The opening scene of the advertisement featured a couple in their kitchen. The man had just received their home insurance bill and they were both trying to recall the point in time when they had taken out their first policy. They are both portrayed reflecting back in time to when they visited their bank manager to sign for their home mortgage. They both envisaged the bank manager in their minds, sitting at his desk, surrounded by paper files. As he closed one file he opened another and they remembered how he had spoken directly to them as follows:
“Well that wraps up the mortgage. Now home insurance – it’s a complicated business but relax you’re in the hands of a master. I’ll give you all the details. For you I’d recommend a policy with an excess of €350, of course you can see my mouth move but really it’s just a series of noises. Eight months buying a house just want the keys, rumble, rumble rumble…”
The bank manager continues to speak in a monotone voice and we are taken back once again to the couple in the kitchen. The man says “Nope can’t remember”
A male voiceover then delivers the following message:
“Head not so clear when you get your home insurance? FBD can clear that up because our policy is you.”
The complainant said having worked in a bank for many years, with 20 of those years spent as a Bank Manager, he considered the role of the Bank Manager in this advertising was portrayed in a very bad light. He considered the role was being ridiculed and the Bank Manager was depicted as a non-caring, stressed out individual who lacked any customer care or empathy. He said his experience was that the general population of bank managers were totally committed to customer service, they were professional and carried out their responsibilities in a highly transparent and regulatory manner. He said it had to be noted that all bank managers must now be qualified to carry out their role, conform to Central Bank guidelines and be annually certified as compliant and fit to practice.
The complainant said that while the media had a tendency to discredit ‘Bankers’ it had to be noted that the current banking problems did not originate in the Branch system. He considered that at a time when the country was trying to get the banking system back to an acceptable norm, this type of advertising did very little to help. The complainant also said that it was erroneous to surround the Bank Manager with paper files as most current financial records were now stored online.
The advertisers said that there were two similar television advertisements in this campaign, one which focussed on the male character in the advertisement and the other on the female. They said, however, that both advertisements were similar in content.
They said that the key target audience for this advertising campaign was consumers who had taken out home insurance with their bank on receipt of mortgage approval and had not over the years explored an alternative provider. They said the creative concept had been built around insights which they had gained from extensive focus groups, with humour being the centre of the campaign.
The advertisers said that their research findings had indicated that buying a house and taking out a mortgage was a stressful, busy time and with so much going on “your head might not have been so clear” when the issue of home insurance arose. They said that rather than being critical of the Banks or their processes, it had been their intention to portray the experience and state of mind that mortgage customers had in relation to buying home insurance at the same time as taking out their mortgage. They disagreed that that the role of the Bank Manager had been ridiculed.
In relation to the concerns expressed by the complainant about the voluminous amounts of papers on the bank manager’s desk, the advertisers said that it was important to note that the entire scene set in the bank had been set in the past and was not supposed to be reflective of current bank practices. They said that it was clear from the first scene in the advertisement that the couple were clearly trying to recall when they had taken out their insurance policy. They said great care had been taken with the setup and decor of the bank manager’s office to ensure that a scene that was “back in time” was reflected. They believed this was evident from the type of computer on the bank manager’s desk, his dress and in addition it had to be taken into consideration the couple had been styled and dressed to look younger.
Complaint not upheld.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. They were of the opinion that when the advertisement was viewed as a whole and in context that it was clear that the couple featured were reflecting back in time to when they had been granted mortgage approval for their first home. They had been young and overwhelmed by the experience and by the time they had taken out their home insurance, they had just accepted it as being the norm and had little recollection of the procedures they had gone through.
The Committee noted that while the Bank Manager had made reference to the couple taking out a policy with “an excess of €350” and the euro had been introduced in Ireland on 1st January 2002 that it was nevertheless evident from the decor and the bank manager’s desk that the scene was set in the past. The Complaints Committee did not consider that the advertisement had breached the requirements of the Code and did not uphold the complaint.
No further action was required in this case.