Santander Offers Feelgood Family Reunions

Margaret's Story



Santander’s 2019 deal with top British celebrities Ant and Dec was one of the most ambitious in recent UK advertising – hiring such familiar faces to front your brand is a strong statement of brand-building intent. And the pair’s initial work with the bank was also very promising – setting up a Fluent Device scenario with the “Bank Of Antandec”, a hapless copycat venture (that uses all of Santander’s distinctive assets).

But as with many brands, the Coronavirus got in the way. Santander’s newest advert abandons the “Antandec” Fluent Device and instead presents a straightforward feelgood ad, with the pair (and Santander) virtually reuniting families separated by COVID-19 lockdown. The TV version focuses on Margaret, a likeable old lady, and her daughter (and the daughter’s dog).

The result is one of the strongest banking ads we’ve ever tested, a massive 5.6-Star effort with sky-high Spike and Brand Fluency too. The combination of celebrities and family reunions has a big feelgood impact. It probably helps that the ad airs just as lockdown is beginning to ease in the UK, with people actually able to see their friends and families again – under some circumstances.

But this also gives the ad’s videocall format a sell-by date. “Margaret’s Story” is very obviously a Covid-19 ad, and while it’s performed extremely well, we’re seeing a drop in the numbers of ads directly related to the pandemic. Our advice in general is that the pandemic should be “context not content” – it’s fine to reflect our changed world in your ads but it’s time to move on from focusing on the situation.

Where does this leave Santander? It’s never a bad thing to make a 5-Star ad, and “Margaret’s Story” may have a limited lifespan but it does help remind people of the brand and cement Ant and Dec as brand ambassadors.

Should they pick up where they left off once lockdown eases? We think they probably should. The two previous instalments of the “Bank of Antandec” campaign got a rocky reception in the ad press, but the ad press doesn’t always have its finger on the public pulse. And while they weren’t 5-Star ads, all the “Bank Of Antandec” work scored a high 3-Stars, which is a solid start for a Fluent Device campaign in a sector whose ads can be rather dry. “Margaret’s Story” proves that Ant, Dec and Santander can be a 5-Star combination – and gives the previous work a great platform to build on when it comes back.