Why Lloyds TSB’s “for the journey” campaign makes me feel queasy

In Blog by Ian Fraser2 Comments

29 July 2010

Am I alone in finding the “For the journey” television commercials for Lloyds TSB (early example above) nauseating? I would dislike these ads whichever brand they were for. But the fact they’re for Lloyds — a brand which like BP has become somewhat toxic of late — makes me queasy every time they come on telly.

The “For the journey” ads were first aired in happier times for Lloyds TSB. They debuted on television on February 4th, 2007 — long before Lloyds careered off the rails with its HBOS acquisition. But the ads continued to be used by the Gresham Street-based institution even after the HBOS deal completed in January 2009.

The animated campaign features members of a long-nosed family going on a train-ride through various stages of their lives. The ad characterizes Lloyds as a powerful locomotive, pulling its passengers wherever they want to get in life, a caring bank that will stand by them through thick and thin.

The ads are vomit-inducing because of the chasm between their faux integrity and the reality of Lloyds Banking Group’s behaviour today. Far from being a cuddly group that’s eager to help its customers, Lloyds is now a pariah, seemingly incapable of lending money at a reasonable rate or treating its customers fairly, despite billions of pounds worth of government bailouts.

If the group does announce it has returned to profitability in the first half of 2010 when it announces results on Wednesday, it’s worth remembering how this supposedly as achieved and what sort of institution Lloyds really is. Remember, this is the bank that:

  1. Pays its own executives, including chief executive Eric Daniels, obscene amounts for failure.
  2. Arbitrarily closes down business customers, seemingly on a whim. In recent months many loyal business customers have had their overdrafts called in — without any notice whatsoever. The effect on unemployment is fairly predictable.
  3. Is dishonest with its own staff, particularly  over the numbers who will lose their jobs as a result of the HBOS deal.
  4. Remains in denial about the serial expropriation of mid-sized corporate customers’ assets by HBOS affiliates in the Bank of Scotland Reading scandal, something which is now being investigated by an enforcement team from the FSA and other UK authorities.
  5. Unfairly writes off billions of pounds of debt racked up by favoured entrepreneurs such as Sir David Murray, chairman of Murray International Holdings and, unbelievably, Core Enterprise Management’s David Mills, whilst hounding minor defaulters out of their homes.
  6. Rarely admits to mistakes or compensates its victims. Indeed, its own executives have perjured themselves in court in order to achieve some of the above.
  7. Deceives ordinary savers through short-lived interest rate offers.

I could go on, but you probably get the picture. Overall, this institution has become much more of a sinister brake-van to the UK economy than a powerful locomotive.

For the record, the “For the Journey” creative ad idea was developed by Lloyds TSB’s former marketing director Nigel Gilbert together with the advertising agency Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R. The ads feature an intensely irritating soundtrack from Aussie composer Elena Kats-Chernin and a voiceover by Julie Walters (who really ought to know better!). After early accusations of pointlessness, the ads were defended by M Consulting .

Astonishingly this near bankrupt “zombie bank” which must overcome a number of challenges if it is to survive long term (including refinancing £165bn of ‘soft loans’ from the government), is channelling £80m into the London Olympics via a deal agreed in March 2007.

If you have any thoughts on Lloyds’s “For the Journey” ad campaign,  or the behaviour of Lloyds Banking Group more generally, I’d be grateful if you could leave a comment in the comments box below.

  • Bank of England governor Mervyn King yesterday lambasted banks, including Lloyds, for their appalling treatment of business customers. King, speaking to the Treasury Select Committee accused lenders of riding roughshod over longstanding business relationships by firing off computer-generated letters to clients demanding higher payments…
  • For more detail on Lloyds Banking Group’s behaviour since the HBOS acquisition — and why the ads should be stopped — click here and here.

Comments

  1. Ian, I’ve had a modest business overdraft with Bank of Scotland for a number of years and received the annual notice of review (which has passed quietly each preceding year) at the beginning of May. Two weeks before the review date I received a terse note asking for the repayment of it in full within 7 days. Or talk to my Business Manager with proposals – I haven’t had a Business Manager for 6 years. Talking to other small business clients, I’m not alone.

  2. Er, only surpassed in comedic value by RBS’s ‘financial education’ for kids campaign….

    Or is it just me?

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