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The Nominees For Oscars In The Financial Industry Are…

The Financial Brand looked at hundreds of bank and credit union videos produced in 2011. If there were Academy Awards in the banking industry, here would be 15 of this year’s nominees. (Please note: This article embeds YouTube videos.)

Best Use of a Celebrity Spokesperson

Financial Institution: DnB, Norway
Title: Good Morning Mrs. Clooney

This spot is like a 30-second version of “The Hangover” for women. You wake up in a hotel room. You’ve obviously had a rough night. You look down at this ginormous rock on your ring finger. You’re married? You weren’t yesterday. You pick a wedding dress off the floor. Before you can think “What have I done???” none other than George Clooney steps out of the bathroom — for real, in the flesh. “I like your dress,” says the handsome Hollywood star. “Looks better off than on.” O.M.G. This commercial from DnB, a Norwegian bank, is hilarious. It’s a bit indirect with the link back to financial services: “Some people are lucky in life. For the rest of us, saving up can be smart.” But who cares? It’s super funny. The one-minute spot has been viewed over 2 million times on YouTube.


MARQUIS | TriggerPro

Most Freaky Guerilla Stunt

Financial Institution: NAB, Australia
Title: Guerilla Traps

NAB went fully guerilla with this pair of clever stunts. The Aussie banking giant produced two fascinating spycam videos capturing how people react when forcibly trapped. In one video, job applicants are held captive in an interview by a creepy manager who bolts and bars the doors. In the other video, apartment shoppers get locked inside a unit by the rental agent. The point? No one likes to get trapped, even in a home loan, so consumers should consider NAB’s flexible options. Don’t try this in kind of campaign in America, or you’ll get sued for kidnapping. Seriously.



Kane Graphical | Poster Blocks

Best Tear Jerker

Financial Institution: ASB Bank, New Zealand
Title: Mint Sauce

A young boy wants a new Nintendo DS. Alas, he can’t afford it. So the plucky little New Zealander decides to raise a sheep for slaughter (as boys in New Zealand so often do). But after nurturing his baby lamb, he has starts having second thoughts. In the end, he can’t do it, and opts to sell his sheep’s wool instead of its carcass. You know the expression, “You can sheer a sheep many times but only fleece it once?” It’s a touching production with a refreshing and honest perspective on humanity. It’s much more clever than many of the spot’s “Lemonade Stand” counterparts you see so often in the U.S.


Best Use of Man’s Best Friend

Financial Institution: FNB, Africa
Title: Lost Dog

This moody, 90-second TV commercial shows the lengths people are willing to go to for their pets… but with a clever, unexpected twist at the end. The minimalistic soundtrack (think: Trent Reznor’s soundtrack for “The Social Network”) creates a palpable tension, but the lofty narrated speech isn’t really needed. Dog lovers will totally relate to this spot.


Best ‘Glee’ Knockoff

Financial Institution: Innovations FCU, USA
Title: Bad Romance

The credit union’s staff get together for a dance routine ala Glee, set to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” There are two questions that will probably cross your mind when watching this video: (1) Who is this video for, and (2) how did a credit union with no more than 50 staffers wind up with so many young and attractive employees? The 4:48 long video obviously took a lot of staff time to produce, but with only 2,925 views, you might think it was more work than it was worth. But… Innovations’ employees clearly have a lot of fun making these little dance numbers, so maybe the answer to the first question is: The video is primarily made to benefit staff as an internal team/culture-building activity. You can see another video with the whole Innovations’ staff (including the CEO) in this superb 2009 Christmas video.


MARQUIS | TriggerPro

Most Ridiculous Lawsuit

Financial Institution: New Zealand Credit Union
Title: Piggybankers

This spot shows average consumers lugging their banker around everywhere, like monkeys on their backs. When one person toting a piggybanker walks into a New Zealand Credit Union branch, the banker gets tossed out. Bankers in New Zealand didn’t care for the message and filed a complaint, saying that it was an attack that discredited registered banks and thus was a deliberate attempt to undermine the stability of the country’s entire financial system. Psshaw!!! It’s a parody, lighten up.


Most Bizarre Cartoon

Financial Institution: Numerica Credit Union, USA
Title: Animal Instincts

This animated spot with bears and bunnies is so bizarre, you might have a hard time believing it’s a real commercial that actually aired on TV. You can watch another wacky animated ad — this one with raccoons — at the credit union’s official YouTube channel.


Best Drive-Thru Theater Act

Financial Institution: Michigan First Credit Union, USA
Title: Boogie Woogie Banking

Michigan First set up a hidden camera to film members’ reactions as a dance crew puts on a show in the credit union’s drive-thru lanes. “Would you like some entertainment today while you wait,” the drive-thru service rep asks. “Ummm, sure?” A troupe of seven young dancers pops out of nowhere, doing their thang to C+C Music Factory’s “Everybody Dance Now.” The credit union also surprised drive-thru members with a mariachi band.


Kane Graphical | Poster Blocks

Best Mr. Mayhem Imitation

Financial Institution: RaboDirect, Australia
Title: Stealing Your Dreams

A metaphorical thief working on behalf of big, bad banks steals people’s financial dreams — the same kind of dark humor found in Allstate’s Mayhem anti-spokesman character. Consumers are encouraged to steal their dreams back with a 6.5% term deposit.


Best Pirate Movie

Financial Institution: Island FCU, USA
Title: Pirates Tale

Aye, this video be a wee bit unusual mates. It starts with a one-minute narrative about big banks swindlin’ yer doubloons, then shifts into a singing/dancing pirate act (if you’re thinking of “Pirates of Penzance,” you’re about right). The lyrics, costumes and props in this video are all worth checking out. The credit union turned the three-and-a-half minute pirate production into a 30-second TV spot. Their website even has a banner ad saying “Tell yer bank to walk the plank!”


Best Villain

Financial Institution: NAB, Australia
Title: Banks Hate Us

You’ve heard the expression, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Well NAB tries to ingratiate itself with consumers in this TV advert by painting itself as the bank hated most by other bankers. The bank’s reasoning: If other banks hate NAB, they must be doing something right. The spot puts a fresh spin on an all-to-common meme in financial advertising: the reasons why people hate banks.


Avoka | State of Digital Sales Report 2016

Best Customer Testimonial

Financial Institution: Webster Bank, USA
Title: Type W Personality

This ad campaign features real Webster bankers and customers. The spot tells the story of one customer, Pat, who was about to depart for an early international flight. But Pat forgot her passport, which was locked in a Webster safety deposit box. So she calls Cheryl Poryanda, a real VP at Webster, who wakes up some folks to have them open the branch early. “Losing sleep over her customer’s needs? That’s just a part of Cheryl’s ‘Type W’ personality.”


Weirdest Use of a Talking Squirrel

Financial Institution: BankWest, Australia
Title: Click to Chat

A middle aged man woos his lunch date when a gust of wind suddenly blows his toupee off. Yikes! Fortunately, there is a talking squirrel lunching at the table right behind him. The helpful little bugger plops his tail perfectly over the man’s hairless dome. His date doesn’t notice, the man’s dignity saved. It’s cute. It’s creepy. And what does it have to do with the bank’s innovative click-to-chat online customer service program? Who knows? But aren’t talking squirrels cute?


Best Use of Bad Habits

Financial Institution: UBank, Australia
Title: Habits

This spot presents some common habits like nail-biting and toe-tapping in a lighthearted manner, then encourages viewers to start a new habit — one that’s good for you: a savings habit. As with many TV commercials these days, UBank opts for the creative non sequitur — 23 seconds of acerbic humor, followed by a casual segue into the product offer. It’s a good ad — better than most bank commercials — but it could do a bit more to highlight the benefits of frequent saving.


MARQUIS | TriggerPro

Best Use of a Goofy Foam Costume

Financial Institution: NAB, Australia
Title: We Killed The Asterisk

NAB ran a whole series of commercials where a couple of secret agents (Blues Brothers look-alikes) defeat a guy wearing a foam asterisk costume. The asterisk always ends up on the run and imperiled… or worse. NAB says consumers will undoubtedly encounter this evil asterisk character whenever other banks claim to have free checking. So NAB “kills” the evil asterisk to emphasize that their checking accounts have no/fewer conditions.


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All content © 2016 by The Financial Brand and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.

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  1. Hey! We’re feeling a little left out here in Alaska at Credit Union 1! If you want some warm-fuzzies, check out our Year of the Member videos.
    (Most of them can also be found on

  2. Ha Ha! Hey, well you can’t deny that our cartoon (Numerica’s Animal Instincts) got your attention! Seriously, thank you for sharing all these videos… they’re great for getting us out of our comfort zone and thinking creatively!

  3. We are very honored to appear alongside so many creative videos from around the world.

    At Michigan First, we are continually seeking out new and engaging ways to connect with our members and the community. Luckily, we have an amazing team with a talent for coming up with fun, out-of-the-box ideas. “Boogie Woogie Banking” is just one of dozens of examples showcasing why we are not your typical financial institution.

    Congratulations to all of the other organizations featured in this post. We can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

    Linda Douglas
    Vice President of Marketing
    Michigan First Credit Union

  4. Check out what our local financial services company put together. Really high quality for a hometown bank. Glad to know these folks….

    Businesses are getting back to basics.

  5. In the category “best use of real life situation” Deutsche Bank Belgium used 2 web films in order to mock the useless costs asked by the big Belgian banks. This campaign useless costs is really a success on Belgium’s YouTube channel of Deutsche Bank. please have a look at

  6. How is a credit union REALLY different from a bank? Learn about the difference between your local credit union and those big faceless banks. You might be surprised how great a local relationship can be.

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