financial services

Bank Of The West Breaks From Previous Creative


Bank of the West is hoping to differentiate itself from some of the less-than-forthcoming offers made by competing banks.

In its first work for the San Francisco-based bank, ad agency Heat -- also of San Francisco -- is also breaking from past creative efforts, which primarily featured lifestyle photography.

Tagged "another reason to go west," the campaign, which broke earlier this month, is running in 16 Western states. It targets potential customers ages 25-45 who have recently changed jobs, moved, or married, since they are the most likely to switch banks.

Ad agency Heat recommended to Bank of the West that the advertising needed an "iconic look" in anticipation of repositioning the brand this summer, Heat President John Elder tells Marketing Daily.

"We see this as bridge work that will get us from the quieter approach they ran with before they hired us to the eventual new branding," Elder says. "As such, we wanted to lean into their assets, including their colors, typeface, and most importantly, the Bear, which is the one asset they are known for in communications. We settled on a bold, graphic approach to help them get better noticed, since we won't have the same budgets as their larger competitors."



The promotion will run for six weeks. "For this quick turnaround launch, we produced radio, newspaper, online and in-branch communications," Elder says. "For the next phase, we are considering television, out-of-home and experiential advertising as additional potential vehicles."

Four 60-second radio spots will air on 164 stations, primarily during drive time. Two newspaper quarter pages run in 98 community dailies and weeklies, and two banner ads appear on geotargeted news and social media sites. Print and radio were bought by Mediaspot, Newport Beach, Calif., and online by Red Bricks Media, San Francisco.

The radio, newspaper and online ads aim to win new customers with the offer of a $100 bonus for opening a free checking account. The radio spots include the distinctive voice of actor Daniel Stern, best known for his roles in "Home Alone," "Diner," "Breaking Away" and as the narrator of "Wonder Years."

The radio ads call attention to the "fine print," which other banks try to minimize. "Bank of the West would like to talk to you right up front about our asterisk," says Stern in the spot. "Specifically, the one that sits right after the following offer: Open any new Bank of the West Checking Account and receive $100."

In another radio spot, he says: "The lawyers at Bank of the West said that if we explain most of the terms and conditions of our 'Open a new, free personal checking account and get $100, promotion' up front instead of reading them really, really fast at the very end of the ad, we could use that time for something a little bit more fun."

That spot ends with Stern's rushed legalese recitation: "Some suggestions apply: Please spend the money on something, or somebody you love. Take your wife out to dinner for no reason at all -- and make it someplace fancy. Fill your car with high-grade and then go for the deluxe wash with tire dressing. Drop a $20 in the tip jar at the coffee shop -- it'll make someone's day. And by all means splurge -- move your finger a little bit farther down the wine list. Whatever you do, don't use it to pay your phone bill, because that's just no fun at all."

The campaign's print and online executions take a similar approach, using their largest typography for the asterisk and for the words "the fine print."

Bank of the West has customers in all 50 states and over $58 billion in assets.

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