Most financial services advertising is undifferentiated and irrelevant, with generic visuals and headlines/taglines like “A passion to Perform”, “Make it happen”, “You and Us” etc (HSBC’s campaign is a notable exception). It is rare to see communication highlighting specific products or bringing alive insightfully the overall proposition.
It seems that the communication in the category is an exercise in corporate ego massaging. Perhaps, inserts in leading news magazines like Fortune, Forbes, Time and management journals like HBR are trying to catch the attention of managers of the advertised company so that they can feel good about their own organization. The fact that marketing departments are clearly disconnected from the realities of the business, is evident from the following ad from FORTIS which appeared in the September 2008 issue of HBR.
In retrospect, “Here today. Where tomorrow?” is hilarious. It might as well be modified to “Here today. Gone tomorrow”, given what happened to FORTIS.
Understandably, the ad insert must have been booked a few months before the financial meltdown which led to the write-downs and part nationalisation of FORTIS. However given that the chairman of the company publicly highlighted its need for substantial extra funding and stated on June 28th’ 2008 that – “Fortis expects a complete collapse of the US financial markets within a few days to weeks. The situation in the US is much worse than we thought”, one would have expected a more prudent and thoughtful oversight over communication going out in the public space.
The larger point about the lack of Insight and relevance in most financial services advertising holds irrespective of the recent financial meltdown.