Wednesday, May 11, 2011

your presence in my neighborhood is an incentive to stay inside and bank online

(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.


Peter Varvel said...

Remember the "Noid," the shill for a well known pizza chain?
I am suspicious that some advertisements and television commercials are deliberately made to be irritating so that they're more likely to get stuck in your craw.
The annoyance factor can get people griping/talking about a product, at least.
Stupid marketing . . . stupid advertisers!

Cheryl said...

Probably true. Larry the mattress guy, the Robbins that definition, almost all radio ads are EXTREMELY successful. (And I did once buy a mattress from Sit 'N Sleep.)

Claire said...

Even more than their ads, B of A would have to eliminate most of their ridiculous fees before I'd consider them. Why would I bank there (though admittedly I don't think there is one here, but I did get their info when I was in LA) when I can bank with NO monthly fees, NO required minimums. Do they really think 1% cash back or that stupid round-up your debit card bill so it goes to your savings would sway me when they're going to charge me $7/month or whatever if I don't have thousands of dollars in my account earning 0 or next to no interest? Ridiculous!

Cheryl said...

Wait, I do bank with B of A. How do I not know all of this? I'm pretty sure I don't pay $7 a month--and I'm very sure there are not thousands in my account.

Tracy Lynn said...

And this is why I have stayed with my bank for over a decade. Key doesn't do ads like that, in fact, they generally do print or billboard, and then they just focus on their admittedly excellent customer service. I love them, in so far as it is possible to love such things.

Cheryl said...

I've never heard of Key (maybe because they don't advertise, or maybe because they're not in SoCal), but I like their style. Speak softly and carry, um, a big customer service stick?

Steve C said...

I have to admit, we ate dinner from a food truck last night (two actually). But the lame bank ads also bug me too.

Cheryl said...

As long as you didn't bank while you waited in line, it's all good.