strictly in its latest campaign.
There's certainly a mass appetite for talent shows; most pull in record viewing figures. But that's no reason to attach your financial brand to one.
So Barclays has revamped 1700 branches - but what's dancing got to do with it? The key to any good tie-up is relevance. I find this activity confusing and, worse, try-hard. Customers will surely wonder, first, where Barclays got the money from to refurb its branches, and second, why it's now wasting their cash on something so pointless?
Post-recession, we want banks that are trustworthy, not frivolous. Broadcast is not always the answer but in this instance, a TV ad would have been more cost-effective than a national dance contest dissipating the message.
As you may have guessed, I won't be checking Twitter for competition updates any time soon. Also, I'll bet you a pair of Brendan Cole VIP tickets that very few people actually will.
MAYBE - Richard Exon, Chief executive, RKCR/Y&R
Barclays' branch revamp is certainly eyecatching, but whether the dance-competition mechanic will be wholly effective remains to be seen.
There's a surprising sense of frivolity that seems to have crept into Barclays' tone of voice recently.
Some may argue that this is refreshing and helps reposition the bank, but it also prompts some uncomfortable questions - not least of which is whether a troupe of gurning, dancing branded guardsmen in busbies is the optimum expression of Barclays' retail brand.
However, it's important not to be too poe-faced about this kind of initiative, and hats off to Barclays for trying something new.
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