When I go to America, I’m always looking for some advertising ideas to copy. (Not verbatim, of course. It’s more a question of looking for different directions – different creative or strategic solutions to the problems, which are of course basically the same over there as they are back here.)
Even though it lasted for the best part of three weeks, my most recent trip wasn’t a huge success in this respect. Financial advertising-wise, I’ve come back more or less entirely unstimulated. This may be to some extent a consequence of failing middle-aged memory and unwise reluctance to make notes, but I’m pretty sure it’s also because there wasn’t much going on.
A few hazy points of mild interest (not very inspiring lead-in, a bit like what’s said to be the world’s most boring newspaper headline, Small Earthquake In Peru, Few Hurt):
– The default for all financial advertising in the US is to point the camera at your customers (very often a microphone too, so that they can deliver glowing testimonials). In the UK, banks and other mass-market organisations often do this, but those targeting the more sophisticated and/or upmarket hardly ever do. When did you last see a picture of a customer in an investment funds ad?
– You see as much advertising for financial advice or financial planning as for any other category, probably more than for most. In the UK there is virtually no advertising for financial advice: I wonder if this will change post-RDR?
– Press headlines are still a bit smarter and sharper. The only one I can remember was for a fund group’s online risk management tool, which said: “What’s that ticking sound coming from your portfolio?” It’s not brilliant, but it’s better than the self-congratulatory piffle that accounts for 99% of UK fund groups’ ads.
– US retail banks don’t seem to be hated as much as ours (or, if they are, they haven’t noticed). There’s no sign of the pathetic defensiveness of NatWest’s “Helpful Banking” campaign: American bank campaigns are built on the assumption that they’re doing a great job for their customers, and their customers love them for it.
– The US regulator doesn’t seem to be anything like as determined to fill US campaigns with bucketsful of alarming, discouraging and incomprehensible nonsense, thank God.
– But, let’s be honest, when all’s said and done, it’s still pretty dreary.
I’m sure that far more interesting and perceptive commentaries could be written, but sadly not by me.