Ad Lab: YouTube B.S., NFL Parody, Surrogate Mother

The Financial Brand reviews nine YouTube advertising and marketing videos from banks and credit unions around the world -- everything from the hilarious to downright weird.

LendingTree – Smells Like B.S.

A puppet saves his human friend from making a big banking mistake by calling B.S. on a home loan. “You won’t find a better offer,” the banker tells a customer. The puppet interrupts, saying he smells “B.S.” (that’s short for “Bank Speak”). The payoff: “At LendingTree, you can compare up to five competitive mortgage offers.”

Analysis: While some viewers might find this spot’s comedic hook (a play on swear words) a bit offensive, that’s what it takes to cut through the clutter in today’s advertising world. If your ad isn’t so edgy that some people might be offended, then it isn’t getting noticed.

LendingTree – “B.S. (Bank Speak)”

Barclays: Your Daughter is a Parasitic Bundle of Joy

Barclays ran this biting TV spot about a father and his high-maintenance daughter. It starts with the arrival of a “tiny little parasitic bundle of joy” who progresses from one new demand to the next: baby dolls, a bike, a pony, a car, a house. How can her dad put this incessant nagging to rest? By give his little girl everything she wants, of course. So thanks to a Barclays Family Springboard mortgage that allows parents to apply savings toward their children’s mortgages and get that money back three years later with interest, the devoted dad gets his money back with enough interest to buy himself a new convertible. And because what goes around comes around, his daughter now has a little parasite of her own.

Analysis: It’s an edgy but effective ad because it hits on real truths that resonate with consumers. Dads love spoiling their girls, but don’t want to go broke doing it.

You can watch a much creepier version of this “unconditional love” theme between parents and their children in this spot from Norwegian bank DnB.

Barclays – “You vs. Unconditional Love”

Elfcu: The World’s Most Depressing Office

This made-for-YouTube video from Elf Credit Union (who prefers to be called Eflcu, pronounced “elf-kyoo”) takes a dark, sobering look at the financial stress consumers face. The camera takes a tour around a typically dreary office. One woman has to check her balance to see if she can afford gas to drive home. A guy down the hall is divorcing his wife of 11 years, and he can’t afford child support and attorney’s fees. Another woman is two months behind on her mortgage and might have to go home with a migraine headache because of it. Someone else just lost their job. The video makes an important point — that employees don’t leave their financial problems at home, and it can impact their performance — but it’s depressing as hell.

Analysis: It’s always good for marketers to take on consumers’ real financial issues, fears candidly. But the more serious a topic is, the more uncomfortable people will become. If you are going to hold a mirror up, at least make people feel okay about what they see. That’s where a little levity can pay off. Viewers need a chuckle here and there to take the edge off weighty subjects.

Read More: Best of Bank Marketing On YouTube

Arvest Bank Apartment Life: Love Thy Neighbor

If you’ve ever lived in an apartment, you can relate to this commercial from Arvest Bank. It’s a hilarious parody of clog dancing tenants and neighbors that throw parties until 5 am can drive you insane. Annoying dogs, loud TVs, a tuba player — it’s enough to make you want a home loan from Arvest.

Analysis: If the Barclays spot was too acerbic and the Elf CU video was too gloomy, this commercial strikes a nice balance. There’s an annoying and poignant truth underpinning the Arvest ad, but it’s delivered in a palatable, pleasant style.

Arvest Bank – “Leave Your Apartment Behind”

Fort Campbell FCU: This is Our Stomping Ground

This gritty brand video by Third Degree Advertising for Fort Campbell FCU ($453 million in assets) has all the themes that will resonate with the military audience the credit union serves: freedom, independence, hard work, patriotism, local pride.

Analysis: Every detail in this video received careful attention, from the scenery to the narrator to the country western soundtrack. It convinces viewers the credit union actually understands the community it serves. This is blue-collar sensibility at its best.

Fort Campbell FCU – “Stomping Ground”

See More: Retail Banking Videos On YouTube – Weird, Wacky & Wonderful

Michigan First NFL Parody: October Loan Blitz

Little tiny NFL action heroes discuss the advantages of getting a loan through Michigan First Credit Union. Tom Brady needs to remodel his house. Ben Roethlisberger is buying a boat. Patrick Willis from the San Francisco 49ers is getting a monster ATV. And they are all (somehow) getting a loan through Michigan First.

Analysis: The video may infringe on the NFL’s trademark turf more than lawyers would like, but it’s pretty darn funny, especially if you’re a fan familiar with the football celebrities mocked in the ad. The spot uses an engaging and creative (if not somewhat juvenile) narrative mechanism to deliver a solid offer.

Michigan First Credit Union – October Loan Blitz

Affinity Plus: We Are Pregnant With Your Baby

How far will Affinity Plus FCU go for its members? According to this TV commercial, they will have your baby. That’s right, they believe in delivering service that goes so far beyond what banks can provide that they could be the surrogate mother of your child.

Analysis: You will either think this is so funny you’ll spit your coffee out, or you’ll think it’s so shocking and strange you’ll wonder how it ever got approved. This is a high-risk, love-it-or-hate it ad.

Bank of Ireland: Digging to Your Own Groove

This TV commercial shows people of all ages and flavors dancing to their own beat — hip hop, ballet, tango, ballroom, break dancing. Bank of Ireland uses the device as a metaphor for consumer individuality and channel preference. It’s a beautiful spot to watch. Here’s the script: “Everyone likes to do things their own way. That’s why at Bank of Ireland, we’re committed to offering you a choice of different banking styles, from branch banking, to online, and our mobile app. So whatever rhythm you like to move to, we’re always finding ways to make your banking easier. For small steps, for big steps, for life.”

Analysis: Some advertising critics despise “brand awareness” ads like these that have no offer and don’t promote any specific banking product/service. That Bank of Ireland gives consumers choices is great, but advertising three channel options — branches, online banking and a mobile app — feels like the bare minimum these days, not a real point of differentiation.

Bank of Ireland – “Dancers”

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