“Challenger bank” TSB may be a bit less challenging for a while

It would be unkind to make too much of this, but Sod’s Law is currently afflicting TSB with a vengeance.  It was only about three months ago that the bank pugnaciously announced a year of intense challenge to the lazy and complacent “Big Five” High Street Banks – a challenge kicked off with a punchy new animated TV commercial depicting the Big Five as sleeping fat cats and TSB as a lively little squirrel running rings around them.  “Break free and go somewhere better,” the voice-over exhorted us.

Three months on, the fear now is that it’ll be TSB customers infuriated by their inability to access their accounts after a disastrous IT upgrade who’ll be doing the breaking free.  And “somewhere better” could mean almost anywhere.

As I say, churlish to make too much of this, and important to remember it could happen to anyone (and indeed has happened to several of those fat-cat competitors in the past).  But I think it is worth briefly pondering the implications of this kind of melt-down for marketers generally, and especially for those responsible for brand management.

Ad industry trade paper Campaign reported on January 22nd that “Five years after its re-establishment by competition authorities, TSB is planning to underline its challenger brand status with a year-long marketing drive encouraging consumers to end [their current] banking relationships.”  I suspect this “year-long marketing drive” may now have returned to its garage.

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