HSBC: from vague to pointless

In 2002 HSBC introduced its “World’s local bank” positioning with some greats ads: meaningful, relevant, engaging. as you can see here and here. Now, they often failed to deliver on that positioning, but as far as ads were concerned, they were getting it right.

They then stretched the concept further, and came up with this:

The very same thing can be looked at from different points of views, and have contradictory meanings.

It’s not about country-specific differences, so I’m losing some relevance towards the “World’s local bank” positioning, but arguably this campaign means that people at HSBC have an open mind: vague, but still somewhat meaningful.


Now, courtesy of Scamp (a guy I generally agree with, but not in this case), comes this brilliantly executed, totally pointless ad that you can enjoy above: the moving story of a girl trying to protect a tree, and a lumberjack that is doing his job cutting it down, until we’re revealed that…whoa, they’re dating!

Aside from the fact that the surprise ending was not much of a surprise for anyone, what is this ad supposed to tell me? That, even in a small town, different people value things differently…? Nah, really?!

Did HSBC really need to invest its money on a 1’41”, expensively produced ad to tell us that? And what does a bank (HSBC, any bank…) have to do with it???

I see that someone can say “they’re telling you a nice story, sponsored by HSBC”, but I can see this as a case of that “visibility is not enough” argument.  The point is not whether it’s a nice piece of content, the point is: was there no better way to invest all that money?

You’re a bank, for Christ’s sake, and all I take from this ad is that you put your money against a (relatively expensive) investment with little return and little relevance. Not quite the message a bank would hope to send around…


Final Burp: from Scamp’s comment, the best interpretation of this ad:

[…”Is the relationship between the woman and the lumberjack analogous to that of HSBC with a customer?

i.e. You know they get up to some evil, unenvironmental shit, but hey they’re a lumberjack/bank and that’s what they do. But they’ve got a bike/branches everywhere so you let them fuck you anyway/fuck you anyway.”]


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