Joshua Eichler-Summers
Blog of Josh Summers


Venture capitalist & founder. Lots to learn, but happy to help.
Investment Team at DN Capital
Founder of Taaalk

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Halifax Bank - A very bad display advert.

06 Mar 2015

I was browsing online the other day and came across this advert for Halifax Bank. It’s so bland that I almost didn’t see it. I forced myself to give it a little attention and realised that it was jam-packed full of problems. Problems are great because a lot can be learnt from their analysis.

We’re going to look at issues with the copy, the call to action, the image and the fine print (although that is infact the best part of the advert!). Let’s get into the examination.

The Copy

Switch to the bank that gives you extra.

Hover To Expand

We have a very hard time believing what brands say. I don’t know how it is in America, but in the UK we are all far too cynical to trust a company when it tells you how nice it is, or how much ‘extra’ it’s going to give you. As Ogilvy discovered through his research, facts are a great way to counteract this cynicism.

A great way to feel this is by imagining that you and I are on a date (oh hello!). If I told you that I was “a super kind and generous guy” it wouldn’t mean much - and you’d probably think I was a bit of an ass. But if I told you I’d spent the last six months volunteering to help build a school, and that I had to leave early tonight to dish out food to the needy, you’d either think me a liar or you’d start to realise that I am a super kind and generous guy. (Sadly, in this case you’d be mistaken for thinking the latter.)

“The bank that gives you extra”. What are you giving me????

The Call To Action

The call to action that follows this vague line of text is equally poor: “Hover to expand”. The problem with the wording here is the separation of my desire and the button. Very few people want to ‘Hover to expand’. Lots of people want to ‘Learn more’ about something they are interested in (not that they would here…).

It’s good web design practice - and good advetorial practice too - to connect the call to action with the reason behind it.

The Imagery

What is going on here??? Am I being guided to my new current account by an air stewardess?? This view - which we normally see when we’re feeling bored on a plane, wishing we weren’t being forced to listen to the same instructions again - has nothing to do with ‘extra’ in my mind, and I have a hard time imagining that it has a connection to ‘extra’ in anyone else’s either.

The Terms and Conditions

To get £5 each month pay in at least £750, pay out at least two different direct debits and stay in credit.

This is, in fact, the best part of the advert by far. I now have an idea about the ‘extra’ that I’ll be getting. I get £5 each month. All I have to do is put £750 in, pay out to two direct debits and don’t over spend. Sounds a lot like my bank activities actually - a free £5 is on the table for me if I want it! (I might actually want it.)

The same way that we don’t like hearing niceties from brands, we don’t trust their small font either. The true value proposition should not be coming out in the terms and conditions.

Inside The Expansion

I did ‘hover to expand’, and discovered that our air hostess is a still from a recent advertising campaign which depicts someone in a job that doesn’t appear very enjoyable doing enough good to airplane-society to be worthy of an extra £5 / month.

Not someone I aspire to be…

Click here to waste 30 seconds of your life [watch the advert in full].

My Own Version

I thought it would be fun to do a basic redesign of the advert based on principles that I think would improve it:

> An image that relates to the advert’s message
> A clear factual claim to dispel cynicism and convey a precise value proposition
> A more engaging call to action
> T&Cs in a font size that doesn’t look like something that’s trying to be hidden
> Research has shown lower case font is easier to read capitals

Here is my result:

Have any thoughts? Hit me up on Twitter.

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