Ad Ratings Sector Spotlight: UK Financial Services

Ad Ratings has 390 ads in the UK Consumer Banking category, covering Consumer Bank Accounts, Credit Cards, Money Transfer and Price Comparison websites. 179 of these debuted in the past year alone, so it’s a hotly contested category and particularly difficult to cut through.

High Street Banks

Despite the fierce competition, the average Star Rating (long-term brand building measure) for UK retail banks has declined year on year, 1.83 in 2017, 1.38 in 2018 and to-date, 1.29 in 2019. We recently reviewed the best ads from Britain’s big 5 high street banks: at that point only three banks had managed to land an ad with 3-stars or above, so there was room for improvement.

One Nationwide ad, ‘Mary’s Man Friend’, bucks the trend and is the best performing ad for a high street bank in Ad Ratings this year. It posted a 3.7-Star score, a full 1 Star higher than any other bank in 2019 so far (TSB got second place). ‘Mary’s Man Friend’ is intimately human and humorous, quite unusual for a category awash with tired celebrity endorsements or vanilla vignettes symbolising momentous life decisions. The seemingly genuine friends are used to good effect, unobstructed by voiceover, and their conversation leaves people happy towards Nationwide.

Credit Cards

Despite Nationwide’s recent success, many high street banks and cards are suffering from a lack of identity, which is reflected in their scattergun TV campaigns. There is a general lack of consistency of characters, style and messaging across ad campaigns for multiple banks, which we know cuts off a route to long-term market share and profit gain.

Barclaycard are a prime example – using the Muppets, everyday people, celebrities and cartoons all in the space of the past 12 months. Their most recent ad ‘Antarctica’s got Talent’ features everyone’s favourite grumpy judge, Simon Cowell, but leaves the audience reaching for the red buzzer. Our second-by-second FaceTracing analysis shows the humour was wide of the mark, as many people feel disgust and contempt that grows consistently throughout the ad.

The result is a 1-star ad, unlikely to grow Barclaycard’s brand in the long term. But before he’s booed off stage, Simon at least manages to garner a respectable Spike score (our measure for short-term growth), as a result of the good branding and sharpness of emotions provoked.

Price Comparison Sites

The undisputed king of current Fluent Devices, Sergei has been the lovable flag bearer for Compare the Market for just over a decade, and his presence helps them maintain top spot over other price comparison websites. Their most recent effort ‘Auto Sergei’ – an Apple keynote parody – doesn’t quite hit their all-time highs (5-Stars) but still achieves a reputable 3.7-Stars, along with good Spike score and Fluency. The key reveal of the new auto-switching service is delivered with a joke that generates the peak moment of Happiness and Surprise. Simples.

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