Reasons why NatWest’s new TV advertisement is less sincere than a fox offering a chicken a haircut

NatWest’s new ‘Helpful Banking’ TV campaign highlights the institution’s free, impartial financial advise from Money Sense advisers who have been given in-depth training (for one whole day) about how best to patronise half-wits about how they spend their cash.

In the advertisement, an adviser lurks in a bank lobby like a preying mantis, waiting to pounce on the first poor bastard that stumbles in to use the ATM machine or deposit a day’s takings. It’s easy to spot a Money Sense adviser from the usual person dispatched to the front counter to greet the public – the advisers have spent eight hours learning how to smile, the front counter assistant didn’t earn the nickname ‘Vinegar Tits’ for nothing.

Money Sense advice can be roughly split into three main categories: (1) Unbelievably patronising (2) Insultingly obvious (3) Awe-inspiringly transparent.

A woman who gets pissed on a regular basis and uses her debit card to withdraw more and more drinking money is told to leave the card at home. A man who has been paying his utility bills with carefree abandon for years is told to shop around for a better deal. A grandmother who keeps chickens is told how to suck eggs.

All advice is greeted with a level of incredulity that leads you to believe that the customers in question are being handed the ordnance survey co-ordinates for the Holy Grail rather than a series of blindingly obvious platitudes scripted by five-year-olds.

I fully expect the next advertisement to show Money Sense advisers asking customers if they’ve heard of something called ‘the internet’ or informing them that the moon isn’t made of cheese. The concepts will be so mind-blowing that every customer in the branch will instantly burst into flames leaving only a few heaps of ash and the charred remains of half a dozen Money Sense brochures.

I do not bank at NatWest. I am still smarting over its refusal to give me a china pig money bank in the 1980s because I already had an account at Midland.


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