Product doesn’t sell in retail banking

New data from System1 Ad Ratings shows that US commercial banking advertising focuses too much on product details, and as a result, many ads will not result in growth for their respective brands.

The Ad Ratings’ database features all 546 TV ads for financial companies in the US during the past two years. Using emotional response, it ranks best performing adverts based on predicted long term growth for the brand. Ad Ratings shows that only 7% of all commercial banking ads in the last 12 months achieved 3-star or above, these ads are predicted to result in a 1% share growth. Whereas almost three-quarters of adverts in the last year were driving 0% long term growth.

The Top 10 advertisers in the Consumer bank account category makes for an interesting read, with one notable absentee in JP Morgan (who only aired one ad in the consumer banking category):

Ad Ratings data found that of the top 20 best performing adverts of the last year, 80% do not explicitly mention a product or the benefits of a product in anyway. What’s more, 40% of the top 20 feature one or more celebrities, and almost a third include a viewpoint for positive social change.


Big 4

3 of the 4 biggest US banks made the top 10.


CitiGroup top the table, achieving an impressive average of 3.8-star. The pick of Citi’s recent advertising features Major-winning golfer Justin Thomas’ journey top stardom, from childhood. The ad’s closing scene links his progress to Citi’s tagline to ‘welcome what’s next’… The ad is predicted to create good long term results, hitting 4.5-star; but a below average spike score (short term sales spike) may explain the small figure supporting this ad, below $500k.

Bank of America had two ads in the consumer banking top 10, ‘Just Like You’ and ‘Moment of Joy’ both achieved 4.7-star.

Wells Fargo had the best performing ad in the category, ‘Holiday Meals Memory’ scored an impressive 5.3 stars by hitting the holiday feels perfectly. ‘Make your donation’, also reached the top-10 ads in the category.

Wells Fargo - Holiday Meal Memories - 2017

Commercial Banking

JP Morgan ads mainly fall within the ‘Business Service’ category, but their performance is considerably below the other big 4. From their average of 1.7-star, to their best-performing ad ‘Earn Points’ which achieved a muted 2.4-star. The ad (from 2017) featured a doughnut restaurant owner’s use of their product – card generated points – to reinvest in his innovative ripple donut, but consumers felt this ad lacked filling and will only produce moderate share growth.

JP Morgan Chase - The Ripple Effect (long form) - 2017

Challenger brands

Forcht Bank’s only TV execution used a tongue-in-cheek style to poke fun at advertising – featuring babies and puppies to steal attention and talk about how they’re different from other banks.

It worked, achieving a very respectable 4.7-star. Though the puppies and baby stole the show, branded recognition was average.



Ad Ratings measures the emotions an ad generates in the consumer and the intensity of that emotional resonance. This score is then weighted for business effect and a rating of one to five stars is produced. Potential long-term brand growth is then predicted based on the star rating: one star equals 0% brand growth; two stars is 0.5%; three stars is 1%; four stars is 2%; and five stars is 3%-plus.

Gabriel Aleixo, MD for System1 Ad Ratings said, “In hyper competitive markets such as banking, where many products are similar regardless of the provider, product features in advertising doesn’t resonate with consumers. Consumers are looking for a strong, positive emotional resonance to engage with. By using celebrities, social angles, or even just humor, any commercial banking brand increases its chances to achieve long term growth through their advertising. That’s why we see some more local brands such as Forcht Group, who delivered a 4.7 star rating with their Happier Banking ad this year, outperforming brands like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America”.


To see how Ad Ratings can help you, please get in touch.

Compare Your Ads


Test everything, assume nothing. Explore the unique subscription-based ad effectiveness comparison service and get a free trial.

Get In Touch

Got a Marketing problem? We'd love to hear about it. Tell us what you're looking for and we'll get in touch ASAP.