NatWest’s soap-style brand-building campaign, based on the Canning
family, is facing the axe because of pressure to cut costs in the wake
of the bank’s disastrous foray into investment banking.
The campaign was launched just 18 months ago through Bartle Bogle
Hegarty and was intended to position NatWest as ’More than just a bank’
by showing the Cannings using the bank’s different products and
services. In the past year, pounds 12m has been spent on the TV ads.
But head of brand communications, Ian Schoolar, was this week unable to
comment on whether the campaign would continue, as marketing budgets for
the 1988 calendar year were being finalised. He would not comment on
what the chances were of the campaign appearing again on TV. ’We are
happy with the strategy behind the Cannings but I cannot comment
further,’ said Schoolar.
The bank is to embark on a new press and poster branding campaign
through Ammirati Puris Lintas which will make no link with the Cannings
characters or TV strategy.
Sources say that all business units within NatWest are under pressure to
reduce costs following the losses made by NatWest Markets, the bank’s
investment banking arm, and the pressure this has placed on the bank’s
In the past year, the bank was rumoured to have been in merger talks
with Barclays, to have approached Abbey National and to be considering a
deal with Prudential.
One source said: ’All TV budgets have been cancelled. I would not be
surprised if we did not see the Cannings again. One of the problems with
the campaign is that it needs money to develop the characters.’
Another source said: ’What is the point of investing millions in brand
building when the brand may not exist in six months’ time?’
NatWest withdrew from the investment banking arena last week with the
sale of its UK and European equities business and its US and Asian
See analysis, page 17.