Nat West
TV & Video Production

The complexity of exactly what went wrong in the banking sector in 2008 places a full understanding of it beyond most of us. Thoroughly irresponsible practices where behind the financial crash or perhaps these failings were largely prompted by greed. In any case NatWest found itself at the epicentre of the crisis.

Billions of pounds of tax payer’s money were used to prevent it from going under, most of which will never be repaid. Despite this, NatWest and the other banks have – for some time – once again been issuing huge bonuses to the very speculators whose behaviour prompted the crisis in the first place. Because of this, it became almost impossible for banks to market themselves in the immediate aftermath of those events… so they didn’t.

When they eventually began to raise their heads above the parapet, they did so cautiously, seeking to reassure us with contrition and this TV commercial possesses more than a hint of mea culpa.

So in this black and white TV ad for NatWest, we asked the viewers to hold the bank to accountable for its actions.

Even though the vignettes are, ostensibly, a reflection of the diversity and complicated lives of the public, the assertions work equally well as an expression of the advertised bank’s personality. It – like us – has been “thoughtless” as well as “thoughtful”; “cruel” as well as “kind” and so on. It has a confessional quality as it seeks empathy for its very human traits.

The stark monochrome imagery combines with an insistent voiceover to command the attention and this certainly creates a sense of gravitas for the bank. With many of the conditions which caused the 2008 crash still unresolved, the possibility of another crisis is never far away, maybe a perfect opportunity to be reassuring about our ability to offer financial shelter, if the worst should happen? We thought so.

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