Adwatch Review: Barclays

Barclays
Barclays

LONDON - Tony Quinn, head of planning at JWT, reviews the Barclays TV ad which had the 13th highest recall with the public in this week's Adwatch.

I bank with Barclays. This is not because it offers a particularly natty brand of customer service or is really skilled at turning my meagre coppers into bundles of pretty green.

No, I bank with Barclays primarily because, when I was a student, it was considered wrong to do so.

I'm a bit like that. I nosed the brie last week for exactly the same reason. Something to do with being the youngest child, I suspect.

Anyway, because I bank with Barclays, I keep a particularly keen eye on what it's doing. It sort of makes sense to do so.

I've seen it go ‘Big' through Anthony Hopkins, ‘Fluent' through Samuel L Jackson and, more recently, ‘Small' through Stephen Merchant - a kind of banking Benjamin Button, methinks. How­ever, let's not confuse ‘small' with a paucity of ambition or a lack of vision; far from it.

If this spot is anything to go by, Barclays has clearly taken it upon itself to drop the smoke and mirrors, hyperbole and patronising tones of the past to single-handedly reposition banking. It has reinvented savings, for a start.

Basically, ‘new savings' goes something like this: you put your savings into Barclays and, if you promise not to touch it for a year or two, it guarantees there will be a fixed-term return waiting for you when you decide to take it out - about 2.25%, in fact.

Cor blimey, that is new. Savings that give you a small return if you leave it long enough? Amazing. Why didn't someone think of that sooner?

However, just in case such a banking-busting-breakthrough is too difficult for us to grasp, the lovely people at Barclays explain it through the simple medium of metaphor.

They literally plant pound coins in the ground and grow them, accomp­anied by the soothing tones of the aforementioned Merchant - I kid you not. I don't feel patronised.

By the way, I've measured the relative diameters of the coins that are planted versus those that are harvested, and on a basic annual projection, using the figures pub­lished, our savings would have to stay untouched for close to 4000 years.

Putting my flippant and deeply unpleasant sarcasm to one side, I really think this ad, and indeed campaign, is a missed opportunity.

What the banking industry needs now, arguably more than anything, is a leader. Not one who looks to wash its hands of the past (‘not me guv'), but one who looks forward, takes note of the changes and the lessons learned, holds integrity, honesty, profession­alism and transparency close to its heart, and who treats its customers with respect.

In that view, in my humble opinion, this spot falls well short. It's a shame, really.

I cycled through a red light this morning.

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