Yorkshire take over !

Yorkshire. A massive County and a state of mind maybe after the 2012 London Olympics. A county that fires connections as soon as you mention it; Cricket, The Moors and Bronte sisters (without hats of course), Great Castles and Abbeys, The Steel of Sheffield, the grand coasts around Whitby and Scarborough, a great cultural scene with the Hepworth, YSP, York itself – all set to a stirring brass band soundtrack – and one of the great cities of the UK in Leeds at its centre.

The advertising of Yorkshire as a destination has a great call to action ‘Have a brilliant Yorkshire’.

Fair enough, I have lived in Yorkshire and loved it.

My Blog and this post though, are concerned with Marketing, and not of Yorkshire itself, but Financial Services.

I have posted before about the heritage of Yorkshire Building Societies, and Insurers and Banks abound in the County.

Three new TV campaigns borne out of Yorkshire are worth mentioning for their diversity and their aim, and that fact that all aired within a week of each other in May this year;

Yorkshire Bank are back on TV with a sweeping TV execution. This is a rare event in itself.

Let’s look at the facts: Founded in 1859 In Halifax, now a trading name of Clydesdale Bank which in turn is a subsidiary of National Australia Bank Group. Not the most promising structure from which to start a heritage play. But for Bankers building trust is the biggest game in town. You have to give it a go, or do you? (see First Direct later)

The TV ad is a minute of well crafted TV, scene by scene it hits you with resonance’s:

  • Fishing – Trawlers and the magnificent Yorkshire Coast – Whitby to Hull
  • Agriculture – calling to mind the vast moors and farming at the heart of the Dales
  • Modernity – to capture the hearts of the city dwellers of Leeds, Bradford & Hull
  • Steelworkers and a furnace – to warm the hearts of South Yorkshire’s finest
  • The boxing looks a clear play on the Olympic tradition and a subliminal reference to Nicola Adams/Billy Elliott
  • The NHS – perhaps a reference to the world famous Jimmy’s, but it’s a big employer regardless in such a large county

Clever ! Very clever in fact.

But the strap-line is horribly confusing – “We care about here” – in the context of examining the ad in detail it works, but even their own website (unusually clear and coherent for Financial Services) muddies the water – if you have to think what it means it may not be working. The clear idea is to target Yorkshire based folk – and it may well resonate with that audience, I fear for its reach though. Still, its nice to see them back !

One thing to note is clever use of photography on the website too – Humber bridge, Scarborough coast perhaps – nice colour palette too.


Yorkshire Building Society

They have extended their TV exposure and are continuing with their heritage focused advertising, but bringing in a rational trust argument alongside the emotional references. That end play is all about Mortgages, seasonally quite apt.

The Ad over labours the engagement metaphor, but I like it. The voiceover being earthy and Northern fits well. There are two points worthy of pulling out: emphasising the words “fair’ & “built” (on trust) works really well. Coupled with a measured tone you get the sense of a business on your side – Mutuals should be ! and one that is not jumping on a bandwagon. The more I listen to this “Built on Trust Campaign” the more I like it.

The Steve Reich like metronomic quality of the soundtrack drives the ad along to a nice CTA “Search Yorkshire Mortgages” … a clear invitation to the rest of us to bid on that term of course ! (sorry!)

First Direct – yes, they are Northern – based in Leeds.

Well their new TV and social media executions demonstrates a very different approach.

All I will say here is that is demonstrates consistency. You will either love or loathe it. It’s either quirky and original or pretentious twaddle. My observations:

  • It gives stand out if you persevere with the ad to find out its a banking ad
  • It is brand consistent – B&W, quirky (remember the Vic and Bob ads)
  • It plays well into an area First Direct obviously see as at the future – Social Media – the unexpected tweet is the latest in a line of attempts to leverage that channel

I know how good their service is, but recently they have been in the same zone of buying business with £100 incentives as many others have done, clearly a follow me strategy. This campaign, though is back to a strategy that clearly says .. Well we can go here and play amongst Meerkats … can you, other banks? No? I thought not.

The answer used to be some could .. Remember Cahoot and Smile. Those days are gone. For me only Triodos Bank and First Direct are operating a differentiated approach to their marketing in Banking terms.

So in summary … we may need to start adding Advertising to the things we associate with Yorkshire pretty soon.

Let me know what you think of these three different ads …


02 June 2013




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2 thoughts on “Yorkshire take over !

  1. As you know I loathed the YBS ad because I absolutely loved the emotional place it was coming from and I totally believed another little northern financial institution should occupy that space entirely… Yes, I was incredibly jealous!
    And then I met the truly glorious, platypus that walked into a bar and my life! I love him. He’s cynical, cool, a bit retro; absolutely my cup of tea and First Direct’s target market.
    I love everything that ad stands for. I love the ad itself, the out take clips, the whole nine yards.
    This fella is not a meerkat, though let me be very clear, I’ve admired the residents of Meerkovo for a long time. it’s a different market and a very different, equally clever approach. It has been a very long time since I’ve admired any advertisement for any sector so much; and then it gives more, its 6 or 7 YouTube out take clips make me actually love it!

    • I think the Platypus has legs .., so to speak … The birdsong is the glorious piece for me & the whole idea of collecting vinyl. Lovely.

      A real return to form I think and a brilliant platform to use in social media / compare it to the lame attempt by Confused.com and Brian the Robot on twitter/YouTube.

      Brave advertising stands a better chance of success every time for me ! Just a shame that Smile has not had the same chance recently

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