Nationwide doubles down on branch promise in new ad after ASA ban

Alex Sword


The Financial Services Forum

Nationwide has returned to the air with an amended version of its controversial advert, after the advertising watchdog ruled the previous version was misleading.

The bombastic advert launched back in October, featuring The Crown star Dominic West as an out-of-touch banking executive and contrasting the approach of high street banks with that of Nationwide. It featured a statement that “unlike other banks, we’re not closing our branches.”

However, it generated 282 complaints, including from Santander, over its claims that the building society in comparison to banks was not closing branches.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled this month that the advert’s claims were misleading. The ruling noted that in the 12 months leading up to the campaign, Nationwide had in fact closed more branches than Santander and that over a ten-year period it had still closed 20% of its estate.

Nationwide has now returned to the air with an edited version of the ad, removing the offending line and adding a new voiceover extending the promise to keep branches open until 2026 until at least the start of 2028.

Richard Warren, director of brand, marketing and corporate affairs at Nationwide, said: “At a time of significant closures across the country, our promise to keep every branch open until at least 2028 is unique in the market.”

James Murphy, founder of New Commercial Arts, said: “The Branch Promise is a definitive statement that no other bank has made. It’s great to be back on air so quickly with an even stronger version of a campaign the public loves.”

The centrepiece of Nationwide’s recent rebrand – ‘A Better Way to Bank – was its branches and a pledge not to leave any town or city in which it is based before 2026. It released a league table showing that it had the most high street branches of any major banking brand in the UK, at 605.

Much of Nationwide’s recent marketing has focused on explaining the benefits of building society to a new generation, especially as the cost of living crisis has given it a clear way of differentiating itself. While Nationwide offers much the same services as a high street bank, it is owned by its members rather than shareholders.

According to the mutual, the rebrand aims to ensure it “remains attractive and relevant for future generations of customers looking for a financial services provider that puts people before profit.”​

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