(Given the recent onslaught of heart-on-sleeve posts, I’m feeling the need to write about something pop culture. So, cue Jerry Seinfeld voice: What’s up with bank ads?)
On the radio, a fake traffic report featured the following (paraphrased) dialogue:
GUY: It’s slow-and-go on the 405 this morning and a little sluggish on the 10—
WOMAN: What about the 271?
GUY: What do you mean?
WOMAN: There’s the 110 and the 215 and now the 271—that’s how many locations US Bank has in Southern California!
Chase and Bank of America have similar ads, though I’ve mostly just seen billboard versions. Chase’s are plastered with palm trees tinted Chase blue, and B of A’s feature the same lame freeway jokes when touting “the 572” or however many ATMs they have around town. There’s also one featuring a guy saying, “Now I can bank online while I wait at the food truck!”
You can practically see right through the billboard to a table of executives—in New York or Beijing or wherever banks are headquartered these days—saying, “Okay, what’s Southern California known for? What will make locals think we really understand them?” And the execs shout out, “Palm trees! Traffic! Oh, and they put ‘the’ in front of freeway names, which is weird.” Then the meeting leader turns to the trend consultant they flew in from L.A. and says, “But what’s hot right now?” and she says, “Food trucks!”
I don’t really mind that advertising works this way, and I’m probably not even holding the fact that banks totally destroyed our economy a couple of years ago against them as much as I should, but I resent the shitty Mad Libs they use to create the actual ads. They’re like, “Hey L.A., we know you like [food trucks] and hate [sitting in traffic]. Please associate the fact that we know these things with warm, friendly feelings about our many bank locations.”
I refuse to, [name of a big lame bank]. Not unless you start trying a little harder.